National Parks Of India – 2024 Stats, Facts & Conservation

National Parks Of India - 2024 Stats, Facts & Conservation

In India, various categories of protected areas exist, with the “National Parks” standing as the highest protected category. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a protected area is a clearly defined geographical space recognized, dedicated, and managed through legal or other effective means. Its primary purpose is to achieve long-term conservation of nature along with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.

The state government has the authority to officially designate an area, whether within a protected area or not, as a National Park based on its ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphological, or zoological significance. This designation is crucial for the preservation and promotion of the wildlife inhabiting it and its surrounding environment. Within these National Parks, all human activities are prohibited unless explicitly authorized by the Chief Wildlife Warden of the state, in accordance with the guidelines outlined in CHAPTER IV of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Presently, India boasts 106 established National Parks, collectively covering an area of 44,402.95 square kilometers.

The prescribed procedure must be adhered to when establishing an area as a national park. Here are the key legal provisions regarding national parks:

  1. The state government issues a specific notification, officially declaring an area as a national park following due processes like inquiry and hearings regarding rights and concessions conducted by the collector.
  2. Alterations in the boundaries of a national park are prohibited unless endorsed through a resolution by the state legislature.
  3. All forms of destruction, exploitation, or removal of forest products, wildlife, skins, trophies, or their habitats within a national park are prohibited.
  4. Cattle grazing is not allowed within the confines of a national park.
  5. The Chief Wildlife Warden may authorize the capture of animals for scientific research purposes through a special order.
  6. Activities like blasting, quarrying, or land-breaking are strictly prohibited within the precincts of national parks.
  7. Entry of firearms and explosives is restricted within national park boundaries.
  8. The Chief Wildlife Warden has the authority, through a special order, to restrict human entry into specific areas of the national park, such as the core area.
  9. Forest villages located within a national park must be relocated to other areas. Consequently, permanent residents are not permitted within the confines of a national park.

 

Highest and Lowest Number of National Parks

The distribution of national parks varies across states in India. Madhya Pradesh holds the highest number with eleven national parks, whereas Bihar, Goa, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Nagaland each have only one national park within their territories.

 

The largest and smallest National Parks

The largest national park in India, Hemis National Park, is located in the Trans-Himalayan state of Ladakh, covering approximately 3350 sq. km. Following closely is the Desert National Park, spanning 3162 sq. km. On the other end of the spectrum, the smallest national park is Fossil National Park, situated in Madhya Pradesh, with an area of only 0.27 sq. km.

 

First National Park of India

Corbett National Park, India’s first national park, was initially named Hailey National Park in 1936. Covering an area of 323.75 sq km initially, it later expanded by an additional 197 sq km, known as Ramganga National Park. In 1957, the entire area was merged and rebranded as Corbett National Park in honor of Jim Corbett, the esteemed conservationist and former hunter. This park’s significance lies in its historical importance, breathtaking landscapes, and diverse wildlife, attracting tourists seeking a remarkable destination. Additionally, Corbett National Park was one of the nine tiger reserves established during the inception of the Project Tiger initiative.

 

National Parks known for The Conservation of Flagship and Keystone species

  1. National Parks with Maximum Tiger Population:

The tiger holds a significant role as a flagship species in the conservation of various habitat types across India. In an effort to safeguard them in their natural habitats, the Project Tiger was initiated in 1973. Nine national parks, providing the utmost protection to tigers, were granted the prestigious status of tiger reserves. Over time, the count of tiger reserves escalated to 55, with the majority being national parks. National parks situated in states renowned for their tiger habitats, particularly Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, and Maharashtra, showcase commendable tiger density and population.

Corbett National Park hosts the highest number of tigers, recording 260 in the recent census. Trailing behind is Bandipur National Park in Karnataka, boasting 150 tigers, with Nagarhole securing the third position with 141 tigers. Bandhavgarh National Park and Dudhwa jointly hold the fourth position, each with 135 tigers within their boundaries. These tiger reserves owe their success to strict protection measures, minimal disturbance, and effective management. All these national parks hold the esteemed status of Tiger Reserves, entailing increased financial and management support from the central government. This support plays a vital role in bolstering tiger conservation efforts and subsequently enhancing the tiger population.

 

Bengal tiger walking in Kanha National Park

 

  1. National Parks known for Rhino Populations:

The Indian one-horned rhinoceros serves as a flagship species for the grasslands stretching from Terai to the Brahmaputra floodplain. Unfortunately, their habitat faces severe threats from anthropogenic pressures, and the species itself is endangered due to illegal trade. Dudhwa National Park in the Terai region was established to safeguard the grasslands of this landscape, along with protecting tigers and rhinos.

Although rhinos were eradicated from this park in the past, the government has made efforts to reintroduce them in a suitable and predator-protected area. The rhino enclosure was established in the national park, and in 1984, five rhinos from Assam were introduced. The population is recovering, with the latest survey reporting 46 rhinos roaming the grasslands of Dudhwa.

While Dudhwa has seen success with the reintroduced population, the most renowned national park for rhino conservation in India is Kaziranga National Park. Located in the Assam state of North-east India, Kaziranga is considered one of the best places to see rhinos in the country. A recent survey estimates a population of over 2600 rhinos in this park. However, the park faces significant threats, including annual flooding in the Brahmaputra floodplain and rhino poaching for their horns. The forest department works day and night to secure the future of not only rhino but also other inhabitants of this park.

 

Indian rhino found in Kaziranga & Dudhwa National Parks

 

  1. National Parks with High Elephant Population:

Another flagship species crucial for the conservation of various landscapes is the Indian Elephant, also known as the Asiatic Elephant. They are widely distributed across India, with isolated populations in the north, north-east, south, and central regions. The central and northern Indian populations are highly fragmented, leading to increased conflict cases due to habitat fragmentation.

In contrast, the south Indian population is better connected through corridors and a network of protected areas, particularly the Nilgiri Hills. This region includes national parks such as Bandipur NP, Nagarhole NP, and Mudumalai NP. The North Indian population roams within the Terai landscape, moving in and out from Nepal and India. The resident population within India’s northern limits is found in Corbett NP and Rajaji NP. These parks are well-connected with corridors, providing safe passages for these gentle giants. However, occasional conflicts and road accidents arise due to linear intrusions.

In the northeastern region of India, elephant populations are distributed across various protected areas in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and West Bengal. National parks like Kaziranga and Manas in Assam are considered the best places to observe them. Recently, a herd of elephants entered Bandhavgarh NP in central India, where they have settled and are often sighted by tourists.

 

Elephants in Corbett Tiger reserve in India

 

  1. National Parks with High Snow Leopard Population:

The snow leopard is a flagship species for the conservation of the high-altitude trans-Himalayan landscape in India. Various protected areas have been established in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Ladakh to safeguard these elusive cats. Hemis National Park in Ladakh, renowned for its high snow leopard population, holds around 200 of these majestic creatures, as per the latest estimates.

Named after a monastery in the Union Territory of Ladakh, the national park is interspersed with several villages. These villages offer homestays for visitors who come to witness the snow leopard and other high-altitude fauna. This approach helps garner support for the conservation of snow leopards. The forest department and other conservation organizations work tirelessly day and night to protect these magnificent creatures. They also ensure timely compensation to villagers for any livestock losses caused by snow leopards.

 

Snow leopard found in ladakh region in India

 

  1. National Park for the Conservation of Manipur Brow – Antlered Deer:

The Manipur Brow-antlered deer, also known as Sangai, is a highly endangered deer species found exclusively in Loktak Lake, the largest lake in North-east India. Keibul-Lamjao National Park, situated in the southern part of Loktak Lake, spans 40 sq.km and is home to the Sangai. This unique deer subspecies, also referred to as Thamin Deer (Cervus eldi eldi), holds the esteemed title of State Animal in Manipur. The park was established with the primary objective of conserving the Sangai population.

Adapted to its floating habitat, the Sangai has distinct hooves that enable it to move effortlessly across the submerged phumdis, which make up a significant portion of the lake’s surface. These phumdis, consisting of decaying vegetation and reaching thicknesses of up to 1.6 meters, serve as crucial support for the Sangai and other large mammals in the park.

 

  1. National Parks for the Conservation of Hangul Deer:

The Kashmiri Hangul, a distinctive subspecies of red deer native to the Kashmir region, is under severe threat due to habitat loss, poaching, and various challenges. Urgent conservation measures are required to safeguard this iconic species, protect local ecosystems, and preserve its cultural significance. To protect their last surviving population Dachigham National Park was created in Kashmir. Established in 1910 as a hunting reserve by the Maharaja of Kashmir, Dachigam National Park, located approximately 20 km from Srinagar and spanning 141 sq.km, plays a crucial role. The park, named Dachigam meaning “ten villages,” holds immense ecological, aesthetic, and socio-economic value. It hosts the last surviving population of the Critically Endangered Kashmir Red Deer, or Hangul, once abundant in the Kashmir mountains. However, habitat degradation, poaching, and increased biological pressures have led to a significant decline in the Hangul population over the years.

 

  1. National Parks for the Conservation of Birds:

Though there are several national parks created to protect the avian fauna of the region, here we are giving the details of two iconic national parks known for their bird assemblages and diversity.

Keoladeo Ghana National Park:

Keoladeo National Park, also known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is renowned globally for its remarkable diversity of avian species. Acknowledged as one of the most bird-rich regions worldwide, Keoladeo boasts an impressive variety exceeding 450 bird species. Serving as a pinnacle of in-depth avian research, it represents a extensively studied bird habitat in India. Positioned within Biome 12, encompassing bird species from the Indo-Gangetic Plains, and featuring species from Biome 11 (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone), Keoladeo shelters a varied avian population. It stands out as a significant breeding ground for various bird species, including the Painted Stork, Asian Openbill, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black-headed Ibis, Oriental Darter, along with numerous egrets, herons, ibises, and storks. Of the 26 bird species breeding in heronries across India, Keoladeo supports breeding for 15 of these species. The park’s habitat sustains substantial populations of ducks, coots, and rails, surpassing their 1% threshold numbers. Covering an approximately 11-kilometer paved path, Keoladeo provides an ideal setting for exploration. For most tourists and bird photographers, opting for a cycle rickshaw ride proves to be the most convenient and rewarding means of traversing this park.

 

Painted Stork Bird in India

 

Sultanpur National Park:

The Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary and National Park, situated in the Gurugram district of Haryana, cover a total area of 143 hectares, with Sultanpur Lake forming the core area. This shallow lake is sustained by overflow from neighboring canals, agricultural fields, and replenished by saline groundwater. The park features seasonal aquatic vegetation and open grasslands, adorned with artificial islands planted with Babul trees.

A comprehensive study conducted by Harvey in 2003 documented over 320 bird species in the park. Notably, the sanctuary plays a crucial role as a wintering ground for waterfowl, attracting a significant population of migratory birds. In years with ample rainfall, the sanctuary has supported over 20,000 individuals of these migratory species, emphasizing its significance as a vital habitat for avian biodiversity. The wetland also hosts a noteworthy waterbird breeding colony, including species like the Painted Stork, Oriental Darter, Black-headed Ibis, and an annual nesting pair of Sarus Cranes.

 

  1. National Parks Known for the Conservation of Flora:

Valley of Flowers National Park:

Established in 1982, Valley of Flowers National Park safeguards the floral richness of the Garhwal Himalayas. Discovered by botanist and adventurer Frank Smythe in 1931 and later in 1937, the valley gained international recognition. To preserve its flora and fauna, the state government declared it a national park when ecologists and botanists worldwide took notice. Situated in the remote corner of the Garhwal Himalayas, the park is traversed by the Pushpavati River, joining the Bhyundar River and draining into the Alaknanda, a Ganga tributary. With over 520 high-altitude vascular plant species, including 31 rare and endangered, and 13 medicinal plants, the park features three vegetation zones: temperate, sub-alpine, and alpine, each with unique flora.

The park’s diverse flowers, such as poppies, orchids, marigolds, daisies, and more, attract nature lovers globally. It’s also a habitat for high-altitude wildlife, including snow leopards, common leopards, Himalayan black bears, and various bird species. Open to visitors, the park permits only trekking, offering a moderate to tough experience due to high altitude and steep hikes.

 

Valley of flowers india

 

Shiroi National Park:

Situated in the Shiroi hills of Manipur’s Ukhrul district, Shiroi National Park was declared in 1982 to safeguard the exclusive Shirui lily (Lilium mackliniae). This lily, the state flower of Manipur, holds a high conservation priority. According to local lore, a British Botanist discovered it in the 1940s while searching for an RAF plane that had crash-landed on the hill slope. The park not only hosts the Shirui lily but also shelters diverse wildlife, including Hoolock gibbons, stump-tailed macaques, slow lorises, clouded leopards, common leopards, Indian wild dogs, and occasional tigers and gaurs. Prominent bird species include Mrs. Hume’s pheasant, rufous-necked hornbills, and western tragopans.Despite extensive deforestation due to Jhum cultivation, subtropical broadleaf forests remain on hill slopes, while grasses and shrubs cover the hilltop. Accessible only by trekking, a hike to the hill’s summit, especially during the lily season, takes approximately four hours.

In conclusion, national parks stand as invaluable treasures, serving as sanctuaries for biodiversity, conservation, and environmental education. These protected areas, carefully designated and managed, play a crucial role in preserving the diverse flora and fauna, maintaining ecological balance, and safeguarding habitats for future generations. National parks not only contribute to the well-being of countless species but also offer humans a chance to reconnect with nature, fostering a deep appreciation for the beauty and complexity of our planet. As vital reservoirs of ecological resilience, these parks underscore the urgent need for global efforts to protect, conserve, and sustain our natural heritage. In embracing the ethos of responsible stewardship, we can ensure the continued existence of these havens for both wildlife and humanity alike.

 

The Full List of National Parks in India:

Name of State No. of PAs Name of Protected Area Year of Creation Area
(in km2)
Andhra Pradesh 1 Papikonda 2008 1012.8588
2 Rajiv Gandhi (Rameswaram) 2005 2.3952
3 Sri Venkateswara 1989 353.62
Arunachal Pradesh 1 Mouling 1986 483.00
2 Namdapha 1983 1807.82
Assam 1 Dibru-Saikhowa 1999 340.00
2 Dihing Patkai 2021 234.26
3 Kaziranga 1974 889.51
4 Manas 1990 500.00
5 Nameri 1998 200.00
6 Rajiv Gandhi (Orang) 1999 78.81
7 Raimona 2021 422.00
Bihar 1 Valmiki 1989 335.65
Chhattisgarh              1 Guru Ghasidas (Sanjay) 1981 1440.71
2 Indravati (Kutru) 1982 1258.37
3 Kanger Valley 1982 200.00
Goa 1 Mollem 1992 107.00
Gujarat 1 Blackbuck (Velavadar) 1976 34.53
2 Gir 1975 258.71
3 Marine (Gulf of Kachchh) 1982 162.89
4 Vansda 1979 23.99
Haryana 1 Kalesar 2003 46.82
2 Sultanpur 1989 1.43
Himachal Pradesh 1 Great Himalayan 1984 754.40
2 Inderkilla 2010 94.00
3 Khirganga 2010 705.00
4 Pin Valley 1987 675.00
5 Col. Sherjung Simbalbara 2010 27.88
Jharkhand 1 Betla 1986 226.33
Karnataka 1 Anshi 1987 417.34
2 Bandipur 1974 872.24
3 Bannerghatta 1974 260.51
4 Kudremukh 1987 600.57
5 Nagarahole (Rajiv Gandhi) 1988 643.39
Kerala 1 Anamudi Shola 2003 7.50
2 Eravikulam 1978 97.00
3 Mathikettan Shola 2003 12.82
4 Pambadum Shola 2003 1.32
5 Periyar 1982 350.00
6 Silent Valley 1984 89.52
Madhya Pradesh 1 Bandhavgarh 1968 448.842
2 Dinosaur Fossils 2011 0.897
3 Fossil 1983 0.27
4 Pench 1975 292.857
5 Kanha 1955 941.793
6 Kuno 2018 748.761
7 Madhav 1959 375.23
8 Panna 1981 542.66
9 Sanjay 1981 464.643
10 Satpura 1981 528.729
11 Van Vihar 1979 4.452
Maharashtra 1 Chandoli 2004 317.67
2 Gugamal 1975 361.28
3 Nawegaon 1975 133.88
4 Pench (Jawaharlal Nehru) 1975 257.26
5 Sanjay Gandhi (Borivilli) 1983 86.96
6 Tadoba 1955 116.55
Manipur 1 Keibul-Lamjao 1977 40.00
2 Shiroi 1982 100.00
Meghalaya 1 Balphakram 1986 220.00
2 Nokrek Ridge 1997 47.48
Mizoram 1 Murlen 1991 100.00
2 Phawngpui (Blue Mountain) 1992 50.00
Nagaland 1 Intanki 1993 202.02
Odisha 1 Bhitarkanika 1988 145.00
2 Simlipal 1980 845.70
Rajasthan 1 Desert 1992 3162.00
2 Keoladeo Ghana 1981 28.73
3 Mukundra Hills 2006 200.54
4 Ranthambhore 1980 282.00
5 Sariska 1992 273.80
Sikkim 1 Khangchendzonga 1977 1784.00
Tamil Nadu 1 Guindy 1976 2.7057
2 Gulf of Mannar Marine 1980 526.02
3 Indira Gandhi (Annamalai) 1989 117.10
4 Mudumalai 1990 103.23
5 Mukurthi 1990 78.46
Telangana 1 Kasu Brahmananda Reddy 1994 1.425
2 Mahaveer Harina Vanasthali 1994 14.59
3 Mrugavani 1994 3.60
Tripura 1 Clouded Leopard 2007 5.08
2 Bison (Rajbari) 2007 31.63
Uttar Pradesh 1 Dudhwa 1977 490.00
Uttarakhand 1 Corbett 1936 520.82
2 Gangotri 1989 2390.02
3 Govind 1990 472.08
4 Nanda Devi 1982 624.60
5 Rajaji 1983 820.00
6 Valley of Flowers 1982 87.50
West Bengal 1 Buxa 1992 117.10
2 Gorumara 1992 79.45
3 Jaldapara 2014 216.34
4 Neora Valley 1986 159.8917
5 Singalila 1986 78.60
6 Sunderban 1984 1330.10
Andaman & Nicobar Islands 1 Campbell Bay 1992 426.23
2 Galathea Bay 1992 110.00
3 Mahatama Gandhi Marine (Wandoor) 1983 281.50
4 Mount Harriett 1987 46.62
5 Rani Jhansi Marine 1996 320.06
6 Saddle Peak 1987 32.54
Jammu & Kashmir 1 City Forest (Salim Ali) 1992 9.07
2 Dachigam 1981 141.00
3 Kazinag 2000 90.88
4 Kishtwar High Altitute 1981 2191.50
Ladakh 1 Hemis 1981 3350.00

 

Source: National Wildlife Database, Wildlife Institute of India

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