National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in West Bengal

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National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in West Bengal

This is the sixth topic under the West Bengal Geography Notes for WBCS Module. The links to the previous chapters are listed below:

  1. Introduction to West Bengal Geography
  2. Physiographic divisions of West Bengal
  3. Rivers of West Bengal
  4. Soil and Climate of West Bengal
  5. Mineral Resources of West Bengal

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National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in West Bengal Free PDF Download is provided at the end of this post.

National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in West Bengal

In this module, we shall learn about the National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in West Bengal. The topic will cover important National Parks like Buxa National Park, Gorumara National Park, Neora Valley National Park, Singalila National Park, Sunderban National Park, and Jaldapara National Park. Also the Natural Vegetation portion of West Bengal.

Name of National Parks, Year of Notification, and Total Area

S. No. Name of National Park Year of Notification Total Area(km²)
1 Buxa National Park 1992 117.10
2 Gorumara National Park 1992 79.45
3 Neora Valley National Park 1986 159.89
4 Singalila National Park 1986 78.60
5 Sunderban National Park 1984 1330.10
6 Jaldapara National Park 2014 216.51

Name of Sanctuary, Year of Notification, and Total Area

S.No. Name of  Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) State Established Year Area (In km²)
1 Ballavpur WLS West Bengal 1977 2.02
2 Bethuadahari WLS West Bengal 1980 0.67
3 Bibhuti Bhusan WLS West Bengal 1980 0.64
4 Buxa WLS West Bengal 1986 267.92
5 Chapramari WLS West Bengal 1976 9.6
6 Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary West Bengal 1982 0.07
7 Haliday Island WLS West Bengal 1976 5.95
8 Jorepokhri Salamander WLS West Bengal 1985 0.04
9 Lothian Island WLS West Bengal 1976 38
10 Mahananda WLS West Bengal 1976 158.04
11 Raiganj WLS West Bengal 1985 1.3
12 Ramnabagan WLS West Bengal 1981 0.14
13 Sajnakhali WLS West Bengal 1976 362.4
14 Senchal WLS West Bengal 1976 38.88
15 West Sunderban WLS West Bengal 2013 556.45

Sundarban National Park

Sundarbans has got the world’s largest coastal mangrove forest (an area of about 10,000 km2, with enormous beauty, shared between India (4,000 km2) and Bangladesh (6,000 km2).

The Sundarbans are a part of the world’s largest delta formed by the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna.

Area: In WB 4,260 km2.

Islands: The forest on the Indian side has 102 islands, out of which 54 are inhabited and the rest of the area is covered with the forest.

Established: On 4 May 1984, it was declared a national park.

District: South 24 Paraganas

Famous for: Mangrove forests, Sundari trees one of the largest reserves for the Royal Bengal tiger.

  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site inscribed in 1987.
  • It has been designated as a Ramsar site since 2019.
  • It is considered a World Network of Biosphere Reserve (Man and Biosphere Reserve) since 2001.

Flora-Fauna: Sea Anemones, Horseshoe Crabs, and small Octopuses.

Endangered species: River Terrapins, Olive Ridley Turtles, Gangetic Dolphins, Ground Turtles, and Hawk Bill Turtles.

Reptiles: Pythons, King cobras, Rattlesnakes, Chequered kill backs, monitor lizards, and estuarine crocodiles.

Animal species: Chital, Pangolin, Indian grey mongoose, Fishing cats, Leopard cats, Jungle Cats, and Flying Fox.

Interesting Facts about Sundarbans Forest
  • Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve is considered to be India’s Largest Fishery Board because of its brackish water fish production and marine fisheries.
  • Sundarban Jungle has been named after the large mangrove trees Sundari (Heritiera littoralis).
  • Sundarbans Tiger Reserve is estimated to have 400 majestic and fiery Royal Bengal Tigers.
  • Gosaba (13 ft from the sea level) is the biggest and last inhabited island on Sundarbans (Indian part).
  • Sundarbans was declared as a core area of Sundarbans Tiger Reserve in the year 1973, a National Park on 4th May 1989, and recently Sundarbans has been enlisted among the finalists in the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
  • The Mystery of the Black Jungle by Emilio Salgari, Sundarbane Arjan Sardar by Shib Sankar Mitra, and Padma Nadir Majhi, by Manik Bandopadhyay.
  • Also, the Booker Prize-winning novel, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie’s and The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh are set in the Sundarbans.

Jaldapara National Park

  • The Jaldapara National Park in the foothills of the Eastern Himalaya and on the bank of the Torsa River is one of the newly built national parks in India.
  • District: Alipurduar
  • Area: 217 km2
  • Established: Jaldapara has declared a sanctuary in 1941.
  • Animal species: Sambar Deer, Barking Deer, Spotted Deer, Hog Deer, Wild Boars, and Bisons.
  • Birds: Pied Hornbill, Bengal Florican, Crested Eagles, Pallas’s Fish Eagles, Finn’s Weavers, Peafowls, and Partridges.
  • Reptiles: Pythons, Monitor Lizards, Kraits, and Cobra.

Gorumara National Park

  • With the influence of the Jaldhaka River, Murti River, and Raidak River, the Gorumara National Park forms a major watershed between the Ganges and Brahmaputra River systems
  • District: Jalpaiguri
  • Area: 80 km2
  • Established: 1949 (‎WLS), 1994 (‎NP‎)
  • Endangered Species: The Indian Rhinoceros, Pygmy Hog, and Haspid Hare
  • Animal species: Gaurs, Asian Elephants, Sloth Bears, Chital, Sambar Deer, Barking Deer, Hog Deer, and Wild Boars.
  • Birds: Brahminy Duck and Indian Hornbill.
  • Reptiles: Pythons and the King Cobra.

Neora Valley National Park

  • Neora Valley National ParkUNESCO World Heritage Centre
  • District: Kalimpong
  • Area: 88 km2
  • Established: 1992 (‎WLS)
  • Endangered Species: Leopards, Red Pandas, and Musk Deer.
  • Animal species: Black Bear, Sloth Bear, Golden Cat, Leopard Cat, Goral, Barking Deer, Sambar, and Himalayan Flying Squirrel.
  • Birds: Rufus-throated Partridge, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Golden-throated Barbet, Brown Wood Owl, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Chestnut Headed Tesia, Babblers, Dark-breasted Rosefinch.
  • Reptiles: King Cobra, Green Pit Viper, and Lizards.

Singalila National Park

  • Singalila National Park is well known for the trekking route to Sandakphu- Phalut that runs through it.
  • District: Darjeeling
  • Area: 6 km2
  • Established: 1986
  • Vegetation: Thick bamboo, Oak, Magnolia, and Rhododendron forests, poisonous Himalayan Cobra Lilies.
  • Endangered Species: Red Panda, Himalayan Black Bear, and Leopards.
  • Animal species: Leopard Cat, Barking Deer, and Pangolin.
  • Birds: Scarlet Minivet, Kalij Pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, Rofus-vented Tit, and Golden-breasted Fulvetta.

Buxa Tiger Reserve

  • The Buxa Tiger Reserve lies close to the international border and shares a border with Bhutan.
  • Other attractions in Buxa Tiger Reserve are Buxa Fort and Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga Temple.
  • District: Alipurduar
  • Area: 117 km2
  • Established: 1983
  • Endangered Species: Tigers, Asian Elephants, Leopard Cats, Bengal Floricans, Regal Pythons, Hispid Hares, Hog Deer.
  • Animal species: Gaur, Wild Boar, Sambar, Civets, Chital, and Elephants.
  • Birds: Slender-billed Vultures, Great Hornbills, Wagtails, Common Teals, Black Stork, Large Whistling Teal, and Minivets.

Lothian Island Wildlife Sanctuary

  • District: South 24 Paraganas
  • Located in the Sundarban Wildlife Reserve, the Lothian Island Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 38 square kilometers
  • It is home to Estuarine Crocodiles, Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, Spotted Deer, Jungle Cats, and Rhesus Macaque.
  • The wildlife sanctuary is located at the confluence of the River Saptamukhi and the Bay of Bengal.

Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary

  • District: South 24 Paraganas
  • Spread over an area of 362 square kilometers in the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve, the Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary mainly comprises mangrove forests and houses a rich population of animals, birds, fish, and amphibians.
  • Some of the major wildlife attractions are Water Fowl, Heron, Pelican, Spotted deer, Phesus Macaques, Wild Boar, Monitor Lizard, Fishing Cat, Otter, Crocodile, and Batagur Terrapins.

Haliday Island Wildlife Sanctuary

  • District: South 24 Paraganas
  • It is one of the smallest wildlife sanctuaries in India that is located in the Deltaic region of West Bengal.
  • It mainly comprises Wild Boar, Barking Deer, Spotted Deer, and Monkeys.

Ramnabagan Wildlife Sanctuary

  • District: Burdwan
  • Home to Spotted Deer, Common Langurs, and Black Bucks, the Ramnabagan Wildlife Sanctuary in Burdwan district is fast emerging as one of the prominent weekend getaways for several wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Rasikbil Bird Sanctuary

  • District: Cooch Behar
  • A paradise for bird lovers, the Rasikbil Bird Sanctuary houses several species of birds including Cormorants, Storks, Ibis, Spoonbill, Kingfisher, Parrots, and many more.
  • Other attractions include a large aquarium, Deer Park, and Crocodile Rehabilitation Center.

Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary

  • One of the oldest wildlife sanctuaries in India is located in the Darjeeling district.
  • The Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 39 square kilometers and ranges from an elevation of 1,500 meters to 2,600 meters.
  • The sanctuary is home to many common animal species like Rhesus Monkey, Assam Macaque, Himalayan Flying Squirrel, Barking Deer, and Wild Boar.
  • As for endangered species found in the sanctuary, the prominent ones include the Leopard, Jungle cat, and Himalayan Black Bear.

Natural Vegetation of West Bengal

  • Climate is a major determinant of forest types and in a broad sense; rainfall is a major factor though temperature, soil, topography, etc., play a dominant role.
  • In West Bengal, the total forested area is somewhat above 12,000 sq. kilometers which, is a little less than 14 percent of the total area of the State.
  • Some of this forested area is intersected by broad rivers. So leaving the space occupied by rivers makes actual forest cover is only 11 percent.

Four types of forests exist in the State, these are:

Mountain temperate forest

  • These types of forests are mainly related to altitude and aspect and are concentrated in Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri
  • Here between 1000 to 1500 meters, subtropical forests are found, while temperate forests occur between 1500 to 3000 meters which contain some varieties of oaks and conifers.
  • Above 3000 meters, silver fir is very common.
  • Higher up are Alpine meadows, small bushes, and flowering plants.
  • Again, the humid montane region of the northern slope of the Darjeeling Himalaya is characterized by montane wet temperate forest and much other temperate florae.

Tropical mixed evergreen forests of the foothills

  • Tropical moist evergreen forests occur in the Tarai regions of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, and Koch Bihar.
  • Sal (Shorea robusta) is the most common species grown here through other types of trees such as Champa (Michelia champaea), Chilauni (Schima wallichii), Khair (Acacia catechu), Gamar (Gmelina arborea) are less frequently found.
  • Bamboo is also common

The deciduous forests of the plateau fringe

  • The dry deciduous forests of the plateau fringe mainly occur in Medinipur, Bankura, Puruliya, Barddhaman, and Birbhum districts.
  • This forest mainly bears Sal which is different from the Sal bearing forest of the northern region in size, undergrowth, and other aspects.
  • Here the dry Sal forest have been mostly kept as coppiced fuel jungle in which other fire-resistant varieties such as Palash (Butea forndosa), Mahua (Bassia latifolia), etc. are also grown
  • The tropical moist deciduous forest occurs in the western part of Medinipur, west of Subarnarekha River.

The tidal forests of Sundarbans

  • The tidal forests are localized in the Sundarbans.
  • Here the forests consist of the trees of evergreen species of shrubs and plains.
  • Among the trees grown here, “Sundri” (Heritiera minor) is very common. It grows- best on the drier lands near the streams where the salinity is moderate.
  • Golpata” prefers low salinity and grows best on ever moist mud-banks.
  • Other plants which are also found here are “gengwa” (Excecaria agollocha) “hital” (Phonix palmdosa), “baen” (Avicenuia Officinalis), ’’bhora” (Rhizophora mucronate), and Kaora (Soumeratia apatata).

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