Reserving forests was one of the most important measures ever taken to conserve and protect the wildlife- the animals and their habitats. They are different from the protected forests in the sense that hunting, grazing and other activities are banned unless special permissions are taken from the Indian Government, and protected forests allow these activities to some extent to the tribes and locals who live in and around the forests and have been using the resources of the forest as means of livelihood. They mainly function as buffer zones between established national parks and migration zones.
With the growing population and need for resources, forest cover in the country has continuously been on the decline and reserving forests is a crucial step in the direction of preserving or even recovering the forests in the country. Protection of wildlife also has different levels. For example, Sariska National Park was declared a reserved forest in 1955, upgraded to a wildlife sanctuary in 1958, a Tiger Reserve in 1978 and then a National Park in 1992.
Let us have a look at some of the reserved forests of this country:
1. Kukrail Reserve Forest
Located in Uttar Pradesh, about 9km from Lucknow, Kukrail Reserve forest is where you’ll find crocodiles in abundance. Established in 1978, this place was funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the UP Forest Department and is also where endangered species of crocodiles are especially bred. This came up after a survey done by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources estimated that only 300 open river crocodiles were left in UP.
Also, if you’re looking to combine leisure with learning, this place is also a great picnic spot and sight-seeing spot where you can gain great knowledge about crocs!
2. Bhavnagar Amreli Forest
This forest is very much the pride of Gujarat and is a reserved forest which is home to the mighty Asiatic Lion. After the inclusion of the New Jesal Sacntuary, the area of the forest will go up to 1600 sq. km. Due to the overpopulation of the Asiatic Lion in the Gir National Park, the state govt suggested that they be moved to this reserve but the Supreme Court of India in April 2013 ruled that these lions instead be moved to the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary. Bhavnagar Amreli Forest still continues to be home for a large number of Asiatic Lions.
3. Nanmangalam Reserved Forest
Located about 24km from the Chennai City Centre, Namnangalam is a massive forest sprawling across 2400 hectares, of which 320 are reserved. It is a bird watchers paradise and houses about 85 species of birds including the red-wattled lapwing, the white-breasted kingfisher, Indian eagle owl and several others. It is also said to be home to rare territorial orchids.
4. Vandalur Reserve Forest
The reserve forest is located about 30km from Chennai, and boasts of housing the Arignar Anna Zoological Garden, which at 602 hectares is the largest zoological garden in the Indian Subcontinent. The zoo also houses a rescue and rehabilitation centre for abandoned and confiscated animals. Costing a staggering Rs. 75 million back in 1979, the zoo opened to the general public in 1985 and was the first zoo of India. Reason enough to visit?
5. Banni Grasslands Reserve
Banni Grassland Reserve forms an arid grassland ecosystem on the outer southern edge of the desert of the marshy salt flats of the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Spread across 3847 sq. km, they are popular for their rich wildlife and biodiversity. Also considered to be one of the few remaining hotspots of Cheetahs, the Wildlife Institute of India has recognised the grasslands as a potential site for the reintroduction of the species.
The grasslands are also home to water birds in massive numbers, being an important place for foraging, resting, roosting and staging grounds for millions of waders, waterfowl and cranes. Flamingos, common cranes, and painted storks can be spotted in the hundreds in the seasonal wetlands of the region.
6. Tikarpada Reserve Forest
Home to several fauna such as the tiger, leopard, deer, sambar, gaur and many more, Tikarapada is one of the most beautiful reserved forests of the country. It is situated 200km from Bhubaneshwar, and also has the Gharial Crocodile Sanctuary within its bounds. The forest also offers a lot for trekkers, with the Satkasia Gorge nearby. Activities such as river rafting and fish angling are available as well. As you move deeper into the forest, you can even spot birds such as the Crested Serpent Eagle and hornbills.
The forest is truly splendid and makes for a great getaway for anyone with a taste for adventure.
7. Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve
Spread over 180 sq. km of land at a monumental height of 2400-4300 metres above sea level, Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve is home to some of the most exquisite wildlife species. The absolutely lush green cover of this place is mostly covered by conifers which make it quite stunning. The Musk Deer which can be seen here is also an example of the kind of exotic species you can find here, which include leopards, black bears and brown bears, the red fox and others.
It houses plenty resident and migratory birds such as the Snow Cock, the Blue Rock Pigeon, Jungle Crow, Kashmir Roller etc. The biosphere reserve makes for a truly wonderful nature viewing experience.
8. Amarambalam Reserve Forest
Amarambalam Reserve Forest is one of the largest reserve forests of Kerala. Situated in the Wetern Ghats, it covers a height ranging from 40m-2500m above sea level and sees heavy rainfall making for a thick forest cover. The forest sees a variety of birds, some endemic to the region, and some endangered and near threatened species as well. It also is home to the Lion Tailed Macaque and the Nilgiri Tahr.
The forest continues from the Silent Valley National Park and forms a part of the Niligiri Biosphere Reserve.
9. Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
It is an International Biosphere Reserve in the Western Ghats in the Nilgiri Hill Ranges and was included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2012. It includes the Mudumalai, Mukurthi, Wayanad and Bandipur national parks. It has wide variety of fauna, including the tiger, Asian elephant, Lion-tailed macaque and Nilgiri tahr.
It also has over 3300 species of flaura, with 132 of them endemic to the region, which include Adenoon, Calacanthus, Baeolepis,Frerea, Jarodina, Wagatea, Poeciloneuron, etc. It also houses 175 types of orchids of which 8 are endemic.
10. Jim Corbett National Park
This is India’s oldest national park situated in Nainital district of Uttarakhand. It was set up in 1936 for the protection of the endangered Bengal Tiger and is named after Jim Corbett who played a major role in setting up the park. It is spread over a total distance of 520.8 sq. km and sees a massive amount of visitors every year.
It has 586 species of fauna including a huge array of birds such as the crested serpent eagle, blossom-headed parakeet and the red junglefowl. It has tigers in abundance and also is home to leopards, barking deer, sambar deer, hog deer and chital, Sloth and Himalayan black bears and numerous other mammals. It is a very important natural reserve and only selected parts of it are open to the public.
In conclusion, the forest reserves make up for a huge part of India’s flora and fauna and act as important buffer zones between national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. They provide a subsistence to local communities and habitat for various species of animals. They are indispensable to the growth and preservation of India’s countryside.
Nainital can be easily reached from New Delhi by taking a bus or a taxi.