Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary
Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at the foothills of Eastern Himalayas in Alipurduar Sub-Division of Jalpaiguri District in West Bengal.
The river Torsha flows through this rain forest sanctuary and have an area of 141 Sq.km and altitude of 61 m. Jaldapara, the vast grassland with patches of riverine forests was declared a sanctuary in 1941 for protection of the great variety flora and fauna, particularly the one-horned rhinoceros, an animal threatened with extinction. The Jaldapara Sanctuary covers 216 sq km, is a mosaic of woods, grasslands, perennial streams, sandy river banks and extensive belts of tall grass. It contains a great diversity of flora and fauna of mixed deciduous forest, grasslands and river banks. The Malangi River also flows nearby from east to west. Drained by rivers Torsa, Malangi, Hollong, Chirakhawa, Kalijhora, Sissamara, Bhaluka and Buri Torsa, the Sanctuary provides extensive grassland which is last refuge to a wide variety of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds.
The Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to famous one horned Rhino and many other varied and endangered willife species has bagged the status of a “national park” as issued in a notification by the Union Forest and Environment Ministry.
The State Wildlife advisory board had sent the proposal to the central Wildlife advisory board for promoting Jaldapara into a National Park which got the nod of the Union Forest and Environment Ministry Central Board.
Jaldapara received the “wildlife sanctuary” status in the British Era in 1941 when its area was 141 sq. km. Situated beside Hollong River, Jaldapara is now spread over in an area of 216.51 sq. km and with a Rhino population of more than 160. Other important species includes Bisons, Deers, Leopards and numerous birds including the famous Great Hornbill.
Flora and Fauna
The forest is mainly savannah covered with tall elephant grasses. The main attraction of the sanctuary is Asiatic one-horned rhinoceros. The sanctuary holds the maximum number of rhinos population in India after Kaziranga National Park in Assam. The other animals consists of Royal Bengal Tigers, elephants, deers, sambhar, barking deer, spotted deer and hog deer, wild pig, bisons. The wild life, in addition to the famous Great Indian One Horned rhinos, consists of Royal Bengal Tigers, wild elephants, deers, swamp deers, hog deers, wild pigs, bisons. Some rare species like the hispid hare and the hog-badger are also found here. Besides wildlife viewing, there is scope for unusual holiday activities like elephant riding and leisurely strolls through the towering grass.
Jaldapara is a paradise for bird watchers. It is one of the very few places in India, where the Bengal Florican is sighted. The other birds to be found here are the Crested Eagle, Pallas’s Fishing Eagle and shikra, besides Jungle fowl, peafowl, patridges, Bengal Florican and lesser Pied Hornbill. Python, monitor lizards, kraits, cobras, geckos and about 8 species of fresh water turtles have also found sanctuary here. Many of the animals are endangered like – the Asiatic one-horned rhino and elephants in Jaldapara sanctuary.
A thrilling elephant safari is organized in the early morning from Hollong to offer the exquisite beauty of the vast grassland of Jaldapara. The elephant ride is the best possible way to explore the sanctuary with the rare sight of Indian rhinos and Asiatic elephants. The jeep safari inside the sanctuary is another main attraction.
Jaldapara is also home to almost 240 species of birds, 20 species of mammals and various species of reptiles and fishes
Different vegetation types are met in the Sanctuary. The major area comprises northern dry deciduous forest, moist mixed forest, Sal-Khair Sissoo association (Riverine) and alluvial Savannah. More than 30% of the total area is under grassland. Dense stand of grasses are comprised of Saccharum spp.; Themeda arundinacea, T. villosa, Setaria Palmifolia, Cymbopogon spp., Thysanolaena maxima, Phragmites Karka, Arundo donax and Imperata cycliderica.
Interspersed in the grassland are trees such as Sissoo, Khair, simul, Siris etc. Flood plain grassland interspersed with marshy and swampy land and the adjoining riverine forests are the ideal habitat of the Rhinoceros and other inhabitants.
Air- Bagdogra 145kms from Jaldapara is the nearest airport from where tourist can reach Jaldapara by road-route via Siliguri.Bagdogra to Siliguri is 13 km.
Rail- The most important railway station in the North East India is NJP. NJP is directly connected with all major stations in India. The nearest railway station is Madarihat which is only 7 km from the sanctuary. All the mail and express trains stop at Birpara/Hasimara railway stations, both are 20 km. away from the sanctuary.
Road- Jaldapara is connected by National Highway with Siliguri and can be reached by car within 3hrs.Madarihat is the entry point for the sanctuary. It is located on the NH 31 (Siliguri-Hasimara), 140 km east from Siliguri, 80 km north from Cooch Behar and 50 km west from Alipurduar. North Bengal State Transport Corporation buses, Bhutan Government buses, minibuses are available from Siliguri to Alipurduar via Madarihat. Cars can also be hired at Siliguri.
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