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Spectrum Tours » National parks in india » Simplipal national park

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Simplipal National Park is one of the earliest wildlife habitats that was taken under Project Tiger and is located in the forest belt of northern Orissa. Formerly a favourite among the royals of Mayurbhanj district, the park set in an expanse of the fine Sal forest. Tourist can enjoy jeep safaris and explore the wild surroundings of Simlipal. The Simlipal Tiger Reserve, one of the country's largest protected areas, is located in the Mayurbhanj district of Orissa. A forested, hilly terrain 200 km south-west of Kolkata, the reserve is endowed with an exceptional biodiversity. Its name derives from the abundance of semul or red silk cotton trees which bloom vividly in the first few months of the year. Of the reserve's almost 1,000 species of flowering plants, 94 are orchids alone, many of which are on show at the small orchidarium at Gurguria.

Simlipal's hilly terrain is carved by a number of rivulets. The riparian habitat around streams such as East Deo, Palpala, Budhabalang, Khadkei, Khairi and Bandhan contains swampy tracts and impressive waterfalls, the finest and most popular being Barheipani and Joranda. Expanses of semi- evergreen and moist-deciduous forests are interspersed with majestic sal trees and lowland meadows. Grassy Chahala, Bachurichara, Devsthali and Sapaghar have fairly good concentrations of wildlife.

Three of India's bigger animal species -Tiger, Asian Elephant and Gaur - are resident here, but the terrain and vegetation make sightings rare.
From the leafy canopy, the giant squirrel's rattling cry merges with the din of the nearly 250 species of birds. Crocodiles and otters can be seen along the rivers. A captive-breeding project, the Mugger Crocodile Scheme at Jashipur, towards the north-west fringes of the reserve, aims to restore to Simlipal a viable population of the Mugger (Marsh Crocodile).

The reserve was the hunting preserve of the Mayurbhanj maharajas. A small area was declared a sanctuary in 1957.The tiger reserve extends over 2,750 sq. km, within a larger area of 4,374 sq km that constitutes the biosphere reserve. An 845 sq km core area comprises the Simlipal National Park, a tract of total wilderness. The forest department organizes jungle visits, but accommodation has been kept to the minimum in the reserve's much-visited northern part. Unfortunately, certain areas have degenerated into picnic spots.

Excessive hunting in the past seriously damaged the wildlife of Simlipal. Local tribal communities still indulge in an annual ritual hunt (akhand shikar) with bows and arrows. Encroachment, livestock grazing, poaching and indifferent visitors add to the problems. Despite nature's resilience, better funding for effective protection and awareness is crucial to the maintenance of this wilderness, which may still be able to sustain healthy numbers of animals.

The sanctuary is home to many species of wild animals like Tiger, Leopard, Leopard-cat, jungle Cat, Wild Dog (Dhole),Wolf, Striped Hyena, Small Indian Civet, Patel, Sloth Bear, Asian Elephant, Gaur (Indian Bison), Sambar, Spotted Deer (Chital), Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Chowsingha (Four-horned Antelope), Indian Pangolin REPTILES Mugger (Marsh Crocodile), King Cobra, Rock Python . Here is an opportunity for the nature lover to study several species of birds, chief among which are the Crested Serpent Eagle, Black Eagle, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Changeable Hawk Eagle (above), Booted Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Dusky Eagle Owl, Brown Hawk Owl

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