Rajasthan is a haven for a wide spectrum of wildlife. The topography of Rajasthan ranges from the barren desert, scrub-thorn arid forests, rocks and ravines to wetlands and lush, green forests. And each of these areas houses a large variety of animal and bird life. Some of them are rare while some are endangered.
The state is the home of tigers, black bucks, chinkara, the rare desert fox, the endangered caracal, the great Indian bustard, gavial, monitor lizard, wild boars, and porcupine. Migratory birds like the common crane, ducks, coots, pelicans and the rare Siberian cranes, imperial sand grouse, falcons and buzzards flocks to this state during the winter months. Typical areas representing each of the ecosystems have been earmarked as special areas wildlife. Rajasthan boasts of two National Parks, over a dozen Sanctuaries and two Closed Areas. Most of these areas are open to visitors round the year but are closed briefly during the monsoon.
Sariska National Park
Sariska became a sanctuary in the year 1958, came under the project Tiger in 1979 and became a national park in 1982. It is located at Kankwari fort, near Alwar, on the Delhi Jaipur Highway. The terrain is predominantly hilly, as it lies in the Aravalli range. It has a total area of 788 sq kilometres, with a core area of approx. 47sq kilometres. The carnivores of the area are panther, jungle cat, jackal and hyena. Three caracals were also reported during the last census in 1985. Other animals include the sambhar, chital, wild boar, hare, nilgai and umpteen porcupines. The birdlife comprises of the peafowl, gray partridge, quail, sand grouse, tree pie, white-breasted kingfisher, golden woodpecker and great Indian horned owl. Visit: November & March is the best period to visit.
Near the township of Sawai Madhopur, Ranthambore National Park is an outstanding example of Project Tiger’s efforts at conservation in the country. The forests around the Ranthambore Fort were once, the private hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur. The desire to preserve them was responsible for their conservation, and subsequent rescue by Project Tiger. The Park sprawls over an estimated area of 400 sq. kms. Steep crags embrace a network of lakes and rivers, and atop one of these hills, is the impressive Ranthambore Fort, built in the 10th century. The terrain fluctuates open bushland and impregnable forest, mostly of dry deciduous type. The entry point to the Park goes straight to the foot of the fort and the forest rest house, Jogi Mahal. The latter boasts of the second-largest banyan tree in India. The Padam Talab, the Raj Bagh Talab and the Milak Talab are some of the lakes in the area that attract the wildlife population. The entire forest is peppered with the battlements and spillovers of the Ranthambore Fort. Ranthambhor is approachable both by rail (132 km) and road (180 km) from Jaipur. It is situated 14 km from Sawai Madhopur railway station on Delhi- Bombay trunk route. You can stay at the The Sawai Madhopur Lodge or in RTDC accommodation.
Keoladeo Ghana National Park
One of the most spectacular bird sanctuaries in India, nesting indigenous water- birds as well as migratory water birds and waterside birds. More than 300 species of birds are found in this small park of 29 sq. km. of which 11 sq. km. are marshes and the rest scrubland and grassland. Sambar, chital, nilgai and boar also inhabit it. The name Keoladeo is derived from an ancient Hindu temple, devoted to Lord Shiva, which stands at the centre of the park. ‘Ghana’ means dense, referring to the thick forest, which used to cover the area. In 1760 an earthen dam (Ajan Dam) was constructed to save Bharatpur town from the annual vagary of flooding every monsoon. The depression created by extraction of soil for the dam was cleared and this became the Keoladeo Lake. At the beginning of this century, this lake was developed, and was divided into several portions. A system of small dams, dykes, sluice gates, etc., was created to control water level in different sections. This became the hunting preserve of the Bharatpur royalty, and one of the best duck – shooting wetlands in the world. Hunting was prohibited by mid-60s. The area was declared a national park on 10 March 1982, and accepted as a World Heritage Site in December 1985.
Over 350 species of birds find a refuge in the 29 sq km of shallow lakes and woodland, which makes up the park. A third of them are migrants, many of whom spend their winters in Bharatpur, before returning to their breeding grounds, as far away as Siberia and Central Asia. Migratory birds at Keoladeo include, as large a bird as Dalmatian pelican, which is slightly less than two meters, and as small a bird as Siberian dusky leaf warbler, which is the size of a finger. Other migrants include several species of cranes, pelicans, geese, ducks, eagles, hawks, shanks, stints, wagtails, warblers, wheatears, flycatchers, buntings, larks and pipits, etc. But of all the migrants, the most sought after is the Siberian Crane or the great white crane, which migrates to this site every year, covering a distance of more than half the globe. These birds, numbering only a few hundred, are on the verge of extinction. It is birds from the western race of the species that visit Keoladeo, migrating from the Ob river basin region, in the Aral Mountains, in Siberia via Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are only two wintering places, left for this extremely rare species. One is in Feredunkenar in Iran, and the other is Keoladeo Ghana. The journey to Bharatpur takes them 6,400 kms from their breeding grounds, in Siberia. They arrive in December and stay till early March. Unlike Indian cranes, the Siberian crane is entirely vegetarian. It feeds on underground aquatic roots and tubers in loose flocks of five or six.
Desert National Park
The vast tracts of desert sands around Jaisalmer, with their wood fossils, have become the Desert National Park. The desert has a fragile eco-system that has a unique variety of wildlife species. These include the somewhat ungainly bird the Great Indian Bustard, which, because of this effort, has made a comeback in recent decades, though it is still on the endangered list.
The Desert National Park is an excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert and its diverse fauna. Sand dunes form around 20% of the Park. The major land form consists of craggy rocks and compact salt lake bottoms, intermedial areas and fixed dunes, which are quite suitable for the chinkara to move at high speed. The blackbuck is another common antelope of this region. Its other notable inhabitants are the desert fox, Bengal fox, and wolf and desert cat. Sudashri forest post is the ideal place for observing the wildlife and for watching and photographing the activities of the animals from behind cover. Birdlife in this sandy habitat is vivid and spectacular. Birds such as the sand grouse, partridges, bee-eaters, larks and shrikes are commonly seen. Demoiselle crane and houbara arrive in the winter. The birds of prey seen here are tawny and steppe eagles, long legged and honey buzzards, falcons and kestrels. But the most outstanding of the avifauna is the great Indian bustard. This park is also very rich in reptiles. Spiny tail lizard, monitor lizard, saw sealed viper, Russel’s viper, Sind krait, toad agama and sandfish are found in large numbers.
Akal Wood Fossils Park, 18 kms from Jaisalmer, contains relics of about 180 million years of age. Seashells and massive fossilised tree trunks in this park record the geological history of the desert.
It is a vast saline tract spread over 820 Hectares at a distance of 12 km from Sujangarh and 170 km from Bikaner (on Bikaner-Jaipur Road) where some 400 black bucks (the rare and vanishing variety of antelopes) can be seen with a background of mirage. Originally a game preserve of Maharaja of Bikaner, it was declared “protected area” under the Rajasthan Wild Animals and Birds Protection Act in 1962. It is interesting to see how the Bucks command their ‘harems’ and in what sportsman like manner they win or lose some of the inmates and the young ones are reared up.
The breathtaking beauty of the park is spread across an area of about 60 sq. kms. The sanctuary can be divided into two parts namely Van Vihar & Ramsagar. Van Vihar, located on Vindhyan plateau, supports a rather open stunted growth of Dhok and Khair trees. Ramsagar part of the sanctuary has the picturesque Ramsagar Lake.
The sanctuary is inhibited by species like Sambhar, Chital, Blue Bull, Wild Boar, Sloth Bear, Hyena and Leopard. Ramsagar Lake is populated with fresh water crocodiles and a variety of fishes and snakes. White-Breasted Water Hen, Moor hen, Jacanas, Stilt, River Tern, Ringed Plover, Sand Piper and Herons (gray, and purple) are also quite common here. In addition to this, countless migratory ducks and geese also visit the lake.
Previously the hunting ground of the Kota maharajas, this sanctuary was established in 1955 and covers an area of 266 sq km. This hilly sanctuary with its thick forests is worth a visit. The animals here include wolf, sloth bear, chinkara and leopard. The best time to visit is between February and May.
Established in 1957, this sanctuary is located beside the man-made lake of the same name. Covering a total area of 160 sq km, it harbours sloth bear, leopard, chital, chinkara, wild boar and a number of birds. Some crocodiles and fish can also be spotted here. Best time to visit is between November and January.
The highest point of Aravallis, the Guru Shikhar, lies in this 289 sq km sanctuary. Established in 1960, this provides shelter to the common langaur, wild boar, sambhar and leopard. The gray jungle fowl can also be spotted here. Besides, a number of flowering trees enhance the beauty of this place.
|Keoladeo Ghana||Bharatpur||Water Bird, Painted Storks, Open Bill Spoon, Bill Egrets.||October to January|
|Jaisamand||Udaipur||Peacock, Spotted Deer, Sambhar, Sloth Bear, Wild Boar, Gazelle, Panther, Antelope, Mongoose & Birds.||October to June|
|Sariska||Alwar||Tiger, Panther, Spotted Deer, Sambhar, Four-horned Antelope.||October to June|
|Ranthambhor National Park||Sawai Madhopur||Tiger, Panther, Bear, Wild Boar, Sambhar, Spotted Deer, Blue Bull.||November to May|
|Desert National Park||Jaisalmer-Barmer||Great Indian Bustard, Blackbuck, Chinkara.||All The Year|
|Van Vihar, Ramsagar||Dholpur||Spotted Deer, Tiger.||March to May|
|Van Vihar||Mount Abu||Cinkara, Porcupine||October to January|
|Van Vihar, Darrah||Kota||Tiger, Panther, Spotted Deer, Sambhar, Wild Boar, Blue Bulls, Antelopes.||March to June|
|Tal Chapar||Bikaner||Black Bucks, Antelopes.||December To February|