Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest national park in India. The park named for the hunter and conservationist Jim Corbett who played a key role in its establishment was established in 1921 as Hailey National Park. Situated in Nainital district of Uttarakhand the park acts as a protected area for the endangered Bengal tiger of India, the secure survival of which is the main objective of Project Tiger, an Indian wildlife protection initiative.
The park has sub-Himalayan belt geographical and ecological characteristics. An ecotourism destination, it contains 488 different species of plants and a diverse variety of fauna. The increase in tourist activities, among other problems, continues to present a serious challenge to the park's ecological balance.
Corbett has been a haunt for tourists and wildlife lovers for a long time. Tourism activity is only allowed in selected areas of Corbett Tiger Reserve so that people get an opportunity to see its splendid landscape and the diverse wildlife. In recent years the number of people coming here has increased dramatically. Presently, every season more than 70,000 visitors come to the park from India and other countries.
The Jim Corbett National Park is a heaven for the adventure seekers and wildlife adventure lovers alike. Corbett National Park is India's first national park which comprises 520.8 km2. area of hills, riverine belts, marshy depressions, grass lands and large lake. The elevation ranges from to . Winter nights in Corbett national park are cold but the days are bright and sunny. It rains from July to September.
Dense moist deciduous forest mainly consists of sal, haldu, pipal, rohini and mango trees, and these trees cover almost 73 per cent of the park. The 10 per cent of the area consists of grasslands.It houses around 110 tree species, 50 species of mammals, 580 bird species and 25 reptile species. The endangered Bengal tiger of India resides here. The sanctuary was the first to come under Project Tiger initiative.
Some areas of the park were formerly part of the princely state of Tehri Garhwal. The forests were cleared to make the area less vulnerable to Rohilla invaders. The Raja of Tehri formally ceded a part of his princely state to the East India Company in return for their assistance in ousting the Gurkhas from his domain. The Boksas a tribe from the Terai settled on the land and began growing crops, but in the early 1860s they were evicted with the advent of British rule. The British forest department established control over the land and prohibited cultivation and the operation of cattle stations. The British administration considered the possibility of creating a game reserve there in 1907 and established a reserve area known as Hailey National Park covering in 1936. The preserve was renamed in 1954 55 as Ramganga National Park and was again renamed in 1955 56 as Corbett National Park. The new name honours the well-known author and wildlife conservationist Jim Corbett, who played a key role in creating the reserve by using his influence to persuade the provincial government to establish it.
The reserve does not allow hunting, but does permit timber cutting for domestic purposes. Soon after the establishment of the reserve, rules prohibiting killing and capturing of mammals, reptiles and birds within its boundaries were passed. The park fared well during the 1930s under an elected administration. But during the Second World War, it suffered from excessive poaching and timber cutting. Over time the area in the reserve was increased were added in 1991 as a buffer for the Corbett Tiger Reserve. The 1991 additions included the entire Kalagarh forest division, assimilating the area of Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary as a part of the Kalagarh division. It was chosen in 1974 as the location for launching Project Tiger, an ambitious and well known wildlife conservation project. The reserve is administered from its headquarters in the district of Nainital.
Corbett National Park is one of the thirteen protected areas covered by World Wildlife Fund under their Terai Arc Landscape Programme. The programme aims to protect three of the five terrestrial flagship species, the tiger, the Asian elephant and the Great One-horned Rhinoceros, by restoring corridors of forest to link 13 protected areas of Nepal and India to enable wildlife migration.
The park is located between 29 25' to 29 39'N latitude and 78 44' to 79 07'E longitude. The average altitude of the region ranges between and . It has numerous ravines, ridges, minor streams and small plateaus with varying aspects and degrees of slopes. The park encompasses the Patli Dun valley formed by the Ramganga river. It protects parts of the Upper Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests and Himalayan subtropical pine forests ecoregions. It has a humid subtropical and highland climate.
The present area of the Reserve is including of core area and of buffer area. The core area forms the Jim Corbett National Park while the buffer contains reserve forests () as well as the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary ().
The reserve, located partly along a valley between the Lesser Himalaya in the north and the Siwaliks in the south, has a sub-Himalayan belt structure. The upper tertiary rocks are exposed towards the base of the Shiwalik range and hard sandstone units form broad ridges. Characteristic longitudinal valleys, geographically termed Doons, or Duns can be seen formed along the narrow tectonic zones between lineaments.
The weather in the park is temperate compared to most other protected areas of India. The temperature may vary from to during the winter and some mornings are foggy. Summer temperatures normally do not rise above . Rainfall ranges from light during the dry season to heavy during the monsoons.
A total of 488 different species of plants have been recorded in the park. Tree density inside the reserve is higher in the areas of Sal forests and lowest in the Anogeissus-Acacia catechu forests. Total tree basal cover is greater in Sal dominated areas of woody vegetation. Healthy regeneration in sapling and seedling layers is occurring in the Mallotus philippensis, Jamun and Diospyros tomentosa communities, but in the Sal forests the regeneration of sapling and seedling is poor.
Little green bee-eaters]] at Jim Corbett National Park
Over 585 species of resident and migratory birds have been categorized, including the crested serpent eagle, blossom-headed parakeet and the red junglefowl ancestor of all domestic fowl. 33 species of reptiles, seven species of amphibians, seven species of fish and 37 species of dragonflies have also been recorded.
A bull elephant in Corbett National Park
Bengal tigers, although plentiful, are not easily spotted due to the abundance of camouflage in the reserve. Thick jungle, the Ramganga river, and plentiful prey make this reserve an ideal habitat for tigers who are opportunistic feeders and prey upon a range of animals. The tigers in the park have been known to kill much larger animals such as buffalo and even elephant for food. The tigers prey upon the larger animals in rare cases of food shortage. There have been incidents of tigers attacking domestic animals in times when there is a shortage of prey.
Spotted Deer at Jim Corbett. Leopards are found in hilly areas but may also venture into the low land jungles. Smaller felines in the park include the jungle cat, fishing cat and leopard cat. Other mammals include four kinds of deer (barking, sambar, hog and chital), Sloth and Himalayan Black bears, Indian Grey Mongoose, otters, yellow-throated martens, ghoral (goat-antelopes), Indian pangolins, and langur and rhesus monkeys. Owls and Nightjars can be heard during the night.
In the summer, elephants can be seen in herds of several hundred. The Indian python found in the reserve is a dangerous species, capable of killing a chital deer. Local crocodiles were saved from extinction by captive breeding programs that subsequently released crocodiles into the Ramganga river.
Though the main focus is protection of wildlife, the reserve management has also encouraged ecotourism. In 1993, a training course covering natural history, visitor management and park interpretation was introduced to train nature guides. A second course followed in 1995 which recruited more guides for the same purpose. This allowed the staff of the reserve, previously preoccupied with guiding the visitors, to carry out management activities uninterrupted. Additionally, the Indian government has organized workshops on ecotourism in Corbett National Park and Garhwal region to ensure that the local citizens profit from tourism while the park remains protected.
Early-morning encounter with a Sambar deer in Jim Corbett National Park, on a guided elephant tour from the Dhikala tourist lodge.
patil & Joshi (1997) consider summer (April June) to be the best season for Indian tourists to visit the park while recommending the winter months (November January) for foreign tourists. According to Riley & Riley (2005): "Best chances of seeing a tiger to come late in the dry season- April to mid June-and go out with mahouts and elephants for several days."
As early as 1991, the Corbett National Park played host to 3237 tourist vehicles carrying 45,215 visitors during the main tourist seasons between 15 November and 15 June. This heavy influx of tourists has led to visible stress signs on the natural ecosystem. Excessive trampling of soil due to tourist pressure has led to reduction in plant species and has also resulted in reduced soil moisture. The tourists have increasingly used fuel wood for cooking. This is a cause of concern as this fuel wood is obtained from the nearby forests, resulting in greater pressure on the forest ecosystem of the park. Additionally, tourists have also caused problems by making noise, littering and causing disturbances in general.
In 2007, young naturalist and photographer - Kahini Ghosh Mehta - took up the challenge of promoting healthy tourism in Corbett National Park and made the first comprehensive travel guide on Corbett. The film titled - Wild Saga of Corbett - showcases how tourists can contribute in their own small way in conservation efforts. The film is loaded with all information needed by a tourist before planning a visit to the park along with tips from senior park officials, nature guides and naturalists. Tourists can get a DVD copy of this film from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
Dhikala: This well-huu known destination in Corbett is situated at the fringes of Patli Dun valley. There is a rest house here which was built hundred of years ago. Kanda ridge forms the backdrop, and from Dhikala, one can enjoy the spectacular natural beauty of the valley.
Tourists are not allowed to have a walk inside the park, but they are allowed to go for trekking around the park, only with a guide. This place becomes very cold in the winter season, so tourists should make proper arrangements for themselves, if they are travelling in the winter season.
Kalagarh Dam: This dam is located in the south west direction of the Jim Corbett wildlife sanctuary. This is one of the best places for the bird watching tour. Lots of migratory waterfowl comes here in the winters.
Corbett National Park is situated in Ramnagar in the district of Nainital, Uttarakhand.
Area: 521 km2
Route: The town of Ramnagar is the headquarters of Corbett Tiger Reserve. There are overnight trains available from Delhi to Ramnagar. Also, there are trains from Varanasi via Lucknow to Ramnagar. Reaching Ramnagar, one can hire a taxi to reach the park and Dhikala.
Ramnagar is also well connected by road with Lucknow, Nainital, Ranikhet, Haridwar, Dehradun and New Delhi. One can also drive from Delhi (295 km) via Gajraula, Moradabad, Kashipur to reach Ramnagar. A direct train to Ramnagar runs from New Delhi. Alternatively, one can come up to Haldwani/Kashipur/Kathgodam and come to Ramnagar by road.
Best Time to Visit: Mid-November to Mid-June.
An elephant herd at Jim Corbett National Park A major incident in the history of the reserve followed the construction of a dam at the Kalagarh river and the submerging of of prime low lying riverine area. The consequences ranged from local extinction of swamp deer to a massive reduction in hog deer population. The reservoir formed due to the submerging of land has also led to an increase in aquatic fauna and has additionally served as a habitat for winter migrants.
Two villages situated on the southern boundary were shifted to the Firozpur Manpur area situated on Ramnagar Kashipur highway during 1990 93; the vacated areas were designated as buffer zones. The families in these villages were mostly dependent on forest products. With the passage of time, these areas began to show signs of ecological recovery. Vines, herbs, grasses and small trees began to appear, followed by herbaceous flora, eventually leading to natural forest type. It was observed that grass began to grow on the vacated agricultural fields and the adjoining forest areas started recuperating. By 1999–2002 several plant species emerged in these buffer zones. The newly arisen lush green fields attracted grass eating animals, mainly deer and elephants, who slowly migrated towards these areas and even preferred to stay there throughout the monsoon.
There were 109 cases of poaching recorded in 1988–89. This figure dropped to 12 reported cases in 1997–98 .
In 1985 David Hunt, a British ornithologist and birdwatching tour guide, was killed by a tiger in the park.
The habitat of the reserve faces threats from invasive species such as the exotic weeds Lantana, Parthenium and Cassia. Natural resources like trees and grasses are exploited by the local population while encroachment of at least of by 74 families has been recorded.
The villages surrounding the park are at least 15–20 years old and no new villages have come up in the recent past. The increasing population growth rate and the density of population within to from the park present a challenge to the management of the reserve. Incidents of killing cattle by tigers and leopards have led to acts of retaliation by the local population in some cases. The Indian government has approved the construction of a stone masonry wall on the southern boundary of the reserve where it comes in direct contact with agricultural fields.
In April, 2008, the National Conservation Tiger Authority (NCTA) expressed serious concern that protection systems have weakened, and poachers have infiltrated into this park. Monitoring of wild animals in the prescribed format has not been followed despite advisories and observations made during field visits. Also the monthly monitoring report of field evidence relating to tigers has not been received since 2006. NTCA said that in the "absence of ongoing monitoring protocol in a standardised manner, it would be impossible to forecast and keep track of untoward happenings in the area targeted by poachers." A cement road has been built through the park against a Supreme Court order. The road has become a thoroughfare between Kalagarh and Ramnagar. Constantly increasing vehicle traffic on this road is affecting the wildlife of crucial ranges like Jhirna, Kotirau and Dhara. Additionally, the Kalagarh irrigation colony that takes up about of the park is yet to be vacated despite a 2007 Supreme Court order.
- Indian wildlife portal on Wikipedia
- Indomalaya ecozone
- Critically endangered species
- Leopard of Rudraprayag
- Champawat Tiger
- Rajaji National Park
- Man-Eaters of Kumaon and other literary references to Nainital
- Pant, P.C. (1976). Plants of Corbett National Park, Uttar Pradesh. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 73:287-295.
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