Jim Corbett National Park

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            Jim Corbett, long before most others, expressed his concern over the fate of the tiger and urged measures to preserve it and the other wildlife that meant so much to him. Today, with our heightened awareness of endangered species, his attitude may seem unremarkable, but he was born in 1875. Between  1907 and 1941 the legendry Corbett hunted down man-eaters blamed for  over 1500 human kills. 

He acknowledged the tiger as " a large hearted gentleman with boundless courage " who, almost always, only turned to a diet of human flesh when wounded .Most of the Corbett stories are based on the tigers he had hunted in the regions of  Kumaon and Garhwal.


            One of the finest habitats of the tiger in India, the Corbett National Park nestles in the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttar Pradesh ( now Uttarachal ) . With its varied topography , diverse flora and fauna and the natural splendor of its landscapes the Park is precious  heritage.  Established in 1936 , this reserve was known as the Hailey National Park . It was later renamed after Jim Corbett the famous hunter, author and pioneer conservationist who helped set up this wildlife sanctuary.

Extending over a tract of 520 sq km, the Park is a large valley with forest ridges running through it. The magnificent Ramganga River winds through its entire length in a south-south westerly direction and the numerous forest streams and rivulets that flow into it carve up the area into little ridges and ravines. Dense stands of sal mixed deciduous forests are found throughout the Park while the chaurs or the grasslands in the valley - about one tenths of the core area, offers nature lovers a better view of wildlife.


            With the elevations in the Park ranging from 400m to 1210 m there is a rich diversity in habitat. Animals of the Himalayas and those of peninsular India can both be seen here and over 50 mammal and 25 reptile species have been recoded at Corbett. Among the predators are the tiger, leopard, diverse species of lesser  cats and dhole - the wild dog. There are antelopes (nilgai and ghoral) varieties of deer (hog deer, sambhar, chital , spotted deer and barking deer .

The primates (rhesus and langur) and other animals like jackals, foxes , civets , wild boar , sloth bear, black bear and range of reptiles including the cobra, python and two species of crocodiles. The rare fish eating , long snouted gharial and more robust mugger can be seen basking along the sand banks and pools of Ramganga. The river which is also noted for its sporting fish, the mighty mahaseer and the malee is popular with anglers.


            Corbett is the home of 580 species of birds including water fowl , 17 types of woodpecker, raptors like Pallas fishing eagle, harriers and kites, peafowl , khaliz pheasant , the rare chir phesant , red jungle fowl , minivets, shrikes , cuckos , drongos and barbets . A fine reservoir on the river formed with the building of a dam at Kalagarh now attracts diverse species of water birds - both local and migratory

This dam when made destroyed a vast area of the park including the reservoir area. The local people tell tales of the times before the dam was made the area now where the water of Ramganga flows , there was such a thick and dense forest that even during the daytime , the local people were afraid to venture out into the thick forest. Development has its flaws , the Kalagarh dams constructions has helped in irrigation and electricity and overall development of that particular are but at the cost of nature.


            With the Project tiger launched in 1973 for total environmental protection of this endangered species, Corbett had seen an increase in the tiger population till early nineties . Thereafter due to demand of tiger bones for Chinese medicines , there was an upsurge of poaching activities  and the forest mafia was at its peak. The governments after the death of  former prime minister Mr. Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 , did not take active interest in wildlife conservation as there are no votes connected to it, hence there was a regular decline of tiger population.  

This nocturnal predator is not often spotted during the day though its pug marks are commonly seen along the road sides and forest trails . With a bit of luck visitors do occasionally catch a glimpse of this majestic animal as they drive through the park to the Dhikala complex.


            Dhikala at the heart of the core area is picturesquely located at the edge of grassy plateau perched high above the Ramganga reservoir and set into bend in the river. The grasslands of the Dhikala Chaur disappear into the dense sal forests of the foothills. This is the favourite viewing area. The chaur and surrounding forests support the highest density of tigers in the country - about one every 5 sq km. Splendid herds of chital , hog deer and elephants are also to be seen here. 

There are viewing towers as well as elephant rides for visitors, morning and evening. This is perhaps the best way to see wildlife for it is possible to go deep into the Park on elephants to get close to the animals in an unobtrusive manner and to get a clear view of them




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