About Rajaji National Park & Rajaji Tiger Reserve
Let's understand what is Rajaji Naional Park & Rajaji Tiger Reserve
April 20th 2015, The wildlife enthusiasts have a reason to cheer. The state Government after a long wait of about 30 years, has at last issued the final notification for the Rajaji National Park which consists of 9 ranges and is spread over 820.40 sq.km. of Haridwar, Pauriand Dehradun districts of Uttarakhand. The initial notification for the setting up of the Park under the Project Elephant was issued in 1983. However the final notification could not be issued since various hurdles had to be cleared. It may be recalled here that the Park, which marks the northern limits of the Asiatic elephant, is one of the safest heavens for jumbos in the country. At present, there are about 415 elephants in the Park and the male, female ratio is excellent.
About Tiger Reserve A few month ago, the Tiger Conservation Authority of India had agreed to grant to the Park the status of a Tiger Reserve, making it the second tiger reserve of the state. The first being the Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve, which was the first Tiger reserve of country. Wildlife Protection Society of India, Haridwar’s head Mr. Rajendra Agarwal, says, “It is indeed a matter of great delight for the wildlife conservationists of Uttarakhand. The Rajaji Park, besides being an Elephant Reserve , now will also be a Tiger Reserve , now will also be a Tiger Project and, thus it becomes the first National Park in the state to run the two most prestigious wildlife conservation projects- The Project Elephant and The Project Tiger.
The granting of the status of Project Tiger in the Park required firstly, that the final notification for the National Park status be issued. Now with the issuing of the Final notification, decks have been cleared for the launch of Project Tiger in the Park. After the exact mapping of the Rajaji Park boundaries, 14 revenue villages on the periphery of the Gohari Range of the park have been excluded from the park boundary. As per directions of the Tiger Conservative Authority of India, the Rajaji National Park Resort core area of the Rajaji Tiger Project, while about 300 sq.km. of Shyampur range of the Haridwar forest division and parts of Kotdwar and Laldhang forest division, which function as a buffer zone, will also be included in the Tiger Project, augmented area to 1150 sq.km.
Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (Raja ji)
Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (Raja ji) was born on Dec.10th 1878. In 1900 he finished his studies in law. The nation discovered Rajaji in 1922, when the congress met at Gaya. In the word of the youth delegate Subhash Chandra Bose, ‘Rajaji was the hero of Gaya Congress’. Rajaji later played a very crucial role in the signing of the historic 1932 Poona (Yerveda)pact. Gandhi ji was fasting in prison and Rajaji, then acting President of the Congress was the key mediator between Dr. Ambedkar and Mahatma
Rajaji was appointed Governor of West Bengal in 1947after India’s independence. As Governor General he visited Dehradun in 1948, and was taken to the Shooting Block of the erstwhile Dehradun East Forest Division. On seeing the pristine beauty of the area he refused to hunt and suggested that this area must be conserved for his beauty. This eventually led to formation of Rajaji Wildlife Sanctuary. As anode to him when the National Park was formed in 1983 it was named after him.
Rajaji Tiger Reserve (Rajaji National Park)
About Rajaji Tiger Reserve
Ranipur Tourism Zone is situated in the western side of the reserve. Chances of sighting of nilgai, deer, wild boar, pheasants, leopards and elephants are high in this zone. It is just 5 kms from Haridwar BBHEl Gate no. 3, on the Haridwar Mohand Road. The FRH’s at Ranipur and Beribara are also located in this zone. Hathiwala circuit of approx 12km has been opened to visitors in 2015. It may be accessed by road leading to Sureshwari Devi temple from the entry gate. It is slightly tricky route with narrow passes and is allowed only if accompanied by forest staff. The circuit ends at the Harnol Chowki which is 12 km from the Ranipur FRH..
Mohand Tourism Zone is on the Delhi-Dunderhead National Highway 72A. A 13Km drive through Chillawali range to the Dholkhand FRH crossing Chillawali and Andheri rau is very interesting and assures sighting of Cheetal, Sambhar, Nilgai and other animals through the mixed forests. The Mohand machan near the gate and the Dholkhand FRH is must stop over to see a host of animals and birds. This zone falls in the southern aspect of the Shiwalik which is generally steeper and more eroded.Tall, exposed cliff covered with tufts of Bhabhar grass attract Gorals. Early morning is a good time to see them grazing here with a good pair of binoculars.
Flora & Fauna in Rajaji Tiger Reserve
About Flora & Fauna
Rajaji Tiger Reserve , comprising of varied ecosystems like grasslands, river in forests and the slopes of the Shiwaliks make it a storehouse of floral and faunal diversity. The trees, shrubs, orchids, fungi, mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects make exploring the reserve an adventurous experience. Rajaji represents floral elements of both the Himalayan and the Upper Gangetic Plains. Owing to its location between both these bio- geographic regions, it is home to one of the most diverse ranges of wildlife habitats in the country. The eight major forests types including the Western Gangetic Moist, Northern Dry Deciduous and Khair-Sissoo forests in the southern slopes, the Low Alluvial Savannah Woodlands in the southern margins of the reserve, and the Shiwalik Chir-Pine forests in the higher reaches of the hills makes this area rich of bio diversity.
The majestic sal along with its associates dominates most of the forests in the gentler northern slopes of Rajaji Tiger Reserve. Some trees grow up to 80ft with a girth of 5 ft. The sal trees shed their leaves between February to March and soon changes hues from brownish red to pale green to dark green. During March and April the forest is filled with the mild scent of the sal trees in full blossom. There are a lot of fruit bearing trees which are a treat to watch with several birds and animals feeding on them. The fruits of the harar and behera trees are eaten by birds and animals ranging from elephants to mice. Jamun, Chilla, Ber, Lassora, Aonla, Ficus, Bel, Sisham are few out of the 30 species of fruit-bearing trees found in reserve. Rajaji National Park also harbours some of the rare and threatened plants which include Catamixis baccharoides (Asteraceae), Eremostachys superba (Lamiaceae), Euphorbia fusiformis (Euphorbiaceae), gloriosa superba (Colchicaceae) etc.
Of these E. superb is one the most beautiful tuberous native species of the region and is known only from the area around Mohan. Other interesting species C. baccharoides, represented by a single species all the world is found on the steeply lower slopes of lower Shiwaliks. Tubers of E.fusiformis and G. superb are generally used for medicinal purposes. Since Rajaji is a rich repository of both floral and faunal elements, it is necessary to conserve these by inside conservation practices. Rajaji is a home to 36 species of orchids which is a reflection of the pristine habitat. One can find several species of fungi in the reserve. Their ability to re-cycle the food locked in dead and decaying matter offer conducive breeding ground for several insects such as moths and beetles which in turn have great relevance in maintain the balance of the ecosystem. Tiger population so only confined to Chilla and Gohri ranges and the buffer zone of the reserve.
Rajaji Tiger Reserve Geographic Importance
About Geographical Importance
The Rajaji Tiger Reserve is located in the foothills of the Shiwaliks ranges which extended over 1500 km in India and 600 km in Nepal. The Shiwaliks hills are one the most prominent and well vegetated area in Uttrakhand and Rajaji boasts of being the only rajaji tiger reserve in its lap. The 10-20 million years old Shiwaliks are composed of sedimentary rocks such as sandstone, clay and conglomerates and are very rich in fossils. The hill ranges vary from 200m at the terminal slope to 1,000m at the peaks. The alluvial nature of the soil makes the Shiwalik very fertile as they are the first formidable barriers to the monsoon clouds that sweep through the plains and bring good showers in the region. The foothills of the Shiwaliks and the continuing plains are called ‘bhabar’, characterized by very low water table and boulder strewn seasonal streams called ‘raus’ and ‘sots’ with comparatively less debris. The river Ganga along with the various seasonal rau’s and sot’s (perennial streams) quench the reserve forest, providing for a rich habitat to support the extensive biodiversity of the reserve. It decides the reserve into two halves as it flows for about 25km through the reserve.
Roughly 570sq km of forest is on the west bank while 250sq km is om the east bank. The stetch of the forest along the ganga is one of the largest stretches through her course starting from Haridwar up to Ganga Sagar. There are small islands on the Ganga called the ‘Ganga Majhada’(islands). However after the cloud burst and the subsequent flooding of the Ganga in 2013 they have almost disappeared. The turbulent Ganga emerges from the Himalayas and begin her journey through the Indo-Gangetic plains through the reserves. The junction of the Gangetic plains and the outer Himalayas gives rise to the rich eco-tone that is unique in its diversity with a vegetation representative of several habitats, which further has an effect on the entire Gangetic plains. The reserve is characterized by the numerous sots’ or rau’s which are full of gushing water during the rainy seasons from june to September and run day in summers. Among them are the Jamun sot and Beri sot named after Jamun and Ber trees. There are more than 300 raus and sots, which make the topography of the reserve quite unique. This special geological feature makes conservation of the soil moisture and water obligatory.
About Geographical Importance
The Shakti canal has narrow bridges over it for crossing at various plaes. Initially only male elephants used these to cross over to the ganga river but instances of elephant groups using these narrow bridgs have also been recorded. The Song river flows 500m from the Forest Rest House(FRH) at Satyanarayan on the periphery of the reserve and the Ganga near Gohri Maafi. The Suswa flows in the southern direction along the Phandowala FRH. Most part of the Suswa forms the natural northern boundary of the reserve. During winters some 40 species of the migratory birds such as black stork, little cormorants, fantail snipe, mallard, ponchard, shellduck, wagtail and sandpipers flock to the river making it a breathtaking sight.The river which one had mahaseer and the Indian trout today is no less than a merge drain of sewage collected from Dehradun as it flows through the tiger reserve. The natural oxygen, bacteria, fungi, aquatic plants and animals in the river break the effluents and make the water drinkable when it joins the Ganga, through is for a very small stretch of the river which runs through the reserve with no human habitation on its bank.
The forest of the eastern side of the reserve namely Ramgar, Kansrao and Motichur ranges are replenished by these 2 rivers along with their important tributaries such as Bindal, Rispana, Reh and Jakhan. Grasslands or chaurs are found along the flat alluvial banks of raus all over the reserve. Chaurs are open spaces in the forests, which have a rih growth of various medium sized and tall grasses, a favorite snack amongst deer and elephants. The chaurs are a good place to spot Cheetal, nelgai and elephants and sometimes the tiger too. There are more than 50 species of grassesand sedges found in the reserve including bhabar grass, Kans , Narkul, Khus etc.
About Expanding Frontiers
Rajaji Tiger Reserve is spread over an area of 1,075.17sq km which includes a core area of 819.54sq km and a buffer zone of 255.63sq km. The buffer zone of the reserve act as a cushion for the reserve keeping the growing pressure of urbanization of bay. The Rajaji tiger reserve, the 48th tiger reserve of the country, has grown from a sanctuary created in 1948 to a national park in 1983 with an area of 820.4219 sq km, and finally to a tiger reserve in 2015 that covers an area of 1075.17sq km. Apart from the national park rishikesh which now the core area of the reserve, an additional area of 255.63sq kmof the Bijni Beat of the reserved forest block, Shyampur range of the Haridwar Forest Division, Laldhang and Kotdwar Ranges of the Lansdowne Forest Division have been added to its buffer zone. This has enabled good connectivity between the Rajaji, and Corbett Tiger Reserve, which was being advocated for a long time by conservationists. In the southern periphery of the reserve is the Jhilmill Jheel conservation reserve, the only swamp deer habitat in Uttarakhand. Had it been added in the tiger reserve it could have got a greater level of protection as animals use this area for crossing over to the river Ganga.
About Connecting Corridors
Kansaro-Barkot is a 2.5km long and 2km wide corridor connecting the Kansora range of the reserve that run across the Song River to the Dehradun Forest Division. Apart from illicit felling and grazing, this area also faces a threat from heavy road traffic on the busy Dehradun-Haridwar(NH 58) which runs for about 6km crucial elephant corridor.
The Teenpani Corridor connents motichur range of the reserve to Rishikesh range of Dehradun Forest Division. However, there is heavy vehicular traffic on NH 72 and the settlements of Jogiwala, Chidderwala and Golatappar are causing immense anthropogenic pressure in this area. An overpass is under construction on the highway that passes through these settlements which might reduce vehicular traffic on the road.
A Conservation Chronicle
About Conservation Chronicle
Rajaji has a conservation history over 67 years starting from the time when it was a sanctuary of 246.53 sq km to a rajaji tiger reserve of 1075.17 sq km. The forest of Rajaji were initially used as a game sanctuary and its timber sold to generate revenue. It has come a long way since then to get the king of jungle – the tiger, back into the reserve where it was once found in abundance. The state has two tiger reserves, Corbett and Rajaji which are adjacent to each other. Corbett Tiger Reserve has the highest density of tigers in the world and the second highest number of tigers in the country. Rajaji is the part of the Shiwalik Elephant Reserve which is one the 11 elephant reserves designated in India and the only elephant reserve in state to be notified as early as 2002. Rajaji National Park was declared a tiger reserve on 18th April 2015. Both Rajaji and Corbett are part of the Rajaji-Corbett-Tiger Conservation Unit (RCTCU) along with some other reserve forest areas.
This unit covering approx 170-200 tigers apart from other animals such as Sambhar, Nilgai, Cheetal and wild boar. In the past, wildlife was free to move across this huge area but now towns like Haridwar, Kotdwar and Lal Kuan have fragmented the landscape hindering the movement of wildlife. It is important to maintain connectivity between the different forests in this landscape for genetic exchanges amongst wild animals which is crucial for their long term survival. Rajaji is also a part of the Tarai – Arc Landscape (TAL) which is an effort to establish the connectivity between the forests spanning from the Yamuna in the west to the river Bagmati in the east in Nepal and covers 13 protected areas, over an area of 49,500 sq km.