Bandipur National Park, spreading over 874 sq. km at the foothills of Western Ghat is situated in the Chamarajanagar district of southern Karnataka state in India. The park is located on the southern part of Kabini River. This unique ecosystem, part of Nilgiri biosphere reserve is a bio-diversity hotspot of sothern India. Bandipur National Park together with Nagarhole National Park, Mudumalai National Park and Waynad Wildlife Sanctuary create the biggest protected forest area in southern India spreading over 2183 Sq. Km. 90 Sq.km. of forest in this area was converted into protected forest by Maharaja of Mysore in the year 1931. Later realizing the small size of the area for effective conservation of wildlife, it was increased over 800 Sq. Km and declared as National Park. Initially name of the park was Venugopala National Park. It was renamed as Bandipur National Park when government took the area under Project Tiger Scheme in the year 1974. The park is famous for its pristine forest and undulating landscape. Other than Kabini River, Nagor and Moyar River also flow through the park which helps to flourish the jungle of the area and also main source of water for the wildlife. Due to its location within Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and continuity with adjacent National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary which makes a corridor for the movement of wildlife, the Bandipur National Park creates a environment to flourish some of the endangered and endemic species of wildlife found in southern India.
Flora and Fauna:
Flora of the park consists of Mixed Deciduous Forest and Tropical Dry Fortes. Rich Teak forest is covered a major part of the park. Other valuable timber found here are Rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia) and Sandlewood (Santalum album). Other trees and plants found here includes Indian Laurel (Terminalia tomentosa), Indian Kino Tree (Pterocarpus marsupium), Giant Clumping Bamboo (Dendrocalamus strictus), Kadam (Adina cordifolia), Indian Gooseberry (Emblica officinalis), Axlewood (Anogeissus latifolia), Flame of the Forest ( Butea monosperma) etc.
As a tiger reserve the park is home to more than seventy Bengal Tigers which makes it a prime tiger destination of south India. Due to favorable habitat the park also shelters more than 3000 Asian Elephant. Other than tigers, predator species found in the park are Leopard, Wild Dog or Dhole, Stripped Hyena and Jackal. Sloth Bear and Wild Boar are found in good number. Herbivores species commonly sighted here are Gaur, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Barking Deer, Four-horned Antelope or Chowsingha. Other mammalian species found here are Common Langur, Bonnet Macaque, Mouse Deer, Rusty Spotted Cat, Black-napped Hare, Ruddy Mongoose, Stripe-necked Mongoose, Small Indian Civet, Common Indian Otter, Slender Loris, Indian Pangolin, Porcupine, Malabar Giant Squirrel etc.
Bandipur is very rich and famous for its avifaunal species. Species like Malabar Trogon, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Malabar Parakeet and Sri Lanka Frogmouth are some of the endemic and endangered bird species found in the park. Other notable avifaunal species has been recorded in the park are Red Spurfowl, Ferruginous Duck, Black-necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Eurasian Spoonbill, Spot- billed Pelican, Red-necked Falcon, Merlin, Laggar Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Pallid Harrier, Egyptian Vulture, Bonelli’s Eagle, Booted Eagle, Demoiselle Crane, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Blue-faced Malkoha, Brown Fish Owl, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Hurt-spotted Woodpecker, Indian Pitta, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch etc.
Notable reptilian species found in the park are Marsh Crocodile, Rock Python, Russel’s Viper, Green Keelback, Bamboo Pit Viper etc.