Rajasthan is a haven for a wide spectrum
of wildlife. The topography of Rajasthan ranges from the barren desert,
scrub-thorn arid forests, rocks and ravines to wetlands and lush, green
forests. And each of these areas houses a large variety of animal and
bird life. Some of them are rare while some are endangered.
The state is the home of tigers, black
bucks, chinkara, the rare desert fox, the endangered caracal, the great
Indian bustard, gavial, monitor lizard, wild boars, and porcupine.
Migratory birds like the common crane, ducks, coots, pelicans and the
rare Siberian cranes, imperial sand grouse, falcons and buzzards flocks
to this state during the winter months. Typical areas representing each
of the ecosystems have been earmarked as special areas wildlife.
Rajasthan boasts of two National Parks, over a dozen Sanctuaries and two
Closed Areas. Most of these areas are open to visitors round the year
but are closed briefly during the monsoon.
Sariska National Park -
became a sanctuary in the year 1958, came under the project Tiger in
1979 and became a national park in 1982. It is located at Kankwari
fort, near Alwar, on the Delhi Jaipur Highway. The terrain is
predominantly hilly, as it lies in the Aravalli range. It has a total
area of 788 sq kilometers, with a core area of approx. 47sq
kilometers. The carnivores of the area are panther, jungle cat, jackal
and hyena. Three caracals were also reported during the last census in
1985. Other animals include the sambhar, chital, wild boar, hare,
nilgai and umpteen porcupines. The birdlife comprises of the peafowl,
gray partridge, quail, sand grouse, tree pie, white-breasted
kingfisher, golden woodpecker and great Indian horned owl. Visit:
November & March is the best period to visit.
Ranthambore National Park -
the township of Sawai Madhopur, Ranthambore National Park is an
outstanding example of Project Tiger's efforts at conservation in the
country. The forests around the Ranthambore Fort were once, the
private hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur. The desire to
preserve them was responsible for their conservation, and subsequent
rescue by Project Tiger. The Park sprawls over an estimated area of
400 sq. kms. Steep crags embrace a network of lakes and rivers, and
atop one of these hills, is the impressive Ranthambore Fort, built in
the 10th century. The terrain fluctuates open bushland and impregnable
forest, mostly of dry deciduous type. The entry point to the Park goes
straight to the foot of the fort and the forest rest house, Jogi Mahal.
The latter boasts of the second-largest banyan tree in India. The
Padam Talab, the Raj Bagh Talab and the Milak Talab are some of the
lakes in the area that attract the wildlife population. The entire
forest is peppered with the battlements and spillovers of the
Ranthambore Fort. Ranthambhor is approachable both by rail (132 km)
and road (180 km) from Jaipur. It is situated 14 km from Sawai
Madhopur railway station on Delhi- Bombay trunk route.
Keoladeo Ghana National Park -
One of the most spectacular bird sanctuaries in India, nesting
indigenous water- birds as well as migratory water birds and waterside
birds. More than 300 species of birds are found in this small park of
29 sq. km. of which 11 sq. km. are marshes and the rest scrubland and
grassland. Sambar, chital, nilgai and boar also inhabit it. The name
Keoladeo is derived from an ancient Hindu temple, devoted to Lord
Shiva, which stands at the centre of the park. 'Ghana' means dense,
referring to the thick forest, which used to cover the area. In 1760
an earthen dam (Ajan Dam) was constructed to save Bharatpur town from
the annual vagary of flooding every monsoon. The depression created by
extraction of soil for the dam was cleared and this became the
Keoladeo Lake. At the beginning of this century, this lake was
developed, and was divided into several portions. A system of small
dams, dykes, sluice gates, etc., was created to control water level in
different sections. This became the hunting preserve of the Bharatpur
royalty, and one of the best duck - shooting wetlands in the world.
Hunting was prohibited by mid-60s. The area was declared a national
park on 10 March 1982, and accepted as a World Heritage Site in
350 species of birds find a refuge in the 29 sq km of shallow lakes
and woodland, which makes up the park. A third of them are migrants,
many of whom spend their winters in Bharatpur, before returning to
their breeding grounds, as far away as Siberia and Central Asia.
Migratory birds at Keoladeo include, as large a bird as Dalmatian
pelican, which is slightly less than two meters, and as small a bird
as Siberian dusky leaf warbler, which is the size of a finger. Other
migrants include several species of cranes, pelicans, geese, ducks,
eagles, hawks, shanks, stints, wagtails, warblers, wheatears,
flycatchers, buntings, larks and pipits, etc. But of all the migrants,
the most sought after is the Siberian Crane or the great white crane,
which migrates to this site every year, covering a distance of more
than half the globe. These birds, numbering only a few hundred, are on
the verge of extinction. It is birds from the western race of the
species that visit Keoladeo, migrating from the Ob river basin region,
in the Aral Mountains, in Siberia via Afghanistan and Pakistan. There
are only two wintering places, left for this extremely rare species.
One is in Feredunkenar in Iran, and the other is Keoladeo Ghana. The
journey to Bharatpur takes them 6,400 kms from their breeding grounds,
in Siberia. They arrive in December and stay till early March. Unlike
Indian cranes, the Siberian crane is entirely vegetarian. It feeds on
underground aquatic roots and tubers in loose flocks of five or six.
Desert National Park -
vast tracts of desert sands around Jaisalmer, with their wood fossils,
have become the Desert National Park. The desert has a fragile
eco-system that has a unique variety of wildlife species. These
include the somewhat ungainly bird the Great Indian Bustard, which,
because of this effort, has made a comeback in recent decades, though
it is still on the endangered list.
The Desert National Park is an excellent example of the ecosystem of
the Thar Desert and its diverse fauna. Sand dunes form around 20% of
the Park. The major land form consists of craggy rocks and compact
salt lake bottoms, intermedial areas and fixed dunes, which are quite
suitable for the chinkara to move at high speed. The blackbuck is
another common antelope of this region. Its other notable inhabitants
are the desert fox, Bengal fox, and wolf and desert cat. Sudashri
forest post is the ideal place for observing the wildlife and for
watching and photographing the activities of the animals from behind
cover. Birdlife in this sandy habitat is vivid and spectacular. Birds
such as the sand grouse, partridges, bee-eaters, larks and shrikes are
commonly seen. Demoiselle crane and houbara arrive in the winter. The
birds of prey seen here are tawny and steppe eagles, long legged and
honey buzzards, falcons and kestrels. But the most outstanding of the
avifauna is the great Indian bustard. This park is also very rich in
reptiles. Spiny tail lizard, monitor lizard, saw sealed viper,
Russel's viper, Sind krait, toad agama and sandfish are found in large
Akal Wood Fossils Park, 18 kms from Jaisalmer, contains relics of
about 180 million years of age. Seashells and massive fossilised tree
trunks in this park record the geological history of the desert.
Tal Chapar Black Buck Sancturay -
It is a vast saline tract spread
over 820 Hectares at a distance of 12 km from Sujangarh and 170 km
from Bikaner (on Bikaner-Jaipur Road) where some 400 black bucks (the
rare and vanishing variety of antelopes) can be seen with a background
of mirage. Originally a game preserve of Maharaja of Bikaner, it was
declared "protected area" under the Rajasthan Wild Animals and Birds
Protection Act in 1962. It is interesting to see how the Bucks command
their 'harems' and in what sportsman like manner they win or lose some
of the inmates and the young ones are reared up.
Van Vihar, Ramsagar -
The breathtaking beauty of the park is
spread across an area of about 60 sq. km. The sanctuary can be divided
into two parts namely Van Vihar & Ramsagar. Van Vihar, located on
Vindhyan plateau, supports a rather open stunted growth of Dhok and
Khair trees. Ramsagar part of the sanctuary has the picturesque
The sanctuary is inhibited by species like Sambhar, Chital, Blue Bull,
Wild Boar, Sloth Bear, Hyena and Leopard. Ramsagar Lake is populated
with fresh water crocodiles and a variety of fishes and snakes.
White-Breasted Water Hen, Moor hen, Jacanas, Stilt, River Tern, Ringed
Plover, Sand Piper and Herons (gray, and purple) are also quite common
here. In addition to this, countless migratory ducks and geese also
visit the lake.
Van Vihar, Darrah Sanctuary -
Previously the hunting ground of the
Kota maharajas, this sanctuary was established in 1955 and covers an
area of 266 sq km. This hilly sanctuary with its thick forests is
worth a visit. The animals here include wolf, sloth bear, chinkara and
leopard. The best time to visit is between February and May.
Jaisamand Sanctuary -
Established in 1957, this sanctuary is
located beside the man-made lake of the same name. Covering a total
area of 160 sq km, it harbours sloth bear, leopard, chital, chinkara,
wild boar and a number of birds. Some crocodiles and fish can also be
spotted here. Best time to visit is between November and January.
Van Vihar (Mt. Abu) -
The highest point of Aravallis, the Guru
Shikhar, lies in this 289 sq km sanctuary. Established in 1960, this
provides shelter to the common langaur, wild boar, sambhar and
leopard. The gray jungle fowl can also be spotted here. Besides, a
number of flowering trees enhance the beauty of this place.