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Keoladeo National Park


Keoladeo
National Park (KNP) - one of the most enchanting waterfowl refuges in the world. At the confluence of the Gambhir and Banganga rivers in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan. Formerly known as the Bharatpur Ghana Bird Sanctuary, the park, which has been extensively modified and managed by man, supports enormous congregations of migratory waterfowl in winter, and massive colonies of breeding, fish-eating birds in the monsoon and autumn. Besides the enormity in number and variety of these birds, the possibility of watching them from close quarters is the major attraction of this park. The rare and most endangered of the cranes, the Siberian crane, which is reported to winter regularly only in Bharatpur in India, is the star visitor to KNP. Since the wetland is surrounded by a variety of terrestrial habitats, chances of sighting semi - aquatic and land birds are also high, making it all the more impressive to any bird lover and giving it the name 'bird paradise'.

KNP became a Ramsar Site in 1981 and a World Heritage site in 1985 giving it the international recognition it deserves.

Geography


Area

28.7 sq. km  

Best time to visit

Throughout the year

Breeding season

Aug-Oct

Migrants

Oct-Feb


Flora

The subtropical climate of Keoladeo and the variety of habitats ranging from upland terrestrial to submerged aquatic, the dynamics of the wetland system and its strategic geographic location on the flyway of migratory birds, all contribute to the diversity of life-forms it supports.

One-third of the area is wetland with varying types of micro-habitats having trees, mounds, dykes and open water with or without submerged or emergent plants. The uplands have grasslands (savanna) of tall species of grass as also scattered trees and shrubs in varying densities.

The richness and diversity of plant life inside this small park is remarkable. Flowering plants were surveyed during a ten-year ecological study of the park in 1991. A total of 379 species were recorded in 1980s.Acacia nilotica, A.leucophloea, Prosopis juliflora, P .cinerarea, Mitragyna parvifolia and Zyzyphus spp. are the common trees found in the park. Salvadora spp. and Capparis spp. occur both as trees and shrubs. Herbs are numerous, constituting more than 55% of the floristic species present. The most widespread grasses in the terrestrial areas are Vetiveria zizanioides (Khus grass), Desmostachya bipinnata and Cynodon dactylon.

Fauna
Ornithologically, the park assumes significance in two respects: One, because of its strategic location, it is a staging ground for migratory waterfowl arriving in the Indian subcontinent before dispersing to various regions. It is also a site where waterfowl converge before departing to breeding grounds in the western Palaearctic region. In addition, the wetland is a wintering area for massive congregations of waterfowl. Two, it has been the only regular wintering area in India for the central population of the Siberian crane, which is one of the most endangered of all the crane species in the world.
KNP annually supports more than 40,000 birds of 370 species. The park has been observed to have over 130 nesting species. More than 25 species of ducks and goose like coots, brahminy duck, mallard, gadwal, wigeon, shoveller, pintail duck, barheaded goose, greylag goose and others are known to winter here annually.
The park is the only wintering ground for the highly endangered central population of the Siberian crane, migrating almost 6,400 km.
KNP supports 43 species of fish and in a good rainy season it receives more than 65 million fishfry and fingerlings along with water from the Ajan bund. KNP has 27 species of herbivores, Bluebull, feral cattle and spotted deer are common while sambhar, mongoose and civets are few. Wild boar, jackal, porcupine, hyaena and bats are also seen.Herpetofauna comprisesof 7 species of turtles, 5 species of lizards, 13 species of snakes and 7 species of amphibians. It supports a number of other endangered species especially reptiles such as the Indian flap shell turtle and the Indian rock python.

Conservation Measures

Keoladeo National Park is a renowned Ramsar Site and World Heritage site. As an artificial wetland surrounded by villages and crop fields, Keoladeo National Park needs a holistic management plan that involves local people and benefits them. An Integrated Development Programme has been suggested in which overall development of the area is envisaged. Alongwith a proposal for meeting water needs from Chambal river, the Programme envisages social and economic upliftment of the rural communities surrounding the park. WWF-India in partnership with Rajsathan Forest Department is involved in setting up a much needed Visitor Interpretation Centre and Programme.