India's National Parks and Sanctuaries


RobinAge takes a closer look at India's amazing national parks and sanctuaries.

Kaziranga National Park is situated in Assam. It is home to the one-horned rhinoceros. The tall elephant grass, marshland and dense, tropical, moist, broad leaf forests crisscrossed by four major rivers make the park a significant breeding ground for 35 species of mammals, 15 of which are threatened. The animals found here include the Wild Asiatic Water Buffalo, gaur, sambar, Indian muntjac, wild boar, hog deer, Assamese Macaque, Capped Golden Langur and Hoolock Gibbon. The park also houses the largest breeding population of elephants, wild water buffalo and swamp deer. The other animals seen are the jungle cat, Fishing Cat, leopard cat, Hispid Hare, Indian Gray Mongoose, small Indian mongoose, large Indian civet, small Indian civet, fox, golden sloth bear, Chinese pangolin, Indian pangolin, hog badger, Chinese Ferret Badgers and particoloured flying squirrel. Kaziranga was once home to seven species of vultures, but these are now close to extinction. Two of the largest snakes in the world, the Reticulated Python and the Rock Python, as well as the longest venomous snake in the world, the King Cobra, inhabit the park. The endangered Ganges Dolphin can also be found here.

The Nagarhole National Park is situated in Karnataka. The park consists of numerous open grassy swamps called hadlu. This area is known for its moist deciduous forests. Trees like teak and eucalyptus grow here. The park is home to the tiger, leopard, panther, Rusty Spotted Cat, sloth bear, gaur, four-horned antelope, elephant, sambhar, chital, muntjac, civet, wild dog, flying fox, tiny Mouse Deer, giant squirrel, Slender Loris, langur, black-naped hare, wild boar, pangolin, macaque, Nilgiri Tahr, bison and Nilgiri Langur. The park is also home to 250 species of birds including the Malabar Trogan, Indian Pitta, Green Imperial Pigeon, Malabar Pied Hornbill and Great Black Woodpecker.

Periyar National Park in situated in Kerala. The attraction here is the ease with which one can site wild elephants and the elusive Nilgiri Tahr. Apart from elephants, the other animals seen here include the gaur, wild boar, sambar, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer and Dole. Four species of primates are found here - the rare lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiri Langur, the common langur and the Bonnet Macaque. Some of the bird species seen in the Periyar sanctuary include the darter, kingfisher, cormorant, great malabar hornbill and racket-tailed drongo. Periyar is also home to 350 species of medicinal plants and 160 species of butterflies.

Ranthambore National Park is situated in Rajasthan. The tiger reserve here is home to some of the oldest banyan trees. Apart from tigers, the reserve is home to a large number of wildlife species including the chital, gazelle, boar, mongoose, Indian hare, monitor lizard, leopard, jungle cat, hyena, jackal, porcupine, wild boar, sloth bear, marsh crocodile, langur, spotted deer, sambar and nilgai. The langur is the only primate found in the park. Ranthambore is home to 270 species of birds including a large number of migratory birds. Some of the birds spotted here include the great Indian horned owl, eagle, parakeet, spoonbill, kingfisher, partridge, quail, stork, owl, goose and duck.

Sundarbans National Park is located in West Bengal and is formed by the confluence of the Ganga, Brahmaputra and Meghana Rivers. This is the largest estuarine mangrove forest in the world with 26 of the 50 known broad species of mangroves growing here. The national park is also known as the home of the Royal Bengal Tiger. The endangered species that can be sighted here include the estuarine crocodile, River Terrapin, Olive Ridley Turtle, Gangetic dolphin, ground turtle, Hawk Bill Turtle and king crab. The park is also known for the presence of the spotted deer, Fishing Cat, wild boar, monitor lizard, otter and rhesus macaque. It is also home to numerous varieties of lobster, fish, shrimp, crabs, snakes and worms as well as a host of avian life such as the kingfisher, heron, woodpecker, stork, Brahmin duck, arghilah, water fowl and egret.

The Wild Ass Sanctuary is situated in Gujarat. The sanctuary is named after its most prominent resident, a sub species of the wild ass (Equus hemionus khur), the last population of which is harboured here. Apart from the Indian Wild Ass, the other animals spotted here include the blackbuck, chinkara, nilgai, wolf, Caracal, Desert Cat, Indian fox, striped hyena, Indian pangolin, small Indian mongoose and Indian Desert Gerbil. Some 70,000 to 75,000 birds also nest here annually. The mixing of tidal water from the Gulf of Kachchh with the freshwater discharged from rivers takes place in the Little Rann of Kachchh, making it an important spawning ground for prawns.