Although tigers can be found in parks and reserves around the world, the places best known for keeping them are those that are situated within the natural habitat of the tiger. Therefore, tiger enthusiasts are urged to visit India’s parks for rewarding tiger viewing experiences. India is home to 37 tiger sanctuaries. However, as the population numbers of the tiger dwindle, almost 20 of these sanctuaries find themselves in dire need of protecting their last remaining tigers, or must otherwise face the threat of shutting down.
These are just a few of India’s finest tiger parks:
Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India
This tiger reserve has been the 19th Project Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger since 1992, and extends over the areas of Seoni and Chhindwara. The dry deciduous forest that makes up much of this landscape, combined with tropical moist deciduous forest and dry mixed deciduous forest, is the ideal habitat for an impressive variety of wildlife, including fascinating birds and even insects. However, it is the tiger that draws thousands of people every year.
Pench Tiger Reserve has a total area of 758 square kilometres, of which 299 square kilometres is the main park, while the remaining area is a buffer region.
Other popular animals in the Pench Tiger Reserve include: chital, sambhar, nilgai, wild boar, jackal, leopard, sloth bear, wild dog, porcupine, gaur, chowsingha, barking deer, peafowl, crimson-breasted barbet, racket-tailed drongo, lesser whistling teal, and herons.
In February 2011, Pench won a Tiger Park Award for being the best administered park in India.
Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India
The beautiful bamboo and sal forests, deep ravines and sprawling grassy meadows of the Kanha Tiger Reserve proved to be the ideal location in which Rudyard Kipling set his popular novel, The Jungle Book. This park is in the Mandla and Balaghat districts, covering 940 square kilometres, which does not include the buffer zones, which are approximately 1 200 square kilometres when combined.
Tigers are prolific in the Kanha Tiger Reserve, making this a popular tourist hotspot. It is somewhat inaccessible, but this only makes it more remote and rewarding in terms of escaping city life.
Other popular animals in Kanha Tiger Reserve include: leopard, sloth bear, Indian wild dog, Indian wolf (although it is very rare to spot one of these), chital, sambhar, langur, wild boar, gaur, the hard ground swamp deer, golden jackal, Bengal fox, smooth-coated otter, jungle cat, Indian spotted chevrotain, Purple Heron and White-eyed Buzzard.
Corbett Tiger Reserve, Uttarakhand, India
This is the oldest park in India, having been established in 1921. It is named after Jim Corbett, who played an integral role in establishing it. It is situated in the Nainital district and covers 1 300 square kilometres. It is made up of deciduous mixed forests on very hilly plains, flatter grasslands and dense sal forests. This is the ideal habitat for tigers, who like to roam and need shelter in which to stalk their prey and care for their young.
Situated close to the Himalayas, the Corbett Tiger Reserve is home to a number of animals only found in this area (such as the Himalayan Black Bear and the Ghoral).
Other popular animals in Corbett Tiger Reserve include: Himalayan palm civet, breeding herds of elephants, leopards, civets, sloth bears, jackals, Gharials (fish-eating crocodiles), mugger crocodiles, and Tawny Fish Owls. With over 600 different bird species, Corbett is considered to be one of the world’s best birding destinations.
Other animals found in the Sundarbans National Park include: macaques, wild boar, common grey mongoose, fox, jungle cat, pangolin, chital, Black-headed Ibis, coots, Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Pariah Kites, Red Junglefowls, Rose Ringed Parakeets, and Fishing Eagles. Endangered species found here include the Estuarian Crocodile, River Terrapin, Olive Ridley Turtle, Gangetic Dolphin, Kings Crab, Hawks Bill Turtle and Ground Turtle.