In India, various categories of protected areas have been established to safeguard wildlife. These include National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves, and Community Reserves. The designation of these protected areas is based on the specific needs of the region. National Parks offer the highest level of protection to forested areas, while Wildlife Sanctuaries provide the second-highest level of protection with relatively less strict regulations. Consequently, many areas have been designated as wildlife sanctuaries due to their more lenient rules. Currently, India has 567 wildlife sanctuaries covering approximately 125,564.86 km². Despite their lower protection status, wildlife sanctuaries are not as popular among tourists as tiger reserves and national parks, which are major attractions for wildlife enthusiasts.
India boasts a network of 54 tiger reserves, most of which serve as strongholds for these majestic creatures and draw tourists from all over the world. These tiger reserves are created by combining one or more protected areas, forming larger units dedicated to conserving tigers and their ecosystems. While tiger reserves and national parks are well-known for their conservation efforts, wildlife sanctuaries play a vital role within the tiger reserves, serving as critical components and enhancing wildlife conservation efforts.
This blog aims to shed light on lesser-known wildlife sanctuaries in India, which are integral parts of the core critical tiger habitats within these globally renowned tiger reserves. Despite their significance, these sanctuaries remain relatively unknown to the general public. You may also like to read Protected Areas of India To Conserve Flowering Plants.
Bori Wildlife Sanctuary (Lesser-known sanctuary in Satpura Tiger Reserve)
The Bori Wildlife Sanctuary stands as one of India’s oldest protected areas, established initially as a reserve forest to safeguard the valuable teak forests in the region. This sanctuary, spanning 485.715 sq.km, derives its name from the nearby village, Bori, and is renowned for its prized Bori Teak. Recognizing its conservation significance, the area was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1977.
The sanctuary boasts a diverse range of habitats, including Southern Moist Deciduous Forest featuring sub-types like Moist Teak Forest, Dry Mix Deciduous Forest, Riparian areas, and grasslands (former village sites). In 1999, Bori Wildlife Sanctuary was incorporated into the Satpura Tiger Reserve, alongside Satpura National Park and Pachmarhi Wildlife Sanctuary, further enhancing its conservation status.
Apart from its famed teak trees, Bori Sanctuary offers a chance to spot the Giant Squirrel, particularly near Churna Rest House. The sanctuary is a haven for central India’s mammal species, including the majestic Tiger, elusive Leopard, Sloth Bear, Wild Dog, Indian Gaur, Blue Bull, Four-Horned Antelope, Indian Gazelle, Sambar Deer, Barking Deer, and Spotted Deer. Notably, Bori Sanctuary stands out within the Satpura Tiger Reserve as the prime location to observe spotted deer due to its extensive grassland areas.
Furthermore, Bori Sanctuary is a paradise for bird enthusiasts, hosting over 250 bird species, including rare and endangered ones such as the White-rumped Vulture, Long-billed Vulture, Painted Stork, and Malabar Pied Hornbill. Its rich biodiversity and varied habitats make Bori Wildlife Sanctuary a treasure trove for nature lovers and conservationists alike.
Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary (Lesser-known sanctuary in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve)
Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary, a prime example of typical Terai forests, serves as a part of the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. Established on January 1, 1973, and integrated into Project Tiger in 1988, this sanctuary, along with Dudhwa National Park and Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, preserves some of the last remaining terai grasslands in northern India.
In the past, before tigers were designated as protected species, Kishanpur held some of India’s most sought-after tiger shooting blocks. The forest was previously managed for timber logging, plantation, and hunting, leading to the development of an extensive road network within the sanctuary. While many grasslands have been replanted with tree species like Sal, Teak, Jamun, Mahua, Semal, Babool, and Eucalyptus by the Forest Department, certain low-lying grasslands like Jhaadi Taal have been preserved. These areas are crucial for the Vulnerable Swamp Deer and the Critically Endangered Bengal Florican.
Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary shares similar habitats with Dudhwa National Park, resulting in the presence of comparable bird species. Jhadi Taal, in particular, stands out as a vital site for wintering waterfowl, hosting the Vulnerable Lesser Adjutant and Sarus Crane, as well as the Near Threatened Black-necked Stork.
The sanctuary attracts around 5,000 waterfowl, including sizable flocks of 300–500 Lesser Whistling Ducks, Greylag Geese, and various other duck species. Notably, Jhadi Taal is home to over 400 Swamp Deer, possibly constituting the largest single population of this species in Uttar Pradesh. Additionally, smaller scattered groups of Swamp Deer, numbering around 50–60, can be found in other grasslands within the sanctuary. Other noteworthy species present in Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary include Tigers, Hog Deer, Cheetal, Sambar, and Wild Boar.
Panpatha Wildlife Sanctuary (Lesser-known sanctuary in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve)
Panpatha Wildlife Sanctuary was officially established in 1983 and spans an area of approximately 245.8 square kilometers. Situated adjacent to Bandhavgarh National Park, it forms an integral part of the buffer zone for the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. Inside the sanctuary, there are still villages, and it is common to see local villagers collecting firewood and minor forest products.
Much like Bandhavgarh, Panpatha hosts a diverse array of fauna typical of Central India, including a recent settlement of elephants in the region. The sanctuary primarily consists of Moist Deciduous forests, with mixed dry deciduous forests at the higher elevations.
While no separate bird survey has been conducted, as Panpatha is part of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, it is estimated to support a similar number of bird species, approximately 250, in line with the broader region.
Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary (Lesser-known sanctuary in Corbett Tiger Reserve)
The Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) is situated in Uttarakhand and derives its name from the Sonanadi River, which translates to the “river of gold” due to reported gold deposits along its course. Established in 1987, this sanctuary covers an area of 301 sq. km. of pristine forest along the Ramganga River, adjoining the renowned Corbett National Park. The Shivalik-Terai ecosystem, where Sonanadi is located, is among the most threatened in the country and is a focal point for conservation efforts.
Sonanadi WLS plays a vital role in the habitat of the northwest population of the Asian Elephant. Within the Corbett-Rajaji NP region, there are three major sub-populations. Sonanadi serves as a crucial forest corridor connecting the Corbett and Rajaji populations, facilitating the movement of these elephants. Together with Corbett NP and its buffer areas, Sonanadi WLS forms the Corbett Tiger Reserve, boasting the world’s highest density and largest population of Tigers.
The sanctuary is predominantly covered with Sal forests and, being adjacent to Corbett, is expected to have rich birdlife, with nearly 550 bird species reported in the neighboring area. However, Sonanadi does not exhibit the same level of habitat diversity as Corbett. Nevertheless, it is home to a variety of large mammals found in Corbett and Rajaji National Park, including the Asiatic Elephant, Tiger, Leopard, Sambar, Cheetal, Barking Deer, Nilgai, Wild Boar, Sloth Bear, Golden Jackal, and Striped Hyena, along with smaller carnivores.
Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary (Lesser-known sanctuary in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve)
Kailadevi, in conjunction with Sawai Mansingh and Ranthambore National Park, constitutes the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. Established in 1983, the sanctuary covers an area of approximately 676 square kilometers. As an integral part of the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, Kailadevi shares a similar habitat and showcases comparable floral and faunal elements.
Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary serves as the northern extension of the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, spanning across Karauli and Sawai Madhopur districts. Bordered by the Banas River to the west and the Chambal River to the south, the sanctuary features a somewhat sparse and scattered forest cover. The predominant flora in the area includes Dhonk trees intermingled with Khair, Babool, Banyan Trees, Amaltas, and Tendu. You may also find interesting the Types of Bear species found in India – Himalayan, Sloth, Malayan.
In conclusion, these lesser-known wildlife sanctuaries, intricately woven into the fabric of India’s famed tiger reserves, stand as hidden gems in the country’s rich biodiversity tapestry. Bori Wildlife Sanctuary, with its ancient teak forests and diverse wildlife, showcases nature’s resilience over time. Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary, nestled in the Terai forests, exemplifies the delicate balance of nature, providing a safe haven for various species, including the majestic Asian Elephant. Sitanadi Wildlife Sanctuary, with its serene landscapes and vibrant avian life, offers a glimpse into the harmony of the natural world.
Panpatha Wildlife Sanctuary stands as a testament to coexistence, where villagers and wildlife share their habitat, emphasizing the need for sustainable living. Lastly, Kailadevi Wildlife Sanctuary, an extension of the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, mirrors the resilience of nature in the face of human expansion.
These sanctuaries, though less celebrated, play a pivotal role in preserving India’s diverse flora and fauna. They remind us of the importance of conservation, urging us to appreciate not only the renowned tiger reserves but also the smaller, equally significant sanctuaries that silently contribute to the country’s ecological heritage. As we delve deeper into the wilderness, let us recognize the intrinsic value of these lesser-known sanctuaries, cherishing and protecting the natural wonders they harbor for generations to come.
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