Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ranthambhore National Park ............ Part 2

In 2003 and 2004, disaster struck Ranthambhore's tigers once again. A census conducted by the Rajasthan State Empowered committee showed that there were only 26 tigers in entire reserve and all of them were within the national park. The other areas of the reserve were totally devoid of tigers. In 2005, the Rajasthan and the Indian central government set up high powered committees to look into the state of Ranthambhore and to suggest measures to improve the situation.There have been no reports of tiger poaching from around Ranthambore from the beginning of 2005 and a large number of tiger cubs were born between the summer of 2005 and the summer of 2006. A very detailed census that was carried out by the Wildlife Institute of India using camera traps between 2006 and 2007 showed that there were 31 tigers in Ranthambhore national park.
The areas surrounding the Tiger reserve have been totally deforested and as a result, the Ranthambore tiger reserve is now an "ecological island surrounded by farmlands and overgrazed pastures." It is is home to over 40 species of mammals, 320 species of birds, over 40 species of reptiles and over 300 species of plants. the Indian or the Bengal Tiger is the flagship species of Rantambhore and right now it is the only place in Rajasthan where tigers exist.

The terrain of Ranthambhore tiger reserve is mostly rugged and hilly and is intimately related to the Great boundary fault. The hills to the northwest of fault-line are the Aravalis and typically have ridges on one side and gentle slope on the other. The hills south west of Great boundary fault are the Vindhyas. The sand stone beds of these hills are flat-topped and form extensive table lands known as "Dangs". These dangs rise abruptly from flat ground and have sandstone ridges running continuously along their edges.

The Ranthambhore tiger reserve, with its sub-tropical dry climate, has three very well defined seasons - summers, winters and monsoons. October and March are the time when the weather changes from monsoons to winters and from winters to summers, respectively. Summers start during the end of March and last through the months of April, May and June. During this season the days are very hot and dry. During May and June the maximum day temperature crosses 40 degrees Centigrade and the minimum night temperature still hovers around 30 degrees Centigrade. The monsoons or the rainy season lasts from July to September. The winter season lasts from November to February.

Besides tigers, the other wild cats found in Ranthambhore tiger reserve are Leopards, Caracals, Jungle cats, Rusty Spotted cats. Fishing Cats and Leopard cats have also been reported but their sightings are yet to be verified. The ungulates include Sambhar, Spotted deer (Chital), Blue bull (Nilgai), Chinkara (Indian gazelle) and Wild boar. The other large mammals that can be seen in Ranthambore tiger reserve are the Sloth bear, Indian fox, Jackal, the extremely occasional Wolf, very few Indian wild dogs (Dhole), Small Indian Civet, Palm civet, Common Indian and Ruddy mongoose and Striped Hyena.

Common species of Ranthambhore and their preferred habitat
1. Tiger - Dense cover in the valleys and riverside areas
2. Leopard - Dense cover in the higher slopes and forest edge
3. Jungle Cat - Scrub and grasslands and undergrowth in valleys
4. Caracal - Streams, Open scrub and grasslands
5. Rusty Spotted cat - Thorny trees, scrubland and cultivated areas
6. Sambar deer - Thick cover in valleys, gentle slopes and dangs
7. Chital or Spotted deer - Open spaces and riverine areas in forests
8. Nilgai or Antelope - Open dry scrub land, grasslands and forest edge
9. Chinkara or gazelle - Open scrub and grasslands in hilly areas
10. Wild Boar - Open spaces and riverine areas in forests
11. Sloth Bear - Dense riverine areas, khos and rocky areas
12. Jackal - Open scrub and forest edges
13. Hyena - Dense cover along streams, khos & riverine areas
14. Indian Palm Civet - Large trees and undergrowth in moist areas
15. Common Mongoose - Dense cover in moist areas and forest edges
16. Ruddy Mongoose - Dense cover in moist areas and forest edges
17. Indian Porcupine - Dense cover in riverine areas and rocky hillsides
18. Indian Hare - Open scrub and grasslands
19. Indian Flying Fox - Large trees in moist, low lying areas
20. Marsh Crocodile - Wetlands
21. Bengal Monitor Lizard - Dense undergrowth, large trees and rocky areas
22. Indian Rock Python - Dense undergrowth in valleys and rocky areas
23. Saw-scaled Viper - Open scrub and sandy soil
24. Indian Rat Snake - Dense undergrowth and cultivated areas
25. Indian Bull Frog - Wetlands
26. Skittering Frog - Wetlands
27. Common Indian Toad - Cool, moist and dark areas. 

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