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Bandipur National Park
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Established in 1974 at the foothills of the Western Ghats, the Bandipur National Park covers an area of 874.2 sq km and forms a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Situated on the south Karnataka border in Chamrajnagar district, with the Nilgiri mountains as a backdrop, this park lies between the longitudes 11o52'49.3"E to 11o56'57.34"E and latitudes 76o12'30.38"N to 76o52'8.54"N. With an elevation that ranges between 390-1,450 m this protected area receives an annual rainfall of 1,092 mm.

Water sources in the park include the rivers Kabini, Mavinahall, Nugu and Moyar and 12 of their seasonal tributaries. Besides this, 120 waterholes and 14 check dams ensure an adequate water supply for the wildlife and birds (Lal et al. 1994).

The vegetation type is mainly scrub in the eastern parts, dry deciduous forests in the central area and tropical, moist mixed deciduous forests in the western regions (Pascal et al. 1992). Common species of trees that dominate the dry deciduous forests include: Anogeissus latifolia, Terminalia tomentosa, Chloroxylon swietenia and Albizia amara. In the moist mixed deciduous forests, tree species seen are Dendrocalamus strictus, Lagerstroemia lanceolata, Lagerstroemia microcarpa, Dalbergia latifolia, Peterocarpus marsupium, Salmalia malabarica, Adina cordifolia, Sterospermum zylocarpum, Schleichera oleosa, Terminalia tomentosa and Ficus infectoria (Neginhal 1974, Jain and Sastry 1983). The favorite food of the elephants, Kylia calycina and Bambusa arundinacea plants, are also found abundantly in these forests (Lal et al. 1994, Shivanand 2004).

This park is home to a large Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) population. It is one of the few parks in India, which has reported a steady rise in the population of tigers (Panthera tigris), and has been recognised as a Project Tiger Reserve since 1973. The high elephant and tiger populations in this sanctuary are indicative of large, relatively intact natural habitats. Other mammalian inhabitants of the park are leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis), wild dogs (Cuon alpinus), wild pigs (Sus scrofa) and striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena). All the deer species present in the Western Ghats like the barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), sambar (Cervus unicolor), chital or spotted deer (Axis axis), four-horned antelopes (Tetracerus quadricornis) and mouse deer (Moschiola meminna) too can be spotted here. Other species seen in this park include, Indian bison or gaur (Bos gaurus), sloth bears, (Melursus ursinus), jungle cats (Felix chaus) and jackals (Canis aureus) (Lal et al. 1994, Shivanand 2004).

Recognised as an Important Bird Area more than 180 species of birds have been reported from here including eight restricted range species that include the blue-winged parakeet (Psittacula columboides), Malabar grey hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) and white-bellied treepie (Dendrocygna leucogastra) to name a few (Islam and Rahmani 2004). The 'Critically endangered' Oriental white-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis) and 'Vulnerable' species like the lesser adjutant (Leptopilos javanicus), Niligiri wood-pigeon (Columba elphinstonii), yellow-throated bulbul (Pycnonotus xantholaemus) and the pied tit (Parus nuchalis) (Shivanand 2004) are also recorded here. Bandipur being at the edge of the Biome-11 (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone) and Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forests) region harbours elements from both biomes.

Snake species found here include king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), Indian rock python (Python molurus), common cobra (Naja naja), banded racer (Argyogena fasciolatus), common bronzeback tree snake (Dendrelaphis tristis), common vine snake (Ahaetulla nasuta), common cat snake (Boiga trigonata), olive keelback snake (Atretium schistosum), Russell's kukri snake (Oligodon taeniolata), Travancore wolf snake (Lycodon travancoricus) and saw-scaled viper (Echis carinatus). Marsh crocodiles (Crocodylus palustris) are also found here.

Recently, a survey carried out by a Mysore based non-governmental organisation (NGO) called 'The Green Club' also listed nearly 150 unidentified insect species (PA Update 2003).

The park is surrounded by over 200 villages home to 1.6 lakh villagers (Shivanand 2004) and a large population of cattle, estimated to number 1.5 lakhs that graze inside the park. During times of critical water shortage in the absence of adequate rainfall it is a routine practice for farmers in the nearby villages to send their cattle into these forests (PA Update 2003). Infectious diseases like foot and mouth disease transmitted from domestic animals to wild animals, especially to deer and gaur is a serious threat. Poaching (Jain 2001), firewood collection and human-animal conflicts are other serious threats (Shivanand 2004). Colonisation by invasive species like Lantana camara, Eupatorium, Chromolaena odorata, Decastichia crotonifolia, Lea chirensis and species of Indigofera and Desmodium is another reason for loss of biodiversity in the park. Forest fires too cause severe destruction of habitat and wildlife (Lal et al. 1994, Shivanand 2004, PA Update 2007).

The park also suffers from vehicular air and noise pollution caused by two roads on which heavy traffic ply. The Mysore-Sultan Bathery-Kozhikode national highway and one state highway run through this national park. Injuries from accidents and deaths to wildlife caused by speeding vehicles, and elephant poaching are other serious threats (Shivanand 2004). Some efforts are being made by the Forest Department to minimise the threats and injuries due to traffic. In 2003, the Karnataka state Forest Department with assistance from the National Highway Authority of India had plans to install rumble strips on the two national highways (PA Update 2003). Efforts to minimise threats due to poaching have also been initiated by NGOs like the Wildlife Trust of India that organised a training for staff in Bandipur in 2001 (PA Update 2001).

Other NGOs active here include the Himagiri Conservation Society that started an afforestation project in 2001 to restore 0.2 sq km of deforested land (PA Update 2001) and the Asian Elephant Research and Conservation Centre (AERCC), Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore involved in elephant census using Global Positioning Systems (GPS). The GPS also serves as a valuable tool to identify vegetation in the park (PA Update 2001). Conservation measures undertaken by the state Forest Department include protection of the Kaniyanpura elephant corridor (PA Update 2001).


Islam, M. Z and Rahmani, A. R. 2004. Important bird areas in India: Priority sites for conservation. Indian Bird Conservation Network: Bombay Natural History Society and Birdlife International, UK. 1133 pp.

Jain, P. 2001. Project Tiger Status Report. Project Tiger, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, India.

Jain, S.K and Sastry, A.R.K. 1983. Botany of some tiger habitats in India. Botanical Survey of India. Howrah, India. 71 pp.

Kazmierczak, K. 2000. A field guide to the birds of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistn, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and the Maldives. OM Book Service, New Delhi, India.352 pp.

Lal, R., Kothari, A., Pande, P and Singh, S. (eds).1994. Bandipur National Park. In: Directory of national parks and sanctuaries in Karnataka: Management status and profiles. Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi, India. pp 28-40.

Menon, V. 2003. A field guide to Indian mammals. DK (India) Pvt Ltd and Penguin Book India (P) Ltd. 201 pp.

Neginhal, S.G. 1974. Project Tiger Management Plan of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka State, India. 142 pp.

PA Update. 2001. Anti-poaching training for Bandipur staff. June (30&31).

PA Update. 2001. Kaniyanpura elephant corridor to be protected. June (30&31).

PA Update. 2001. Forest restoration around Bandipur; tiger conservation workshop held. June (30&31).

PA Update. 2001. New model for wildlife census in Bandipur. June (30&31).

PA Update. 2003. Rumble strips planned for national highway through Bandipur TR to prevent animal deaths. October (45):10.

PA Update. 2003. Severe water shortage results in invasion by cattle of Bandipur TR and Nugu WLS. December (46):7.

PA Update. 2003. Survey throws up 150 unnamed insect species in Bandipur NP. December (46):7.

PA Update. 2007. Fire threat to Bandipur, Nagarhole NPs. April (66):8-9.

Pascal, J.P., Ramesh, B.R and Kichenassamy, K. 1992. Forest map of South India: Bangalore-Salem. French Institute, Pondicherry, India.

Shivanand, T. 2004. Bandipur National Park. In: Important Bird Areas in India: Priority sites for conservation. (Islam, M. Z and Rahmani, A. R).Indian Bird Conservation Network: Bombay Natural History Society and Birdlife International, UK. pp 541-542.

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