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Rajaji Tiger Reserve

By: Astha Raghav 
Rajaji National Park is an Indian national park and tiger reserve that encompasses the Shivaliks, near the foothills of the Himalayas. It is spread over 820 km2., and three districts of Uttrakhand :Haridwar, Dehradun and Pauri Garhwal. In 1983, three wildlife sanctuaries in the area namely, Chilla, Motichur and Rajaji sanctuaries were merged into one.
Rajaji National Park has been named after C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji), a prominent leader of the Freedom Struggle, the second and last Governor- General of independent India and one of the first recipients of India's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna (in 1954).

The Union government has given the nod to a proposal to grant the Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand the status of a tiger reserve. It will be the second tiger reserve in the state after the Corbett Tiger Reserve and 48th Tiger Reserve of India. As per directions of the Tiger Conservative Authority of India, the Rajaji National Park will be core area of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve, while about 300 km2. of Shyampur range of the Haridwar forest division and parts of Kotdwar and Laldhang forest division, which function as a buffer zone, will also be included in the Tiger Project, augmented area to 1150 km2.

Final approval was accorded to Kudremukh (Karnataka) and Rajaji (Uttarakhand) for declaring as a tiger reserve on 15 April 2015. Rajaji became the second tiger reserve in Uttarakhand.

Rajaji National Park of India is nestled between the Shivalik ranges and the Indo-Gangetic plains. Broadleaved deciduous forests, riverine vegetation, scrubland, grasslands and pine forests form the range of flora in this park. The dense jungles here are home to vivacious wildlife. The varied topography of the national park is also responsible for vivid animal life inhibited here. The under-wood is light and often absent, consisting of rohini Mallotus Philippines , amaltas Cassia fistula, shisham Dalbergia Sissoo, Sal Shorea robusta, palash Butes monosperma, arjun Terminalia arjuna, khair Senegalia catechu, baans Dendrocalamus strictus, semul Bombax ceiba, sandan, chamaror Ehretia, amla Phyllanthus emblica, kachnar Bauhienia variegata, ber Ziziphus mauritiana, chilla Casearia, bel Aegle marmelos, etc.

Rajaji National Park is predominantly formed from dense green jungles, and this environment forms a habitat for a number of animals. The park is at the northwestern limit of distribution for both elephants and tigers in India. The park is most renowned for its elephants. The mountain goat, goral is another noteworthy resident. It is mainly confined to the precipitous pine-covered slopes. Besides the huge pachyderms and the nimble goats, you might come across huge herds of chital, sometimes as many as 250 to a herd. sambar, barking deer, hog deer, nilgai, wild pigs and sloth bears also inhabit these forests though you may not always catch a glimpse of these. The rhesus macaque and the common langur are fairly common here. Tigers and leopards are the prime predators in Rajaji. The leopard cat, jungle cat, civet and yellow-throated marten are other carnivores. Mammals like the jackal and the Bengal fox scavenge in the park. The Himalayan black bear though uncommon, can be sighted in the higher reaches of the park. Other wild animals found in the park include:

  • Asian elephant
  • Bengal tiger
  • Indian Leopard
  • Striped hyena
  • Jungle cat
  • Goral
  • Indian hare
  • Sloth bear
  • Himalayan black bear
  • King cobra
  • Jackal
  • Barking deer
  • Sambhar
  • Wild boar
  • Rhesus macaque
  • Indian langur
  • Indian porcupine
  • Monitor lizard
  • Python

Over 315 species of birds are found in the park, whereas the wider region has over 500 species of birds, including both residents and migrants. The most prominent avian species include pea fowl, vultures, woodpeckerspheasantskingfishers and barbets, supplemented by a number of migratory species during the winter months. The park is also home to the great pied hornbillpied kingfisher  and the fire tailed sunbird. This area is the first staging ground after the migratory birds cross over the Himalayas into the Indian subcontinent.

The rivers which flow through the park harbour species of fish such as trout and mahseer.

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