Tiger Safari in India in 2024
About Tiger Safaris in India - National Parks & Wildlife
India is renowned for its incredible biodiversity, which thrives not only within its four biodiversity hotspots but also across its diverse landscapes. The country is segmented into 10 distinct biogeographic zones, further divided into 26 biogeographic provinces. Each zone and province delineate specific elements of flora and fauna. Among the various species that inhabit most of these zones, the tiger stands as a prominent example.
Tigers, known for their adaptability, can thrive in diverse climatic conditions. In India, they can be found across various terrains: from the lofty heights of the Himalayas, even above the snow line, to the arid forests of Ranthambore, the lush evergreen forests of the Western Ghats, and the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans. Their widespread presence is evident through the extensive network of tiger reserves across the country. Presently, India boasts a network of 54 tiger reserves, covering a significant portion of the country, except for the high-altitude Himalayas and the dry arid regions of northwestern India. Tigers are a vital aspect of India’s wildlife heritage, culture, and country is proud to be home to more than 75% of the world’s wild tiger population. Conserving tigers as top-predator is crucial for preserving biodiversity, a way of life, and a connection to nature.
The tiger holds significant religious and cultural associations within India. In Hinduism, the tiger is linked to Goddess Durga, symbolizing power and strength. Additionally, in the Sundarbans of both Bangladesh and India, the worship of Bonbibi involves riding tigers, believed to safeguard inhabitants from Dakkhinrai, a demon who commands tigers or manifests in their form to attack. Maharashtra and Goa revere the Big Cat (Tiger and Leopard) as Waghoba, believing in their protective role. Among the Mishmi Tribes in Arunachal Pradesh, tigers are regarded as akin to family, while various tribal communities across central India perceive them as deities. Santhals and Kisans in Odisha hold tigers in high regard, worshipping them as Bagheshwar, the forest’s king. The Garo tribe in Meghalaya believes tigers offer protection, while the Irula tribe in Tamil Nadu venerates them as guardians against malevolent spirits. These entrenched beliefs have contributed to the preservation of biodiversity-rich areas through the concept of sacred groves. Such beliefs have enabled tigers to coexist even in close proximity to dense human habitation and human-dominated landscapes, spanning from ancient to contemporary times.
India’s tiger safaris offer an exhilarating and awe-inspiring experience, granting a rare chance to observe the majestic royal Bengal tiger, an iconic and endangered species, in its natural surroundings. Boasting abundant biodiversity and a steadfast commitment to conservation, India stands out as a premier destination for wildlife enthusiasts and adventurous souls eager to encounter these magnificent creatures.
Top 5 Tiger Reserves in India with Highest tiger Population
Corbett Tiger Reserve, Uttarakhand, India
Corbett National Park, recognized also as Corbett Tiger Reserve, sits nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas within the picturesque Shivalik landscape. Established in 1935 as India’s oldest national park, it was initially named Hailey National Park after Sir Malcolm Hailey, then Governor of the United Province. The Park underwent several name changes, being renamed after the river Ramganga that traverses it in 1955 and later dedicated to the renowned conservationist Jim Corbett in 1956.
Jim Corbett, once a hunter, transitioned into a conservationist, actively addressing issues concerning the people and wildlife of the Kumaon region. He played a pivotal role in eliminating numerous man-eating tigers and leopards that had plagued the area. Corbett National Park gained the status of a tiger reserve through India’s Project Tiger initiative. The initiation of Project Tiger designated nine national parks, including Corbett, as Tiger Reserves. The inauguration ceremony, presided over by Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi, was held within Corbett National Park.
Spanning a total area of 1288.31 sq.km., Corbett Tiger Reserve comprises a core zone of 821 sq. km. and a buffer zone of 466.32 sq.km. This encompasses the entirety of the Kalagarh Forest Division, including the 301.18 sq.km. Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary and the 96.70 sq.km. Ramnagar Forest Division.
Known as “The land of Roar, Trumpet, and Song,” Corbett stands as a compelling destination for several reasons. Its landscape portrays a mesmerizing tapestry of diverse ecosystems, encompassing dense forests, grasslands, riverine belts, and marshy depressions. Nestled amid the Himalayan foothills and the scenic Shivalik range, this reserve shelters a rich variety of habitats, nurturing a diverse array of flora and fauna.
The Ramganga River courses through the reserve, sustaining lush vegetation and attracting myriad wildlife. Towering Sal trees dominate the forests, providing sanctuary to diverse flora and fauna, including the iconic Bengal tiger, elephants, leopards, and numerous bird species. Exhibiting incredible biodiversity, the reserve boasts various forest types, nurturing an extensive range of floral and faunal species. Its exceptional biodiversity includes endangered and rare species, encompassing up to 110 tree species, 51 shrub species, more than 33 bamboo and grass species, and a myriad of fauna.
Home to approximately 260 tigers, Corbett Tiger Reserve boasts the world’s highest tiger density, making it a vital sanctuary for this endangered species. The reserve’s stringent conservation measures and habitat preservation initiatives have fostered a thriving tiger population within its boundaries, contributing significantly to the preservation of India’s rich wildlife heritage.
Having the highest number of tiger and highest species count of birds, the Corbett tiger reserve attracts the wildlife enthusiasts from all over the world. The reserve has much to show the tourist.
Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka, India
Nestled within Karnataka, India, Bandipur Tiger Reserve serves as a haven for the magnificent Bengal tiger. Renowned for its thriving tiger population, this sprawling reserve spans an expanse of approximately 1456 square kilometers. Within these boundaries, Bandipur shelters a notable count of these majestic creatures, showcasing the remarkable success of conservation endeavors in the area. The tiger populace in Bandipur Tiger Reserve stands as a testament to the dedication and effectiveness of wildlife preservation initiatives. This sanctuary not only safeguards a substantial tiger population but also symbolizes hope for the continued conservation and protection of these endangered species in India. Renowned as one of Karnataka’s and the nation’s most famed national parks and tiger reserves, Bandipur is home to an incredibly diverse wildlife population.
Adjacent to Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu to the south, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala to the southwest, and Nagarhole Tiger Reserve to the northwest, together these units of protected areas for the largest contiguous tiger forest in India. Apart from the tiger the reserve also houses an array of species representing the biodiversity of southern India. As a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, the park’s terrain is characterized by undulating landscapes, hills, and watercourses, with the Kabini, Nugu, and Moyar rivers flowing through it. The park features three primary types of vegetation, including scrub, tropical dry deciduous forest, and tropical moist mixed deciduous forest, each fostering unique flora and fauna. Bandipur’s wildlife thrives under the vigilant protection of the Karnataka Forest Department, hosting a plethora of species such as elephants, deer, gaur, tigers, leopards, wild dogs, hyenas, sloth bears, jungle cats, and various reptiles. It serves as a crucial refuge for vultures in the southern Indian hills, relying on natural animal carcasses for sustenance. Additionally, Bandipur boasts a diverse avian population, which stands at around 300 species of resident as well as migratory species. This reserve stands as a sanctuary of rich biodiversity and a testament to successful conservation efforts in preserving India’s natural heritage.
Embarking on a tiger safari through Bandipur Tiger Reserve is a gateway to the south India’s wildlife treasures. Located in South India, this reserve holds a significant place in the country’s conservation efforts. Being a part of the largest contiguous tiger habitat, Bandipur plays a vital role in the conservation of not only tigers but other species of conservation importance too. The reserve is a pioneer of wildlife tourism in India and is known for its responsible tourism practices.
Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, Karnataka, India
Nagarhole National Park, a renowned tiger reserve in South India, stands as a pioneering wildlife tourism destination, deriving its name from the meandering Nagarahole River, meaning “Snake Stream” in Kannada, which flows intricately through the park before joining the Kabini River. Initially established as a Game Reserve in 1955, spanning 285 square kilometers, it encompassed the reserve forests of Arkeri, Hatgat, and Nalkeri in Kodagu. Over time, it expanded with reserved forests from the adjacent Mysore district, achieving National Park status in 1988 and covering 643.39 square kilometers. Situated in Karnataka’s Mysore and Kodagu districts, it shares borders with Kerala and is an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Alongside Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Mudumalai tiger reserve to the southeast, and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary to the southwest, it forms one of India’s largest protected forest tracts for tigers. The reserve comprises moist deciduous forests in its northern and western regions and dry deciduous forests in the southeastern part, fostering a diverse range of wildlife, including prominent carnivores like tigers, leopards, wild dogs, elephants, and Indian gaurs. It stands as a captivating sanctuary for nature enthusiasts and conservationists due to its rich biodiversity and varied landscapes.
Nestled within the Nilgiris of the Western Ghats, Nagarhole tiger reserve boasts exceptional biodiversity, especially in its avian species. It represents a hub for unique bird species, such as the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Indian Rufous Babbler, Malabar Trogon, and White-Bellied Treepie, showcasing the region’s high endemicity. With approximately 300 species of resident and migratory birds, the park serves as a paradise for birdwatchers, offering varied habitats from dense forests to open grasslands and serene water bodies, fostering an ideal environment for these feathered inhabitants.
For bird enthusiasts, Nagarhole provides a captivating experience, allowing observation of various avian species’ natural behaviors. The park’s lush landscapes resonate with melodious bird calls, enriching its ambiance. As visitors explore the park’s diverse zones, they encounter a fascinating array of birdlife, making Nagarhole an essential destination for ornithology enthusiasts.
Furthermore, Nagarhole Tiger Reserve plays a crucial role as a connecting habitat, facilitating the movement of tigers and elephants across various Western Ghats regions through the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, extending to the Eastern Ghats via the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. This unique positioning establishes Nagarhole National Park as an integral part of the Mysore Elephant Reserve.
During scorching summers, when water sources in the region dry up, the Kabini reservoir within the park becomes a lifeline, attracting elephants from neighboring protected areas. This migration results in a remarkable congregation of elephants, marking an awe-inspiring spectacle for wildlife enthusiasts and researchers. This congregation stands as the largest gathering of Asian Elephants globally, emphasizing the park’s ecological importance and its role in supporting diverse wildlife populations in the region. Such events underscore the critical need to conserve Nagarhole National Park and its surrounding areas, emphasizing the delicate balance of ecosystems and the significance of protected reserves in preserving our planet’s rich biodiversity.
Embarking on a tiger safari in Nagarhole Tiger Reserve offers an enthralling exploration of one of South India’s renowned wildlife havens. Nestled within the western ghats and deccan peninsula, this reserve is steeped in natural beauty and rich biodiversity. The reserve’s lush landscapes encompass diverse habitats, including dense forests, meandering rivers, and grassy plains, providing a haven for an array of wildlife. Tigers, leopards, wild dogs, elephants, and various deer species thrive within this verdant expanse. Moreover, Nagarhole is a birdwatcher’s paradise, boasting around 300 avian species, including both resident and migratory birds. What sets Nagarhole apart is its role as a connecting habitat, allowing the movement of tigers and elephants across the Western Ghats, further emphasizing its significance in wildlife conservation. Exploring Nagarhole on a tiger safari not only promises captivating wildlife encounters but also showcases the essence of India’s rich natural heritage.
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Uttar Pradesh, India
Established to safeguard the diminishing population of Swamp Deer, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve stands as a prominent representative of the Terai-arc landscape in India. Initially recognized as Dudhwa Wildlife Sanctuary, it encompassed 212 sq. km of Lakhimpur-Kheri forests. This area evolved into a National Park in 1977, expanding to a core zone of 490 sq. km and a buffer zone of 124 sq. km by 1987. Subsequently, Dudhwa became a part of Project Tiger with the incorporation of 201 sq. km of Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary. In the early 2000s, Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, spanning 400 sq. km, joined Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. Although Dudhwa and Kishanpur are not contiguous and are separated by the River Sharda, they share similar habitats, forming the reserve’s core.
Positioned within the Terai-Bhabar biogeographic subdivision of the Upper Gangetic Plains, Dudhwa NP was proposed as a Ramsar site due to the critical role played by its terai wetlands in conserving threatened ecological communities.
Dudhwa Tiger Reserve boasts an incredibly diverse fauna, with documented reports of 31 species of large mammals, including Tigers and five species of deer like Swamp Deer, Sambar, Chital, Hog Deer, and Barking Deer. The terai grasslands within house endangered species like Swamp Deer, Hispid Hare, and Indian One-horned Rhinoceros. The reserve is also home to Asian Elephants, Sloth Bears, Ratels, Large Indian Civets, Golden Jackals, Fishing Cats, Jungle Cats, Leopards, Crocodiles, Common Otters, and Bengal Monitor Lizards. Asian Elephants often traverse from Nepal to the reserve.
Rhinos were introduced into the reserve in 1984, with a stock population of 10 rhinos from Pobitora, followed by an additional four rhinos from Nepal in 1985. The current rhino population in the grasslands of Dudhwa stands at 46, following successful reintroductions.
The avian diversity in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve is rich, with a recorded count of 330 bird species. Of these, 112 are resident breeding birds, including critically endangered species like the Bengal Florican and vulnerable species like the Swamp Francolin. An additional 31 species are residents, although their breeding within Dudhwa remains unconfirmed. The reserve also hosts at least 90 species of winter migrants, primarily waterfowl, alongside several leaf warbler species.
Embarking on a tiger safari in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve offers an immersive journey through the Terai landscape, showcasing its diverse flora and fauna. This reserve, initially established to protect the diminishing Swamp Deer population, has evolved into a sanctuary of incredible biodiversity. Spanning across various zones, including Dudhwa National Park and Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary, it’s a treasure trove for wildlife enthusiasts. The landscape is adorned with wetlands, forests, grasslands, and rivers, creating a rich habitat for numerous species. Amidst this lush terrain, tigers roam alongside rhinoceros, elephants, deer species, sloth bears, and an array of avian life. Dudhwa’s expansive grasslands harbor a significant population of Swamp Deer, Hispid Hare, and the reintroduced rhinoceros, contributing to its distinct charm. The reserve’s significance extends beyond its wildlife; it stands as a testament to successful conservation efforts and offers an enchanting adventure into India’s natural heritage.
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, situated in central India, holds a historical significance for its remarkable density of tigers, particularly within its tourism zone. Originally a significant tiger hunting area owned by the former Maharaja of Rewa, it was relinquished to the Government in 1968 due to the abolition of privy purses and his inability to manage the forest wealth. Initially devastated due to rampant poaching, its fortune changed drastically when it became a protected area under the administration of the Forest Department. The park, initially spanning 10,600 hectares, solely covered the present-day Tala Range. Its expansion in 1984, encompassing 44,800 hectares, incorporated three additional ranges: Kalwa, Magadhi, and Khitauli. Eventually, in 1993, it was upgraded to a Tiger Reserve status.
Bandhavgarh stands out as it’s not an isolated forest but part of a larger forest block. Connected to the north by the 25,000-hectare Panpatha Wildlife Sanctuary, it is surrounded by several smaller protected forests interspersed with agricultural communities.
Its landscape comprises extensive Sal forests, hills, valleys, rivers, marshes, and meadows, nurturing diverse flora and fauna. The dominant vegetation includes Sal and Bamboo in the Tropical Moist Deciduous forest. The higher reaches feature mixed forests. With over 600 species of flowering plants, 50 species of aquatic plants, and 18 rare plants, Bandhavgarh boasts rich floral diversity. Sal, Saj, Mahua, Flame of the Forest, Bija, Bael, Banyan, Jamun, Harra, Bahera, Indian Gooseberry, and Haldu are some of the essential tree species found here.
Bandhavgarh National Park is renowned for its association with the famous White Tigers of Rewa, last seen in 1951. It’s recognized for its high density of tigers, making it a prime destination for tiger sightings compared to other national parks in Central India. The park’s mammalian diversity includes Leopard, Jungle Cat, Nilgai, Chinkara, Four-horned Antelope, Grey Wolf, Dhole, Golden Jackal, Indian Fox, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Muntjac or Barking Deer, and the recently reintroduced Indian Gaur. Additionally, it houses Striped Hyaena, Sloth Bear, Common Langur, Rhesus Macaque, Wild Boar, Small Indian Civet, Common Palm Civet, Ratel or Honey Badger, Ruddy Mongoose, Common Mongoose, Indian Pangolin, Indian Tree Shrew, and Grey Musk Shrew. The reserve is also home to four species of bats: Fulvous Fruit Bat, Flying Fox, Indian False Vampire, and Indian Pipistrelle.
Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve is a haven not only for its famed tiger population but also for its remarkable diversity of bird species. With over 250 recorded bird species, it is a paradise for birdwatchers and enthusiasts.
The reserve is home to a wide array of avian inhabitants, including both resident and migratory birds. Among these are notable species such as the Indian Paradise Flycatcher, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Red-headed Vulture, White-rumped Vulture, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Crested Hawk-Eagle, Brown Fish Owl, White-eyed Buzzard, White-throated Kingfisher, Indian Pitta, Plum-headed Parakeet, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Black-headed Oriole, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, and Greater Racket-tailed Drongo.
Birdwatchers visiting Bandhavgarh can witness various species of eagles, owls, hornbills, woodpeckers, flycatchers, warblers, and more. The diverse habitats within the reserve, such as its Sal forests, hills, valleys, rivers, and grasslands, create an ideal environment for a plethora of bird species to thrive, making it an excellent destination for observing and appreciating the avian diversity of Central India.
Embarking on a tiger safari in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve is an exhilarating journey into the heart of India’s wildlife haven. Renowned for its high tiger numbers, this reserve offers an exceptional opportunity to witness the majestic Bengal tiger in its natural habitat. The lush Sal forests, undulating hills, serene valleys, and meandering rivers set the stage for an adventure where visitors traverse through varied landscapes, eagerly seeking glimpses of these iconic big cats. Bandhavgarh’s reputation as a prime tiger territory ensures a higher probability of sightings compared to other national parks in Central India, intensifying the thrill and anticipation of every safari expedition. Beyond the captivating tiger encounters, the reserve hosts a diverse array of wildlife, including leopards, deer, wild boars, and numerous bird species, offering an immersive experience amidst the natural splendor of this remarkable sanctuary.
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