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Wild Life with Jim Corbett National Park

Corbett Park Jim Corbett National Park—named after the hunter turned conservationist Jim Corbett who played a key role in its establishment—is the oldest national park in India. The park was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park. Situated in Nainital district of Uttarakhand, the park acts as a protected area for the critically 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.

Sun IconGeography

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 360 m (1,181 ft) and 1,040 m (3,412 ft). 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 1,318.54 square kilometres (509.09 sq mi) including 520 square kilometres (200 sq mi) of core area and 797.72 square kilometres (308.00 sq mi) of buffer area. The core area forms the Jim Corbett National Park while the buffer contains reserve forests (496.54 square kilometres (191.72 sq mi)) as well as the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary (301.18 square kilometres (116.29 sq mi)).
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


Sun IconFlora
Fauna
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.



Sun IconFauna
Fauna
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.

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.

Leopard 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, Black buck 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 are seen in large 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.


Sun IconEcotourism

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.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.

Tiwari & 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."

Sun IconHistory
Corbett
Some areas of the park were formerly part of the princely state of Tehri Garhwal. 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 323.75 km2 (125.00 sq mi) 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.

Over time the area in the reserve was increased—797.72 km2 (308.00 sq mi) were added in 1991 as a buffer for the Corbett Tiger Reserve. The 1991 additions included the entire Kalagarh forest division, assimilating the 301.18 km2 (116.29 sq mi) 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.

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