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Bannerghatta National Park
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Set up in 1974 the Bannerghatta National Park serves as a protective green buffer against the effects of Bangalore city's accelerated growth. Occupying an area of 104.27 sq km the park lies between longitudes 12o34'2.39"E to 12o50'33.61"E and latitudes 77o31'21.04"N to 77o38'20.58"N. Elevation of the park averages 732 m and annual rainfall is around 1,023 mm. Situated 22 km from Bangalore city with the Swarnamukhi river cascading through it, the park is notable for having India's first butterfly conservation garden. Water resources for the park include 35 artificial tanks, two perennial artificial waterholes, 50 check dams, three seasonal streams and five reservoirs (Lal et al. 1994).

The vegetation in this park is a mix of southern tropical dry deciduous forests, southern thorn forests and South Indian moist deciduous forests (Pascal et al. 1992). Trees found here include jalari or lac tree, chujjullu, neem (Azadirachta indica), tamarind (Tamarindus indicus), Anogeissus latifoliam, Pterocarpus marsupium, Pterocarpus spp. Terminalia spp. Other species of trees found in abundance are Santalum album, Shorea roxburghii, Syzygium spp., Tectona grandis and Emblica officinalis. Bamboo too are common in this park with the dominant species being Dendrocalamus strictus (Lal et al. 1994). The Forest Department has also planted eucalyptus hybrids, Bauhinia purpurea, elder (Samanea saman), copper (Peltophorum pterocarpum), Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis), and species of Syzygium and Terminalia in selected areas of the park (Lal et al. 1994).

The park has a museum and a zoological garden, which also houses an aviary and reptile house. It is a popular weekend destination for busy Bangaloreans because of the lion, tiger and elephant safari tours and the butterfly park. Large mammals in this park include Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), Indian bison or gaur (Bos gaurus), leopard (Panthera pardus), sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), sambar (Cervus unicolor), spotted deer or chital (Axis axis), barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), common langur (Semnopithecus entellus), wild pig (Sus scrofa) and other small mammals (Lal et al. 1994, Subramanya and IBA 2004).

Recognised as an Important Bird Area, the park has over 195 species of birds. These include two 'Critically endangered' vulture species-the Oriental white-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis) and long-billed vulture (Gyps indicus) (Subramanya and IBA 2004). 'Vulnerable' species like the greater spotted eagle (Aquila changa), yellow-throated bulbul (Pycnonotus santholaemus) and Nilgiri wood-pigeon (Columba elphinstonii) too have been sighted here. Others like the painted storks (Mycteria leucocephala) and pallid harrier (Circus macrourus), which are 'Near threatened' species, are also seen here. Interestingly, birds restricted to the tropical moist forests like small green-billed malkhoa (Phaenicophaeus viridirostris) and white-cheeked barbet (Megalaima viridis) too can be spotted here (Islam and Rahmani 2004, Lal et al. 1994, Subramanya and IBA 2004). Five of the Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forests) and 33 of Biome-11 (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone) speices have been recorded from here.

Reptiles seen in this park include common sand boa (Eryx conicus), common cobra (Naja naja), Indian rock python (Python molurus), common vine snake (Ahaetulla nasuta), bamboo pit viper (Trimesurus gramineus), Russell's viper (Daboia russelii), marsh crocodile (Crocodylus palustris) and Indian monitor lizard (Varanus bangalensis) (Lal et al. 1994, Subramanya and IBA 2004).

The butterfly park which is spread out over a 7.5 acre area has an exhibit centre, dioramas and a 10,000 square feet conservatory where over 20 species of butterflies thrive. Organisations that have helped set it up include the Zoo Authority of Karnataka, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore and the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bangalore.

Developmental pressures from the expansion of Bangalore, such as quarrying, are threatening natural habitats within the park. Quarrying activities from 40 illegal quarries surrounding the national park, inspite of a ban from the High Court, are a disturbance to the wildlife (Subramanya et al. 2004). The sound from quarrying especially affects elephants that often run helter-skelter amidst the villages. In 2004, the Ministry of Mines and Geology had suspended nearly 31 leases for stone quarries as well as banned the use of six stone crushing machines within the park (PA Update 2004).

There have been reports of large groups of elephants (as many as 35) straying into the neighboring villages of Begehalli, Ramasagara and Nallasandra near Jigani in Anekal taluk (PA Update 2006). Some of the farmers around Bannerghatta have connected the fencing around the farmlands to high voltage currents. Therefore, electrocution of elephants and other wildlife that attempt to enter into the nearby farming lands is another serious threat. Due to the large number of human-elephant conflicts, a project to track the elephants in Bannerghata National Park using Geographical Information System based radio collars is underway. The project is being led by Dr Sukumar of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in coordination with the Forest Department. Other organisations working on finding solutions to the human-elephant conflict are the Institute for Natural Resources Conservation, Education, Research and Training (INCERT) the Protection of Elephants and Care of the Environment (Subramanya et al. 2004).

Additional threats to the park include plans by the state government to construct a science city on a 100 acre spot of land close to the park (PA Update 2003), encroachment of forest land by industrialists (PA Update 2006), cutting trees for firewood, forest fires especially between February and May (Lal et al. 1994), and overgrazing. Colonisations of the forest by exotic invasives are serious hindrances to the floral biodiversity to the park. Other threats include commercial forestry initiatives, which encroach on the natural vegetation (Lal et al. 1994, Subramanya and IBA 2004).

In 2001 INCERT along with the Forest Department carried out an investigation that revealed that trade in wildlife skin and fur happens at an alarming rate in Bannerghatta (PA Update 2001).

The park has hundreds of stone slabs used as burial coffins by members of the Irula community and form an interesting cultural and archaeological relic. These stone slabs measuring 10 feet wide and two feet thick are known as Pandavara gavi and can be found inside the park, especially on Mettabande, Dodda Ragihallibetta, Chikka Ragihallibetta and Mirza hills. Destruction of these stone slabs using explosives have also been reported (PA Update 2005).

However, despite the threats and loss of habitat in several parts of this protected area, this park remains Bangalore's most popular 'green lung'.


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.

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. Bannerghatta National Park. In: Directory of national parks and sanctuaries in Karnataka: Management status and profiles. Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi, India. pp 41-45.

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

PA Update. 2001. Wildlife trade around Bannerghatta. October (33).

PA Update. 2003. Science city adjoining Bannerghatta to cut off forest corridor. October (45):9.

PA Update. 2004. Quarrying leases near Bannerghatta suspended. April (47&48):10.

PA Update. 2005. Threat to archeological treasures inside Bannerghata NP. June (55):8.

PA Update. 2006. 750 acres of Bannerghata NP encroached by industrialists. October (63):10.

PA Update. 2006. Elephants stray from Bannerghata NP. December (64):8.

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

Subramanya, S and IBA Team. 2004. Bannerghatta 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 543-544.

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