Posts tagged ‘wildlife in gujarat’

SASAN GIR: THE BEAUTY OF THE BEAST


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PAINTED WITH THE EQUISITENESS OF NATURE AND WILDLIFE: SHOOLPANESHWAR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY


The moment one enters Gujarat, one gets a warm welcome from the people saying ‘Aavo Padharo’. One can find almost everything that articulates the language and culture of Gujarat. The cave paintings, architectural structures, palaces, temples, desert and beaches, etc. talk about the ethnicity of the state.

Gujarat has a hub of wildlife with Sasan Gir being the most important. Apart from that there are several natural reserves in the state. There are a number of wildlife sanctuaries in the state wherein nature with all its beauty greets the visitors. Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is one such place in Gujarat, painted with the exquisiteness of nature and wildlife. The sanctuary is situated in Bharuch district at a distance of 125 kms from Vadodara, in the western region of Gujarat. It covers an area of 608 sq. kms. It stretches for miles along the saline water reserve of the state. The sanctuary was first developed in 1982 and was named as Dhumkal Sanctuary. Earlier, it encompassed a meager area of 150.87 sq km. The area was extended in 1987 and the place was renamed as Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife sanctuary in 1989. It was established in order to protect Sloth Bear.

The place is named after a historic temple of Lord Shiva which once existed on the banks of the river Narmada. The word “Shoolpaneshwar” refers to Lord Shiva portrayed as having “Shool” or “Trishul” in his hand i.e. `Pani’. The temple is submerged now due to Sardar Sarovar Dam. A new temple has been constructed near Rajpipla.

Shoolpaneshwar is a wonder for tourists. The area is spread into undulating terrain, wears green blanket, tall canopies, deep valleys, majestic waterfalls, sparkling streams and scenic landscapes. The forest area is rated as one of the thickest in the state. It includes a major watershed feeding two major reservoirs with Rajpipla hills as backdrop. It is a moist deciduous forest having high scenic and aesthetic values. Hence the sanctuary makes a peaceful abode for birds and animals.

Shoolpaneshwar is rich in flora and fauna. It is marked for its richness in biodiversity. Through the sanctuary, Gujarat boasts of its wide collection of leopard with the fastest running speed, hyena with its typical laugh, sambar, four-horned antelope, panther and wild dog. Sloth Bear with a shaggy fur is an important member of the fauna family here. Animals such as barking deer which are usually smaller in size compared to the original ones and Rhesus Monkeys which are rarely found in other parts of the country are seen here. Crocodiles and otters have been sighted along the river. Best season for visiting the sanctuary is from October to March.

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The forest is also rich in botany. There are almost 575 species of flowering plants that provide scenic beauty to the woodland. Here, Teak is the primary plant species whereas patches of bamboo are observed in western and north-western areas. Amla, Haldu, Sadad, Bor, Timru, Aritha, Mahuda, Tanach, Bamboo, Karanj, etc. make the area dense.

To make the journey more adventurous Dediapada Range situated near the sanctuary can be visited. There are excellent trekking and camping options, especially after the monsoon season, when the area is lush green. To make the journey a bit cultural, Tilakvada a tribal village that falls near Dediapada is a good option. The tribal culture and tribal life can be explored.

The nearest railhead Ankleshwar, is 60 kms away from the sanctuary. The nearest airport is Vadodara. Night stay in a forest is always an amazing experience as you can experience the real beauty of nature with moonlight dinner, voice of cool breeze and can feel the silence of the forest at night. There are several guest houses available in the vicinity that provide recreational and entertainment facility. Travelling by road will also be a unique experience as one has to travel through Narmada District which is marked for its scenic beauty and pristine natural settings. Natural beauty mingled with wild lifestyle of the animal kingdom will keep lingering in your mind .

VELAVADAR: AN UNDISTURBED LAND OF GRACEFUL BLACK BUCKS


Gujarat has remained an empire of various kings. Some of these kings were wild life lovers while the others loved hunting. They used to set up a park which they often visited in their leisure hours or went for hunting in that area. One such wildlife hub is Velavadar National Park which is located about 72 kms from Bhavnagar.

Velavadar National Park, also known as Velavadar Black Buck Sanctuary, is a tropical grassland situated in the Bhal Region of Saurashtra. Moreover, it is the only tropical grassland in India to acquire the title of a national park. The place is considered one of the finest ecosystems of the grassland level and is known for the successful black buck conservation. The largest population of the black bucks at present is found in Velavadar Sanctuary of Bhavnagar. Ideally set between two rivers, one of the main reasons for the rich soil found here is that that the park is located about 50 km west of the Gulf of Cambay. The area contains saline lands, high tidal mudflats and shrub lands along with simple dense and sparse grasslands.

Nature peeps back to the history of Velavadar. Earlier, the place was a part of the princely state of Bhavnagar and the park was used as a grazing ground for the Maharaja’s cattle. During that time as well, the area used to remain flocked by black bucks. It was after independence that the population of black bucks started decreasing and came down to a meager 200 in 1966. Hence for the conservation of these creatures, an area of 8.9 sq km. was turned into a sanctuary. In 1972, the area was increased to around 34 sq. km and was accorded the status of a national park under the Wildlife Protection Act.

WILDLIFE ATTRACTIONS:

There are two gates with a road in between which leads to the park. The reception attached to the Kaliyarbhavan Forest Lodge is the place where the visitors pay the entry fee to the park. The park interpretation centre located at a short distance from here provides basic information about the animals and birds found in the area.

The sanctuary is known for black bucks – the fastest of the Indian antelopes (also known as Kaliyar). The moment one enters the park, with cameras in hand, one keep on searching for these black graceful creatures. It is a home to more than 3000 black bucks. One of the most thrilling sights in the area is the unusual mating rituals of the black buck, which involves a spectacular vertical leap of upto 2 mtrs by the male. A black buck which is easily spotted in the area has ringed horns that comprise a curved twist of three to four turns and are equal to 70 cm in length. The upper parts of the body of a black buck are black and the underneath parts and a ring in the region of the eyes are white. The light brown female is habitually devoid of horns. Apart from the famous black buck, the fauna of the region consists of various species like blue bull, antelope, wolf, jackal, jungle cat hyena, fox, wild boars and birds. One can have a close look at each of these animals on the open grassland.

The place is a paradise for bird watchers as it is a hub of several extinct bird species like, Houbara Bustard, Pallid Harriers, Lesser Florican, White Pelican, Sarus White Storks, Montagu, Marsh and other raptors as well as the Greater Spotted Eagle, juvenile Imperial Eagle, Bonillo’s Eagle, Short-toed Snake Eagle and Long legged Buzzard. These birds are easily sighted in the park. The Climate in Velavadar makes it one of the most excellent spaces for the migratory birds to breed. Moreover, the roosting of harrier hawks at dusk is an incredible sight. More than 1,500 can be seen gathering at a single site.

The jungle trail located in the park is a straight path with watchtowers dotted around it. The ‘wetland’, located just 3 km from the entry gate is an ideal spot to check out the wildlife. There are no safaris provided by the forest department, so your own vehicle is the only source of enjoying a ride around the park.

DO NOT MISS THE ALLURING TRIP:

It will act as a treat for photographers as one can have a walk around the place and discover many species on their way. The park is open throughout the year, the period between monsoon and winter (normally, mid-June to March-end) is considered to be the recommended period. But, the best time to visit Velavadar National Park is from December to March as many species of migratory birds arrive to spend their winters. This unique grassland ecosystem, a biotic province of semi-arid bio-geographical zone and the exquisite beauty of the park marks a permanent impression in the minds of the nature lovers compelling them to revisit the unperturbed region.