Category World Famous National Parks

Where to find Africa’s largest national parks?

The animals of Africa, many of them belonging to species which are now rare, today live under special protection from the danger of being hunted into extinction.

These animals live in national parks, huge areas reserved for them in central and eastern Africa. With the aid of wildlife Fund, these parks have become great tourist attractions. Every year thousands of people come from all over the world to see the giraffes, elephants, lions, gazelles, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses and reptiles which live in freedom in these reserves.

There are good tracks and smooth roads and visitors can drive for hundreds of kilometres through these national parks. Some of Africa’s most important reserves are in Kenya and Tanzania. The Serengeti National Part in northern Tanzania covers an area of 15,000 square kilometres and extends from Lake Victoria to Mount Kilimanjaro. It has the finest collection of plains animals in Africa and is especially famous for its lions.


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What is Rann of Kutch famous for?

The Wild Ass Sanctuary spans nearly 5,000 sq km. in Gujarat’s Little Rann of Kutch. Home to the third largest population of these animals in the world, the area is believed to be nurturing at least a few thousands of these mammals. Usually moving in large groups, these animals can be spotted throughout the year in this region. Due to its proximity to the Rann of Kutch and the variety in the region’s vegetation, the sanctuary hosts more than 30 species of rare and endangered animals, and over 90 species of invertebrates. In fact, the sanctuary also lies on the migratory route of several hundred birds that travel from as far as Europe, Russia and Egypt.


More than 350 species of birds can be spotted in the region, and these include ducks, geese, quails francolins, flamingoes, grebes, doves, pigeons, sandgrouses, nightjars, swifts, coucals, malkohas, cuckoos, koels, crakes, cranes, bustards, storks, pelicans, herons, egrets, ibises, cormorants, thick knees, plovers, lapwings, godwits, sandpipers, pratincoles, gulls, terns, kites, eagles, buzzards, vultures, owls, woodpeckers, bee-eaters, rollers, kingfishers, falcons, parakeets, orioles, drongos, shrikes, flowerpeckers, sunbirds, weavers, pipits, wagtails, buntings, larks, prinias, warblers, swallows, martins, bulbuls, starlings, flycatchers and wheatears. In addition to the wild ass, the place hosts several other animals, including chinkara, nilgai or blue bull, black buck, wild boar, Indian wolf, jackal, striped hyna, desert hare, desert cat, pangolin, porcupine, Indian fox, mongoose, and jungle cat.

There’s good news…

In 2015, the census of the wild ass showed that the total number of these ungulates was a little short of 4.500. A similar exercise conducted in March 2020 showed that the Umber stood at a little over 6,000 – showing a spike of 30 % in just five years. This is particularly encouraging, considering the species had a worrying history. Due to the outbreak of diseases, the number of these mammals had fallen to a mere 700 back in the 1960s. The population today points to a successful and concerted conservation effort over decades. It also points to the need to be mindful of the continuing threats faced by the wild ass, found in the wild only in this part of the country.

… but threats persist

While a growing population is comforting to hear, the threats that these animals face remain a concern. Since the paths of these animals cross those of domestic livestock that herders take out for grazing, the chance of a disease outbreak and the animals contracting it are high. Further, water carrying pesticide and fertilizer from farmlands outside the sanctuary enter the region, with potential to harm animals that could drink the polluted water. The increasing number of salt pans and illegal mining in the region are additional threats to the sanctuary.


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Why Periyar Tiger Reserve is famous?

Spanning over 725 sq. km., the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala is one of the rich biodiversity hotspots of the Western Ghats. Comprising a range of tropical evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, moist deciduous forests, grasslands and eucalyptus plantations, it is amply nourished by rivers such as the Periyar running through the region. The reserve is a green zone that’s home to more than a 100 varieties each of grasses and orchids – perfect to welcome several species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and butterflies. The region also hosts a large number of Asiatic elephants, making it one of the most significant elephant reserves of the country.


Garganeys, little grebes, nightjars, swift, coucal, malkohas, crakes, bitterns, cormorants, snipes, sandpipers, harriers, hornbills, woodpeckers, barbets, bee-eaters, falcons, minivets, orioles, woodshrikes, shrikes, treepies, flowerpeckers, sunbirds, leaf birds, munias, pipits, wagtails, tits, larks, prinias, warblers, swallows, babblers, starlings, nuthatches, flycatchers, robins and thrushes are among the species of birds that can be seen here. In addition to the Royal Bengal tiger and the Asiatic elephant, one can spot mammals such as leopard, bison, sambar, barking deer, Indian wild dog, wild boar, Nilgiri marten, Nilgiri langur and otter. A variety of reptiles such as cobra, viper, krait, and Indian monitor lizard, and amphibians such as frogs and toads too are found in the region.

Cause for concern

report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in 2019 A said that the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), an autonomous body that manages 1,248 temples including the Sabarimala Ayappa Temple, has been violating the Master Plan for Sabarimala for over a decade. This is affecting the ecology of the Periyar Tiger Reserve”. The report on the implementation of Wildlife Protection Act in Kerala says that the “impact of Sabarimala pilgrimage ranked first in the list of 18 major threats identified by Periyar Tiger Reserve authorities in Tiger Conservation Plan”. It added that due to the lack of drainage facilities, overflowing waste water and sewage was mixing with the rivers in the region. Further, electric lines had not been laid underground, and the existing “overhead cables without insulation” could pose a threat to wildlife species in the area.

Poachers to protectors

The Periyar Tiger Reserve is an example of an unusual success story. According to Mongabay, a conservation and environment news and features service, the story begins towards the end of the 20th Century, when a forest brigand operating near the reserve is captured. He led a 23-member gang of poachers and sandalwood smugglers. And was willing to give it all up if they were assured of a job with a steady income. However, back then there was no provision to include poachers and smugglers in forest management. Several discussions happened and a few years passed before Vidiyal Vanapathukappu Sangam was set up. It would be the country’s first eco-development committee constituted solely of former poachers and sandalwood smugglers””. The group underwent training and was exposed to the need for conservation. It’s been 17 years since. The members have helped crack at least “230 cases of poaching and smuggling”. In addition to patrolling, they also double up as tourist guides and elephant safari providers. Most importantly, they have managed to educate their children – some are postgraduates today! The success of this model has been so encouraging that several other reserves and sanctuaries too have emulated it.


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Why is Pobitora National Park famous?

One of the densest habitats of the greater one-horned rhinoceros in the world, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary spans about 40 in Assam. It was declared a reserve forest in 1971 and a wildlife sanctuary 10 years later. The humid grasslands, along with woodlands and wetlands, make the region a perfect place for not just the one-homed rhino but several other birds and animals. The annual flooding of the Brahmaputra in the Sanctuary both clears unwanted waste and rejuvenates the vegetation there. However, its increasing severity of late has caused more damage than it has left room for regeneration. Likewise, the annual seasonal burning of grasslands have been crucial for the growth of new vegetation, but with a lack of proper monitoring this too is said to have been causing more damage than helping the habitat and its inhabitants.


Kites, eagles, vultures, harriers, kingfishers, geese, ducks, egrets, grebes, cormorants, pelicans, herons, darters, storks, doves, coucals, lapwings, bittens, treepies, orioles, shrikes, leafbirds, jacanas, shovelers, teals, coots, moorhens, sandpipers, greenshanks, terns, nightjars, swifts, starlings, and munias are among the several species of migrant and resident birds that can be spotted in the region. In addition to the one-homed rhinoceros, one can also spot leopards, wild boars, barking deer, wild buffaloes, leopard cats, fishing cats, jungle cats, jackals and Chinese pangolins in the Sanctuary. The place is also home to a large number of amphibian, reptile and fish species.

Migrating birds

In addition to its famed pachyderm, the Sanctuary is also noted for its migratory birds. Every winter, the region welcomes thousands of these winged visitors. As with many places, some years are good and some, not so. For instance, in 2012, at least 20,000 birds visited the Sanctuary while in 2015, the numbers were said to have come down.

The problem of plenty

As mentioned earlier, Pobitora has a high density of rhinos – about a hundred of them occupying the core areas of the Sanctuary. While the growing number of rhinos is certainly good news, all of them having to rub shoulders within a small space is not good at all. For one, the risk of spreading infection or disease within a group increases substantially, and could lead to mass deaths of the animals in just one big swipe. Also, they jostle for not just space but food too. This could lead to many of them straying into human habitation, resulting in tragedy on both sides. The gravest concern in the crowded region is how vulnerable these creatures are to poaching.


While poaching is a near-universal problem, Pobitora faces a unique problem – floods. When the Sanctuary is flooded annually by the swelling Brahmaputra, it could lead to loss of animal life in many ways. The animal could face a watery grave, stray from its habitat and be injured on roads or be caught in a conflict with humans, or worse, be trapped by a poacher. Most parts of the Sanctuary remain inaccessible due to the floods, an opportunity poachers make best use of. This problem is being handled by placing frontline forest staff on 24×7 duty, as was evident this July, after the floods.


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What is famous in Jim Corbett National Park?

The oldest national park in the country, Jim Corbett National Park covers an area of more than 500 sq km and is located in Uttarakhand. It was known as Hailey National Park before it was renamed in the 1950s after hunter-turned-conservationist James Edward Corbett (popularly known as Jim Corbett), who played a significant role in setting it up. The Park is part of the larger Tiger Reserve of the same name. Located on the Himalayan foothills, the Park has streams and rivers running through it, helping nurture the varied landscapes there from rugged forests to grasslands. This mosaic of vegetation has also served as a magnet for several species of birds and animals. The region is noted especially for its tiger and elephant population. In fact, Corbett has the highest number of tigers in the country – 213, according to the report of the fourth All India Tiger Estimation 2018 released on the eve of Global Tiger Day (July 29), 2020. Corbett hosts more than 550 species of birds, and has been declared an “Important Bird Area” by Birdlife International.


The birds found in the region include pelicans, darters, cormorants, grebes, storks, ibises, pochards, shelducks, hawks, grions, harriers, falcons, kestrels, francolins. partridges, quails, pheasants, crakes, swamphens, moorhens, watercocks, jacanas, lapwings, plovers, sandpipers, snipes, stints, redshanks, coucals, nightjars, hornbills, barbets, woodpeckers, martins, magpies, minivets, fantails, warblers, prinias, robins, tits, nuthatches, wagtails, weavers, and buntings. Apart from the Royal Bengal tiger and the Asiatic elephant, one may spot the gharial, sloth bear, Himalayan black bear, hog deer, sambar, marsh crocodile, rhesus macaque, mongoose, otter, jackal, pangolin, python and the cobra too.

Hello, rhinos!

Though famed for its tigers, Corbett is all set to welcome a new kind of inhabitant – Assam’s famed one-horned rhinoceros. In November 2019, the Uttarakhand Wildlife Advisory Board approved a proposal for rhino translocation on an experimental basis. As part of the proposal, more than one dozen rhinos from the Kaziranga National Park will find a home in Uttarakhand’s most popular National Park. It is said that the region is conducive for the mammals, and is also less plagued by human-animal conflict. Reports suggest that Corbett was perhaps a natural habitat of the pachyderms since a male rhino was sighted towards the end of the 18th Century. What inspired the proposal could be the similar translocation and eventual success of nearly half-a-dozen rhinos from Assam’s Pobitora to Uttar Pradesh’s Dudhwa National Park way back in 1984.

Popularity is a threat…

• The Park has for long received a large number of visitors. While tourism is integral to the development of any natural habitat it cannot be at the cost of the region itself. The huge number of visitors, infrastructure development around the Park to host these visitors, the clearing of land to set up activities for the tourists, the dumping of garbage into the river flowing through the Park etc. are among the greatest threats to the Park With increasing number of visitors, the chances of human animal conflicts too increase. drawing attention to the need to find a healthy balance between tourism and income generation for the region.

• This February, more than a month before the COVD-19 pandemic gripped the country, a photograph shot inside the Corbett Tiger Reserve went viral on social media It showed two tigers playing with what appears to be a plastic object. Indicative of how much plastic has invaded eco-sensitive regions, conservationists termed it a tragedy and called for public awareness and sensitivity. Ironically, plastic is banned in the Reserve.

• In 2016, Uttarakhand experienced one of its worst forest fires in recent times. Among several other areas Corbett too suffered. It was reported that about 200 hectares of forests were reduced to ashes. Though animal deaths were not reported forest fires can push escaping animals into human habitation leading to conflicts. Worse, several adult and young animals could perish or be injured significantly reducing the chances of new generations of animals to survive and grow, and leaving existing populations vulnerable.


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Which National Park is located in Kerala and famous for Nilgiri tahr?

Colourful carpets

The undulating terrain of Eravikulam is marked by rolling grasslands, hillocks and shola forests. It is dominated by a stunning range of balsams and orchids. The region is also one of the best places to catch the neelakurinji in all its glory. A plant endemic to the Western Ghats the neelakurinji blooms once every 12 years to cover the region in carpets of a purplish blue pink colour. The most recent blooming of this flower happened here in 2018. Considered one of the rarest flowers due to its limited flowering window, the neelakurinji is said to have neither any fragrance nor medicinal value.

Bloom in doom?

Scientifically called Strobilanthes kunthianus, the neelakurinji was first documented in 1838, and has bloomed as many as 16 times since. They were once abundant. But now, just like the Nilgiri tahr, they have disappeared from much of their earlier range on the Western Ghats. At the heart of this problem is loss of habitat. Hilly grasslands are the homes of these plants. But according to the National Geographic “plantations of eucalyptus and acacia. Agriculture, and most recently, tourism have “stripped the grasslands in which kurinji grows. A study from 2018 “looked at satellite imagery in one part of the Western Ghats from the past 40 years and found that grasslands shrank 66 percent. It also showed that as grasslands decreased so did timber plantations increase.

With global warming and climate change already altering or destroying habitats and their inhabitants, additional human-induced destruction, deforestation and development activities around ecologically fragile and significant areas only add to existing problems.

Located in the Idukki district of Kerala and covering an area of nearly 100, the Eravikulam National Park got its status in 1978 for its ecological faunal, geomorphological and zoological significance”. Overlooking the Park is Anamudi, one of south India’s highest peaks. Interspersed with grasslands and sholas, the region receives ample rainfall during the monsoons, making it an ideal habitat for wildlife. The Park is also synonymous with the endangered Nilgiri tahr and the blooming of the neelakurinji.

Bad news

Though the State animal of Tamil Nadu, the largest population of Nilgiri tahr is now found in neighbouring State Kerala’s Eravikulam National Park. While these ungulates were once spread across several regions of the Western Ghats, today they are found only in a few fragmented areas of these two States. And there’s more bad news for this population climate change. A study in 2018 analysed as many as 10 tahr habitats and different climate scenarios for three time periods – 2030s, 2050s and 2080s. The peer reviewed study published in the journal “Ecological Engineering” conducted there would be a drastic loss of tahr habitat in all three scenarios – a maximum of more than 60% in each time period. While population in areas such as Eravikulam may not face great threats, the concerns are more for the smaller and isolated populations in other areas.

…and some good news!

As the nation was braving the COVID-induced lockdown in April, there was some encouraging news coming in from Eravikulam. A survey held by the Forest Department that month showed that the number of Nilgiri tahr in the region had increased by 155 – newborns! With that the total count of the ungulates stood at 723. Around the same time last year, the numbers were 526 (with 91 newborns). Newspaper reports attribute the increase in newborns to the decline in human interference in forest areas”. It’s the mating season for the stars now, and with no human interference still the numbers of newborns are expected to go up in the next season too.


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Which animals are found in Kanha and Pench national parks?

Part of Project Tiger, both Pench and Kanha are national parks located in Madhya Pradesh. Apart of Pench extends into neighbouring Maharashtra. Together they span over 2,500, dominated by moist peninsular sal forests, tropical moist mixed deciduous mixed forest, an abundance of bamboo and trees such as teak and jamun, and green carpets of grassy patches and shrub. The combined regions teem with wildlife – they are a haven for over 1,000 species of plants, animals, and at least 300 species of resident and migrant birds.


A large number of bird species, including ducks, geese, shelducks, pochards, quails, grebes, nightjars, swifts, crakes, storks, herons, ibises, thickknees, plovers, lapwings, jacanas, sandpipers, redshanks, buttonquails, vultures, buzzards, harriers, hornbills, falcons, parakeets, minivets, orioles, cuckooshrikes, pipits, wagtails, buntings, prinias, nuthatches, starlings, flycatchers, thrushes, and wheatears, can be spotted here. Apart from their impressive population of tigers, the regions also nurture leopards, barasingha, mouse deer, barking deer, chital, sambar, bear, black buck, blue bull, chousingha (four-horned antelope), langur, etc.

Kanha: Room for improvement

Considered one of the better managed national parks, Kanha does have a lot of room for improvement. According to a study by the Indian Institute of Forest Management in 2019, one of the areas that need attention is the inadequate number of guards at night, as it opens up potential for poaching. In addition, there appears to be a need for wider and higher use of technology in monitoring the forest areas of the park. It is also said that some regions of the park lack proper fencing, which again unwittingly aids in poaching. It is noted for its work on tigers and the swamp deer species called barasingha. However, there are a lot of other species too that call the forests their home. The study says that other vulnerable species such as black buck and mouse deer need more attention too, and this can be done since the park has the means to do it. Finally, since there are a lot of villagers surrounding the park, human-animal conflicts do occur. Efforts must be taken to resolve this, though usually villagers seem kinder to carnivores attacking their livestock than to herbivores destroying their crops.

Pench: The problem of plenty

In Pench, the very forests that inspired the classic “Jungle Book”, the good news is the bad news. A few years ago, there were reports that pointed to an increase in the tiger population at Pench. While this was heartening news, it also meant that the exact same area (or even less!) will be shared by more number of tigers, animals known for their territorial integrity. This is a problem because the Pench forests are not contiguous with its neighbouring region Kanha where the tigers could move into. In the face of severe space crunch, animals could end up killing each other in territorial fights, stray into human habitation leading to human-animal conflict or the animal could fall into the hands of poachers. Also, the management of Pench is complicated by the fact that it is spread across two States. Each State is said to be functioning differently, though it is just one contiguous forest. Remember, humans create boundaries, not Nature? For instance, when issues such as poaching or human-animal conflict come up, the system to resolve these could be complex due to the issue of boundary and State-based action.


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What do we know about Blackbuck National Park?

The region which is now Blackbuck National Park once belonged to the Maharaja of Bhavnagar; it was his hunting ground where he hunted down blackbucks with his famous hunting cheetahs. The place had a grassland ecosystem that supported herds of blackbucks and antelopes. This region was later made a national park.

Blackbuck National Park is famous for its success stories of conservation of the blackbuck, wolf and lesser florican. The lesser florican is an endangered species endemic to India. Today, the largest population of lesser floricans resides in this Park. The population of wolf and triped hyena is also increasing.

Among birds, sandgrouse and larks are seen in fair numbers. The harrier roast found at the park is one of the largest in the world.


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What was Keoladeo National Park formerly known as?

Keoladeo National Park famous around the world for its bird life, both resident and migratory. During winter, large flocks of aquatic birds from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China and Siberia migrate for nesting including the Siberian crane. Over 230 species of birds are known to be the Park’s residents. This region was earlier known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary.

Keoladeo is a man-made and man-managed wetland. It is one of the richest bird areas in the world. The Park used to be a hunting ground for the Maharajas of Bharatpur, a tradition dating back to 1850. Duck shoots were organized yearly in honour of the British viceroys back then. Though the Maharajah retained shooting rights until 1972, the last big shoot happened in 1964. The area was designated as a bird sanctuary on 13 March, 1976 and was later declared as a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


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Why was Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park set up?

Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park was created on 24 May, 1983 under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. It aimed at protecting marine life such as corals and nesting sea turtles that are common in this area.

Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is located in Wandoor in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and is made up of 17 islands and the open sea creeks running through the area. There are 2 major island groups in the park; the Labyrinth Islands and the Twin Islands. Twin Islands is an important area of sea turtles. The islands belong to the Rutland Archipelago and are located between Rutland Island and South Andaman Island.

Some of the islands in the Park are more isolated or protected from the effects of weather in the Bay of Bengal. Tarmugli is the largest island in the Park; it is covered with thick mangrove vegetation, sand covered beaches and sheet rocks.


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