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Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary
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The Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary located in Chikmagalur and Shimoga districts was earlier known as Jagara Valley Wildlife Sanctuary and declared a protected area by the Government of India in 1951. In 1974 it was renamed as Bhadra Tiger Reserve covering an area of 492.46 sq km. The reserve lies between the longitudes 13°22'29.14"E to 13°46'15.89"E and latitudes 75°29'4.89"N to 75°44'38.26"N. It receives an annual rainfall of 1,413 mm of rain and elevation ranges from 609-1,397 m. There has been a proposal to convert the reserve into a national park and also to make it a biosphere reserve. Water sources include the Bhadra river and its reservoir, five seasonal reservoirs, 11 seasonal lakes and many artificial tanks (Lal et al. 1994).

Forests types in this sanctuary include southern dry, mixed deciduous forests, southern moist, mixed deciduous forests and western sub tropical hill forests (Rodgers and Panwar 1988). Evergreen shola forests dominate the eastern part of this sanctuary. With a floral diversity of over 120 species, tree species found here include Tectona grandis, Terminalia tomentosa, Terminalia paniculata, Pterocarpus marsupium, Lagerstroemia lanceolata, Dendrocalamus strictus, Bambusa arunadinacea, and species of Ficus and Dillenia (Karanth 1982). The moist deciduous forests are marked by a predominance of Lagerstroemia microcarpa, Tectona grandis and Dillenia pentagyna types. Tree species predominant in the dry deciduous scrub forests include Anogeissus pendula, Terminalia tomentosa and Boswellia spp. (Pascal et al. 1982). Wild ginger grows in abundance on the forest floor (Ahmed and NCF 2004). The forests also have a large number of Dalberga latifolia, Pterocarpus marsupium, Ficus arnottiana, mathi and kindal trees.

Bhadra Tiger Reserve is a favorite haunt of the Indian bison or gaur (Bos gaurus) with nearly 1,000 resident animals (Ahmed and NCF 2004). Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), tigers (Panthera tigris), leopards (Panthera pardus), wild dogs (Cuon alpinus) and the rare rusty spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) too can be seen here (Ahmed and NCF 2004). A wildlife census carried out in 2005 has put the elephant population at 209, with double the number of females as compared to males (PA Update 2005). Some of the other mammals seen here include chital or spotted deer (Axis axis), sambar (Cervus unicolor), barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), slender loris (Loris lyddekerianus), mouse deer (Moschiola meminna) and red giant flying squirrels (Petaurista petaurista). Otters (Lutra sp.) too can be spotted in large numbers (Lal et al. 1994, Ahmed and NCF 2004).

Recognised as an Important Bird Area, as many as 100 species of birds have been identified in this reserve including 'Vulnerable' species like the lesser adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus), Nilgiri wood-pigeon (Columba elphinstonii) and 'Near threatened' species like the darter (Anhinga melanogaster). As many as seven of the 16 species of birds endemic to the Western Ghats like the blue-winged parakeet (Psittacula columboides), Malabar grey hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) and white-bellied treepie (Dendrocygna leucogastra) are found here (Islam and Rahmani 2004). Twelve of the 15 Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forests) species like the Malabar trogon (Harpactes fasciatus), Malabar pied hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus), Loten's sunbird (Nectarinia lotenia) and blue-winged parakeet (Psitacula columboides) have all been sighted in these forests (Ahmed and NCF 2004). Bhadra Tiger Reserve is also an important breeding ground for the river tern (Sterna aurantia) and every monsoon thousands of birds come to nest here (Ahmed and NCF 2004).

Some of the reptiles commonly sighted in this park include, common vine snake (Ahaetulla nasutus), king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), common cobra (Naja naja), Russell's viper (Daboia russelii), bamboo pit viper (Trimesurus gramineus), rat snake (Ptyas mucosus), olive keelback (Atretium schistosum), common wolf snake (Lycodon aulicus), common Indian monitor (Varanus bangalensis), draco or gliding lizards (Draco dussumieri) and marsh crocodiles (Crocodylus palustris) (Lal et al. 1994, Ahmed and NCF 2004).

Bhadra faces a range of threats; from large scale infrastructure development projects to forest fire, poaching, firewood collection and grazing. Approximately 36,000 people live in the 26 villages surrounding this protected area (Ahmed and NCF 2004). A number of villages inside the sanctuary were recently relocated in one of the more successful attempts to move people out of protected areas. There are still about 750 families living in the core area of this reserve. There are also a number of coffee plantations located inside the sanctuary. In addition, the Kemmanagundi iron ore mines and the Bhadra Irrigation Project have caused considerable habitat fragmentation and water pollution (PA Update 2004, Ahmed and NCF 2004). Forest fires are a major threat. In March 2004, nearly 270 sq km of the Muthodi range was burnt, resulting in destruction of almost 80% of the forests (PA Update 2004).

Several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are actively working towards protecting the sanctuary from development projects, timber felling and bamboo extraction and also in conducting research and monitoring. These include Wildlife First! (PA Update 1998), Nature Conservation Foundation and the Centre for Wildlife Studies. Other NGOs active in this protected area include the Nature Conservation Guild and Wildlife Conservation Action Team (PA Update 2002).


Ahmed, A and Nature Conservation Foundation .2004. Bhadra Tiger Reserve. 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 545-546.

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.

Karanth, U .1982. Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary and its endangered ecosystem. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 79 (1):79-86.

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. Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. In: Directory of national parks and sanctuaries in Karnataka: Management status and profiles. Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi, India. pp 71-77.

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

PA Update. 1998. The Karnataka Tiger Conservation Project. October (18).

PA Update. 2000. Livestock/ Wildlife study in Bhadra. January (23).

PA Update. 2002. Windmill project to affect Bhadra WLS. December (40).

PA Update. 2003. Carl Zeiss Wildlife Conservation Award for 2002. April (41&42).

PA Update. 2004. 68,000 tons of silt load reported in River Bhadra. April (67&68):10-11.

PA Update. 2004. Fire destroys large part of Bhadra WLS. June (49):7.

PA Update. 2005. Elephant census in Bhadra; male to female ratio is 1:2. August (56):7 .

Pascal, J. P., Shyam Sundar, S and Meher-Homji, V.M. 1982. Forest map of South India: Shimoga. French Institute, Pondicherry, India.

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