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Spectrum Tours » National parks in india »Rajaji National Park

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Blessed with breathtaking scenic beauty and rich bio-diversity, Rajaji National Park, also make a perfect holiday spot within the wilds. This area is the northwestern limit of Asian elephant

Less than a 20-minute drive east of the holy town of Haridwar, where the river Ganga emerges from the mountains, lies Rajaji National Park. Situated in Uttaranchal state, the park's main entrance at Raingarh is just 15 km from Dehradun. Rajaji's forests were once contiguous with those of the Corbett Tiger Peserve, 170 kin to the south-cast along the Shivalik foothills, but now with spreading human settlements only isolated pockets of forest remain in the hills and the adjoining terai plains.

In 1984, three neighboUring sanctuaries, Rajaji, Motichur and Chilla, were merged to form the 820 sq km Rajaji National Park. The park's name is a tribute to the first Indian governor-general, the renowned freedom fighter, C Rajagopalachari. The park covers a gamut of habitats, from lush semi-evergreen forest to tall stands of deciduous sal, and from mixed broad-leaved and riverine vegetation to the characteristic terai grasslands. Herds of deer are often sighted on the grasslands, while sizeable numbers of Goral, a goat-antelope, keep to the low precipitous hills. The park is approximately the north-west limit of the Asian Elephants distribution and, according to the 1999 census, hosts 445 wild elephants despite the disruption in their traditional migratory routes.

Jeep rides are possible and walking is permitted along select routes in the park. The Wild Dog, distinctive in its deep red coat, has been sighted. A variety of other smaller carnivores flourish at Rajaji and although 32 tigers and 177 leopards were reported in 1999, much of this park's wildlife is not very easily seen. Sightings of the nocturnal Sloth Bear are rare. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded here. Red Junglefowl can be usually spotted on many trails and the variety of woodpeckers and hornbills demonstrates the health of the forest. With regard to its avifauna, Rajaji forms an interesting zone of transition between the temperate western Himalaya and the central and eastern Himalaya. In addition, the park marks the transition zone for avifaunal species from the forested foothills to the open grasslands.

As this is an important migratory route for wildlife, special corridors were created under the busy Rishikesh-Chilla road that cuts through the park, to ensure safe passage. However, there are several instances of animals being run over by automobiles, and the railway has also had debilitating repercussions. On the night of May 28, 2001, the Mussoorie Express ran over a cow elephant in the park's Motichur area. Urgent steps are required to curb unwelcome human intrusion and the further fragmentation of animal habitats.

MAMMALS Asian Elephant, Tiger, Goral, Leopard, Jungle Cat, Leopard-cat, Common Palm Civet, Sloth Bear, Jackal (above), Small Indian Mongoose, Common Mongoose, Barking Deer, Sambar, Spotted Deer (Chital), Wild Boar (below) BIRDS RAPTORS Osprey, Pallas's Fish Eagle, Lesser Fish Eagle, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Brown Fish Owl

WOODLAND/SCRUB Red Jungle fowl, Indian Peafowl, Black Francolin, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Greater Yellownape, Maroon Oriole, Large Cuckooshrike, Jungle Myna, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Lesser Packet-tailed Drongo, Spangled Drongo, Asian Paradise-flycatcher, Crimson Sunbird

WATERSIDE Greylag Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Comb Duck, Spotbill Duck, Stork-billed Kingfisher

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