Rajaji National Park


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Rajaji National Park (RNP) spreads across three districts of Uttarakahnd viz. Haridwar, Dehradun and Pauri (29°15' to 30°31' North Latitude, 77°52' to 78°22' East Longitude). It has a geographical area of 820.42 Km2 in and around the Shivalik foothills and the upper Gangetic plains with elevation ranging from 302 to 1000 m asl. The Ganga River cuts RNP into two, with the Chilla range lying in the east and rest on the west of river. Named after C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji), RNP was notified in 1983 by merging three wildlife sanctuaries, namely, Rajaji, Chilla and Motichur. Due to its strategic location in the Shivalik landscape, RNP has been designated as a reserved area (Shivalik Elephant Reserve) for the "Project Elephant" with the aim of maintaining a viable population of Asian elephants in their natural habitat. In April 2015, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) accorded final approval to RNP  being declared as a tiger reserve.

The region falls under sub-tropical moist deciduous forest type with extensive stands of Shorea robusta, Mallotus philippensis, Acacia catechu, Adina cordifolia, Terminalia bellirica, Ficus bengalensis and Dalbergia sissoo. Along with elephants, RNP is home to Tiger (Panthera tigris), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), Striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena), Barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), Spotted deer (Axis axis), Sambar (Rusa unicolor) and Wild boar (Sus scrofa).

In the recent past, the region has undergone degradation and fragmentation of its habitat due to various developmental activities, such as building roads and rail network, urbanization, increasing road traffic and land encroachment for agriculture. The human population has doubled around RNP with mushrooming of townships and industries in the surrounding landscape (Joshi and Singh, 2007; Joshi and Singh, 2008). This has immensely affected the migration pattern of large bodied mammals, particularly elephants and tigers, in the landscape. This results in increased incidents of negative human wildlife interactions and negative attitude of local communities towards wildlife.

 Grassland in Rajaji National Park  Elephant herd in Rajaji National Park  An Ephemeral spring in Rajaji National Park

a) Grassland in RNP b) Elephant herd in RNP c) An ephemeral spring in RNP
© Vinaya Bhargava (a, b), Upma Manral (c)

References:

  • Joshi, R., & Singh, R. (2007). Asian Elephants are losing their seasonal traditional movement tracks: A decade study in and around the Rajaji National Park, India. Gajah. 27: 15-26.
  • Joshi, R., & Singh, R. (2008). Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and riparian wildlife corridors: A case study from lesser-Himalayan zone of Uttarakhand. The Journal of American Science, 4 (1): 63-75.
  • Kumar, D. (1995). Management plan of Rajaji National Park. (1995-96 to 2005-06), UNDP/WII