In this tutorial, we had discussed the National Parks And Wildlife Sanctuaries in West Bengal.
West Bengal is covered with forests about 13.38% of its total area. The state is riched with different habitats and wildlife due to its distinct altitudinal, physiographic, and climatic variations. For example, 6 national parks, 15 wildlife sanctuaries, and 2 elephant reserves are situated in the state.
West Bengal lies on the Eastern coast of India, home to a rich and wide variety of wildlife. From the world-famous Royal Bengal Tiger to the One-horned Indian Rhinoceros and the leopard in the foothills of the Himalayas, West Bengal is an amazing array of flora and fauna.
(01) Critical Species: 50% or greater probability of extinction within 5 years or within two generations.
(02) Endangered Species: 20% probability of extinction within 20 years or within 10 generations.
(03) Vulnerable Species: 10% probability of extinction within 100 years’.
Central Government of India declared that 41 species of mammals, 18 species of birds, 2 types of reptiles and amphibians are entirely protected and conserved by Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
I. NATIONAL PARKS IN WEST BENGAL
National parks are strictly reserved areas (ranges from 0.04 – 3162 sq. km) for the betterment of wildlife and to preserve the biodiversity in the area as well. No other activities are strictly prohibited in it. All the national parks have well-defined boundaries. In West Bengal, Sundarbans National Park is the largest national park, whereas Singalila National Park is the smallest national park.
The National Parks situated in West Bengal are as follows:
• SUNDARBANS NATIONAL PARK
In West Bengal, Sundarbans National Park is located in South 24 Parganas district. It is extended over an area of 1330.10 sq km. It was announced as a National Park on 4th May 1984.
It is densely covered by mangrove forests. Sundarbans is the largest reserves for the Royal Bengal tiger in the world. The Sundarbans Tiger Reserve was established in 1973 and it is part of Sundarban’s ecosystem and national park.
Since 2010, it has been classified as endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and natural resources). It is the national animal of both country India and Bangladesh. A variety species of birds, reptiles and invertebrate inhabits here including the salt-water crocodile. Other endangered species are also found in this park, e.g., river terrapin, olive ridley turtle, Gangetic dolphin, ground turtle, hawks, bill turtle, and mangrove horseshoe crab.
Sundarbans Tiger Reserve was established in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. It expands over an area of 2,585 sq km.
In 1973, at the time of inception of the Project Tiger Scheme, only nine tiger reserves constituted initially.
Shah Suja for the first time managed the forests of Sundarbans as a source of revenue In 1658.
It was announced as a Protected Forest on January 1879. Subsequently, it was declared as Reserved Forest in 1928 and 1943. It was announced as Sundarbans Tiger Reserve in 1973.
• NEORA VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
In West Bengal, Neora Valley National Park is located in Darjeeling district. It is extended over an area of 159 sq km. It was established in April 1986. On the East, it is bordered by Western Bhutan and Sikkim.
The forests of this national park consist of mixed species, e.g., rhododendron, bamboo, oak, ferns, sal, etc. A variety of wildlife is found in the national park along with endangered species such as the clouded leopard, red panda, sloth bear, golden cat, goril, seraw, wild bear and musk deer.
• SINGALILA NATIONAL PARK
In West Bengal, Singalila National Park is located in Darjeeling district. It is extended over an area of 78.60 sq km. It is the highest national park in West Bengal as it is situated in high altitude (above 7000 ft). It was announced as a National Park in January 1992.
The major plant species found in this park are the rhododendron, mangolia, oak, silver fir, juniper, bamboo, etc. A variety of wildlife found in the national park, such as leopard, serow, pangolin, red panda, barking deer, Himalayan black bear, and leopard cat.
• BUXA NATIONAL PARK
In West Bengal, Buxa National Park is located on Terai region in Alipurduar district. It covers an area of about 117 sq km. It was announced as a National Park in January 1992. The Buxa National Park is a part of the Buxa Tiger Reserve which was created in 1983 as the 15th Tiger Reserve.
The term ‘Buxa‘ has been derived from the Buxa Fort which is in the close proximity.
Buxa national park is abundant in biodiversity. It is the house of a great collection of rare orchids and medicinal plants. A variety of wildlife found in the national park, such as leopard, fishing cat, leopard cat, giant squirrels, mongooses, Asian elephant, gaur, clawless otter, cheetal, sambar, barking deer, etc. Additionally, a variety species of birds also inhabit here such as hornbill, ibis bill, migratory goosanders, black-necked crane, migratory common teal, black stork, large whistling teal, minivets, white-eyed poachard, etc.
• GORUMARA NATIONAL PARK
It is situated in the Duars region (rolling hill slopes) of the Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal. It is located on the bank of the Murti river and has a large variety of flora and fauna. It extends over an area of 79.45 sq km. In 1992, Gorumara has declared a National Park.
The forest of the Gorumara National Park is moist deciduous and among them, sal is the most common and valuable tree. A variety of wildlife found in the national park such as the most popular one-horned rhinoceros, elephant, bison, leopard, different species of deer, turtles python, monkey, etc, and more than 200 species of birds.
• JALDAPARA NATIONAL PARK
Jaldapara National park is located in the Alipurduar district of West Bengal. It covers an area of about 216.51 sq km. It was declared as a National Park in May 2012. River Torsa runs along the park.
After Kaziranga National Park in Assam, Jaldapara is considered as the largest population of the Indian one-horned rhinoceros. Including this, other animals habitats in the park such as leopard, elephant, different species of deer, wild pig, and bison. Among the birds, the Bengal florican bird is also settled here.
II. WILDLIFE SANCTUARIES IN WEST BENGAL
The wildlife sanctuary is a protected area (ranges from 0.61-7818 sq.km.) that provides protection for species from hunting and poaching, but other activities are allowed in it to a certain extent. It is an area of the forest, which is declared by the forest authority with sanction from State Government in which killing, hunting, shooting or capturing of any animal is prohibited but researched-work may be done with prior permission. Tourists and visitors are allowed with permission from the forest department.
The largest wildlife sanctuary in West Bengal is Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary whereas the smallest wildlife sanctuary is Jorepokhri Wildlife Sanctuary.
There are some popular wildlife sanctuaries in West Bengal are discussed below:
• SENCHAL WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
In West Bengal, Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Darjeeling district. It expands over an area of 38.6 sq km. It was established in 1915.
High-altitude animals are found here, e.g., barking deer, wild pig, Himalayan black bear, leopard, jungle cat, common rhesus monkey, Assam macaque, Himalayan flying squirrel, etc.
• LOTHIAN ISLAND WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
In West Bengal, Lothian Island Wildlife Sanctuary is located in South 24 Parganas district. It expands over an area of 38 sq km. It was established in 1976.
It is a part of deltaic Sundarbans which harbour a tropical estuarine swamp forest and it is the house of a great variety of species like Estuarine crocodile, olive ridley sea turtle, rhesus monkey, jungle cat, and spotted deer.
• MAHANANDA WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
In West Bengal, Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Darjeeling district. It extends over an area of 159 sq km. It was announced as a wildlife sanctuary in 1976. This sanctuary is located in the Terai plains of Darjeeling in between the Mahananda river and the Teesta river.
Nine major forest ranges include in this sanctuary, they are Kalijhora, Latpanchor, Punding, Sukuna, Gulma, Toribari, Sevoke, Seventh Mile, and Latlong.
An interesting feature of this sanctuary is the presence of the Terai belt which is an important corridor for elephants migrating from Nepal through West Bengal to Assam. A wide variety of species including endangered species resides here, for example, Bengal Tiger, elephants, bison, spotted deer, rare mountain goat, porcupines, hornbill, swallow, swift, sunbird, etc.
• SAJNEKHALI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
In West Bengal, Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary is located in South 24 Parganas district. It covers an area of 362.80 sq km. It was established in the year 1976. It is considered a part of the Sundarbans ecosystem. It is situated on the junction of Matla and Gumdi rivers.
It is full of a variety of fauna such as spotted billed pelican, cotton teal, Caspian tern, large egret, open-billed stork, white ibis, common kingfisher, herring gull, night heron, grey heron, and paradise flycatcher.
• PAKHI BITAN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Pakhi Bitan Wildlife Sanctuary is newly added in the list of wildlife sanctuaries of West Bengal. It was established in the year 2011. It covers an area of about 14.09 sq km. It resides in the foreshore of Teesta barrage nearby the Gajaldoba waterbody in the Jalpaiguri district.
It is committed to the conservation of the habitat of aquatic birds. Different exotic species of Migratory birds come in winter every year.
Table: Other Wildlife Sanctuaries (WLS) of West Bengal
|Haliday Island WLS||5.95 sq km||1976||South 24 Parganas||Cheetal, wild pigs, barking deer, the rhesus monkey.|
|Ballabhpur WLS||2 sq km||1977||Birbhum||Located between Ajay and Damodar rivers.|
|Bethuadahari WLS||0.67 sq km||1980||Nadia||Deer, jackal, fox, parakeet, reptiles like python, gharial.|
|Bibhutibhushan WLS||0.64 sq km||1980||North 24 Parganas||Earlier known as the Parmadan forest, situated at the banks of lchamati river.|
|Ramnabagan WLS||0.14 sq km||1981||Bardhaman||Deer, langur, parakeets, snakes.|
|Chintamoni Kar WLS||0.068 sq km||1982||South 24 Parganas||Also known as Kayaler Bagan Bird Sanctuary. Home to fruit trees and many species of birds.|
|Narendrapur WLS||69 sq km||1982||South 24 Parganas||Rich in migratory birds, paradise flycatcher, oriole.|
|Jorepokhri WLS||0.04 sq km||1985||Darjeeling||Himalayan salamander locally known as Gora is found here.|
|Raiganj WLS||1.3 sq km||1985||North Dinajpur||Also known as Kulik Bird Sanctuary. Hoopoe, woodpecker, black ramped flame back, oriole, drongo, coppersmith Barbet are common species of birds.|
|Chapramari WLS||9.6 sq km||1998||Jalpaiguri||Teesta, Noara, and Murti rivers flow through it.|
III. ELEPHANT RESERVES IN WEST BENGAL
Reserved Forest is the protected forest area where hunting of animals and cutting of trees is prohibited. The forest authority with sanction from State Government may declare any forest as a reserved forest where due to poaching or other reasons may cause the wildlife in danger or gradually diminishes the wildlife.
Besides National Parks and Sanctuaries, there are also elephant reserves in West Bengal. These are as follows:
• EASTER DUARS ELEPHANT RESERVE
In West Bengal, Easter Duars Elephant Reserve is located in the Jalpaiguri district. It extends over an area of 977.51 sq km. It was announced as an elephant reserve on 4th October 2001.
It is divided into two zones i.e. core zone and buffer zone. The core zone covers an area of 484 sq km consisting of Buxa Tiger Reserve and Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary. The buffer zone covers an area of 493.51 sq km consisting of some forest blocks of Jalpaiguri.
• MAYURJHARNA ELEPHANT RESERVE
This reserve is situated between the border West Midnapore and Bankura in West Bengal. It covers an area of 414.06 sq km and the nearby 1,436 sq km of land is known as the ‘Zone of Influence‘.
It was announced as Elephant Reserve on 24th October 2002.
IV. ZOOLOGICAL PARKS IN WEST BENGAL
The West Bengal Government has established the West Bengal Zoo Authority in 2010 and it has taken the ownership of the administrative control of 11 zoos which are mentioned below:
Table: Zoological Parks of West Bengal
|Zoological Garden||Alipore, Kolkata|
|Padmaja Naidu Zoological Garden||Darjeeling|
|Rasikbil Zoo||Cooch Behar|
|Kunjuanagar Rescue Centre||Jalpaiguri|
|South Khairbari Rehabilitation Centre||Jalpaiguri|
|Garchumuk Deer Park||Howrah|
|Adina Deer Park||Malda|
|Kumari Kangsabati Deer Park||Bankura|
|Surulia Mini Zoo||Purulia|
Tutorial 09: Drainage System / River System of West Bengal
Tutorial 08: Types of Soil in West Bengal
Tutorial 07: Climate of West Bengal
Tutorial 06: Natural Vegetation of West Bengal
Tutorial 05: Geographical Features of West Bengal
Tutorial 04: Modern History of Bengal & Popular Movements
Tutorial 03: Medieval History of Bengal
Tutorial 02: Ancient History of West Bengal
SANCTUARYa consecrated place where sacred objects are keptMore (Definitions, Synonyms, Translation)
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