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Jim Corbett National Park
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe oldest National Park in the Indian subcontinent, the Jim Corbett National Park is situated in the hilly terrains of Nainital in the state of Uttarakhand in India. Originally established as Hailey National Park in 1936, it was renamed after the British hunter turned-conservationist, Jim Corbett, who played a key role in its establishment. A haven for nature and wildlife lovers, this park stretches in the Himalayan foothills over an area of around 1318.54 sq km. Its elevation varies from 396 meters to 1,219 meters and its core area of 797 sq km forms the tiger reserve. Only specified areas are open to visitors while the rest of this park is off limits since increased tourist influx has threatened the ecological balance of this area. One of the first Indian parks to fall under the tiger protection initiative, the Jim Corbett National Park attracts over 70,000 visitors every season.
HistoryMost of this park used to be apart of the provinces under the rule of the Prince of Tehri Garhwal and much of the forest lands in these territories were cleared in order to decrease the vulnerability of this area to the Rohilla invaders. When the British helped the Prince of Tehri oust the Gurkhas from his territory he gave control of certain parts of his provinces to the British East India Company in exchange for their military favors.
The land was formerly cultivated by a tribe called the Boskas who were subsequently evicted by the British when they gained control of this territory around the 1860s. Serious efforts to conserve the forest and wildlife of these parts can be seen from the 19th century when an initiative was taken by Major Ramsay in preserving the ecological balance of this place.
In 1868, the British government took its first step by outlawing cultivation of forest lands and operation of cattle farms in this land and subsequently, in 1879 this park gained the status of a Reserve Forest where one could chop trees only with prior permission.
In 1900, a number of British men including E.A. Smythies and E.R. Stevans, among others, suggested the idea of converting this area into a national park. The possibility of creating a games reserve in this forested area was considered by the government in 1907. However it was not until the 1930s, when the process of demarcation was initiated under the aegis of Jim Corbett, when the Hailey National Park was created comprising an area over 323.75 sq km in 1936.
Restricted felling of trees was permitted but hunting was strictly prohibited and rules were passed for protection of reptiles, mammals and birds of this area.
In 1954 this park was renamed as Ramganga National Park only to be changed to Corbett National Park in 1956.
During the times of the World War II , this reserve went through excessive poaching and tree cutting nefarious activities. With time the surrounding areas were incorporated with this park and in 1991 a buffering area of 797.72 sq km was added to the Corbett National Park. This buffering area includes the Sonanadi Sanctuary and the entire Kalagarh forests.
In 1974, this site was chosen as the initial location for launching the conservation project called Project Tiger. This park has been declared a protected area by World Wildlife Fund and comes under the Terai Arc Landscape Programme which aims at protecting the tigers, the One-horned Rhinoceros and the Indian Elephants by rebuilding the forest corridor and linking it with reserved forests of Nepal so that the wildlife can freely migrate between India and Nepal with ease.
FaunaThe Corbett National Park is home to more than 586 different species of migratory and residential birds, about 33 species of reptiles, 7 species of fish and amphibians and about 36 kinds of dragonflies.
The Crested Serpent Eagle, Red Jungle Fowl and the Blossom-Headed Parakeet are some of the rare birds founds in this park. The Bengal Tigers which numbers more than 160 cannot, however, be spotted easily since they camouflage themselves easily within this vast reserve.
Dense forests with close proximity of the Ramganga River and easy availability of preys have made this national park an ideal habitat for Bengal Tigers. In times of food scarcity these tigers feed on big animals like bulls and even elephants.
Incidents of tigers preying on the cattle of the neighboring village have also been noted. Leopards inhabit the hilly areas of this reserve and at times they are known to venture into the lower parts in search of prey. Several species of cats like the Fishing Cat, the Jungle Cat and the Leopard Cat can be spotted in this reserve.
Other mammals which inhabit this reserve are the Sambar Deer, Hog Deer, Barking Deer, Himalayan Black Bear, Otters, Himalayan Goral, Langurs, Pangolins, Indian Gray Mongoose, Yellow-Throated Martens and others.
One can see herds of Indian elephants crossing the grasslands in this wild animal park in groups of hundreds.
The species of Indian Pythons found here is a deadly one which is, alone, capable of killing an adult Chital Deer.
Captive breeding programmes in the Ramganga River has saved the Gharials and Crocodiles of this region from extinction.
What to expectOne of the most beautiful wildlife sanctuaries of the country, the Corbett National Park comprises of a flat valley interspersed with hills, ridges and rolling grasslands. The temperature in winter is nice and sunny and varies from 5°C to 30°C whereas in the summer, the temperature can get as high as 40° in the peak heat in this locality. This park boasts of as many as 488 different species of flora.
The Sal forests have a high density of trees while the Senegalia catechu locally known as Khair has an extremely low density of trees in this natural reserve.
SightseeingOne can explore this beautiful landscape by going for a jeep safari which can be rented from Ramnagar. Travelers are not allowed to trek within the premises of the Corbett National Park and one can only trek on a prescribed route around the park only in the company of a licensed guide.
The Kalagarh Dam in the south-west of the park is an excellent location for bird watching and one gets to see lots of migratory birds in the winter.
Located on the borders of the Patli Dun Valley, the Dhikuli is the most popular destination within the park. Equipped with a 19th century guest house, this beautiful location is bordered by the Kanda Ridge and offers a spectacular view of the valley.
Additional InformationMid November to mid June is the ideal time to visit the Corbett National Park because of the large number of tourists visiting this park, it has been conveniently divided into five tourism zones: Dikhala, Jhirna, Sonanadi, Bijrani and Domunda.
Dikhala is the most popular zone and has a large number of rest houses while the rest of the zones are also equipped with tenting facilities. Visitors to this park are required to obtain a permit from the park administration in Ramnagar.
How to reachThe nearest railway station from Corbett National Park is located about 12 km from the town of Ramnagar. From Delhi one can take an overnight train to Ramnagar. One could also reach Kathgodam, Kashipur or Haldwani by train and from there go to Ramnagar by car. On reaching Ramnagar one has to hire a car to reach the park. Ramnagar is also connected to cities like Lucknow, Kanpur, Ranikhet, Haridwar and Delhi by roadways.
Similar LandmarksWildlife enthusiasts would also like to visit other Himalayan National Parks like the high altitude Singalila National Park in Darjeeling district which boasts of the beautiful trek route to Sandakphu. One could also explore the eastern Himalayas by visiting the Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh which is famous for its biodiversity.
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Author: SubhasishMitra. Last updated: Sep 02, 2014