Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ranthambhore National Park ............ Part 1


Ranthambore is considered as one of the best national parks in the world. Here you can see very famous Bengal tigers, many other wild animals and birds

The Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve lies in Rajasthan's eastern districts of Sawai Madhopur and Karauli. Chambal river lies on the eastern side of the tiger reserve, at a distance of a few kilometers and the river Banas flows through the reserve. Even though most of the Ranthambhore tiger reserve is open to visitors, most visitors visit only the Ranthambore national park. This is because the national park is the best tiger habitat in the entire Project Tiger reserve and has some fantastic wildlife viewing to offer. All the tiger safaris in Ranthambore are conducted in the national park because this is the only part of the entire Project Tiger reserve that has a healthy and visible population of wild tigers. The other parts of the reserve are not very rich in wildlife, definitely not as rich as the Ranthambore national park.

During the 19th century there was excellent forest cover almost all over India. The population density was very low and exploitation of forests to fulfill local needs was negligible. During that period the forests of Ranthambhore were the private and exclusive hunting reserves of the Jaipur and Karauli royal family.
By the end of the first quarter of the 20th century, the need for conservation of forests and wildlife was being felt all over India. The population was growing rapidly and the forests were coming under pressure. The Rajasthan forest Act. was enacted in 1953, giving these forests some legal protection. In 1955, these forests were declared as "Sawai Madhopur sanctuary" and the practice of sale of forest produce through "royalty permits" came to an end. This was when the forests of Ranthambore received their first "real" protection. However, legal hunting continued unabated till 1973 and by then the tiger population was almost totally decimated.

In 1973 a part of this Sawai Madhopur sanctuary came under Project tiger scheme. At that time there were 16 villages inside the sanctuary but between 1976 and 1979, 12 of these villages were shifted outside the sanctuary. In 1980, in order to give greater protection to the forests, an area of 282.03 sq. k.m. of the inner part of Sawai Madhopur sanctuary was declared as national park. Since then the state Government stopped collection of any forest produce from sanctuary and national parks. During the 1970s, tiger sightings were extremely rare in Ranthambhore but by the mid and late 1980s, as a result of the decade long protection given to the forests, Ranthambhore became the best place in the world to see wild tigers. Ranthambhore tiger reserve attained notoriety for illegal poaching of tigers in the year 1992. Since then the forest authorities became very strict and now, generally speaking, poaching is not a serious threat in these forests. Since 1992, the tiger population has gradually recovered and in 2002 the Park boasted of nearly 40 tigers, a density of nearly 10 tigers per 100 square k.m. - which is one of the highest in the world.

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