An eco-conservative Bandipur National Park: The largest habitat for predators
Written By अनुभा जैन, लेखिका पत्रकार on Tuesday, June 21,2022
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Situated in Southern India, Bandipur National Park, also known as Venugopala Park is one of the most exquisite and picturesque national parks of India. The primary tiger reserve in the country, the national park is located amidst the surroundings of the high Western Ghat Mountains on the Mysuru-Ooty highway in Karnataka. It is about 80 kilometers from the city of Mysuru and on the route to Ooty. The National Park is located partially in Gundlupet taluk of Chamarajanagar District and also in H.D.Kote and Nanjangud taluks of Mysuru District. Once a private hunting reserve for the emperors of Mysuru is now transformed as the Bandipur Tiger Reserve or national park. The reserve was brought under Project Tiger in 1973. During that time amongst the nine prominent Tiger reserves in the country, it was one of the major tiger reserves.
Bandipur National Park is a part of the Nilgiri forest range. An eco-conservative national park Bandipur shares its boundaries with national parks namely Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, and a reservoir or river that connects Bandipur park to Nagarhole National Park too in the North. And hence, these three national parks along with the Bandipur National Park create India's biggest and largest protected area 'Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve' with a total area of over 2100 sq. km.
In an exclusive interview with me Bandipur Project Tiger director S.R. Natesh said, “We do tiger estimation every year. As per the calculation of last year, the Park has a sizable number of over 128 Tigers in the reserve, and also it is the largest habitat of about 2500 Wild Elephants in South Asia. In the common habitat, i.e., adjacent tiger reserves in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Nagarhole we have about 36 tigers. So, in total there are roughly about 175 tigers in these national parks.
Natesh further said that the national park was formed by including most of the forest areas of the Venugopala Wildlife sanctuary, established in 1941 and was spread in only 90 sq. km. at that time. Later in 1985 the area was enlarged and extended over an area of 874.2 sq km. After including some nearby reserve forest areas, the Bandipur Tiger Reserve presently holds control over an area of 1020 sq. km. with 874.2 sq km. core area and rest as the buffer area. It is pertinent to mention that the core is noted as a critical area and buffer is a peripheral area to foster co-existence with local people while ensuring the protection of the National Park. "The unique thing about the park is that apart from a huge number of tigers there is double the number of leopards that are roughly 300 in number and a great sum of wild dogs can be spotted in the national park. Where carnivores conflict is concerned then in the last year only one case of tiger attack was reported," Natesh mused.
Other natural inhabitants of the forest that can be seen here are sloth bear, chital, gaur (a type of bull), sambhar, chital, mouse deer, four-horned antelope, wild boar, jackal, panther, Malabar squirrel, porcupines, black-knapped hare, and birds like jungle fowl and green pigeon. In the end, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a visit to Bandipur and nearby national parks is a treat for every wildlife and nature lover. But it is also a tough challenge for the forest officials to safeguard these wild animals which have been living in their territorial areas.