Palamau tiger reserve, a forgotten beauty
Monday - November 6, 2017 1:37 pm , Category : WTN SPECIAL
Also known by the name of Betla National Park, the Palamau Tiger Reserve is one of the first and oldest tiger reserves of India, established in 1974.
Spread over 1,130 sq km area, the national park is one of the richest in its flora and fauna pool but also one of the rarely visited parks. Years of Naxalite activities and interference in the forest area that is surrounded by several villages and tribal settlements, had made the place almost a taboo for the tourist.
This also led to neglect and proper development of tourist facilities did not happen after the initial establishments. Shortage of funding and lack of staff plagued the upkeep of the natural asset. However, in recent years, with the decline in Naxal infestation, tourism activities have increased and people have started coming to soak in the exceptional natural beauty of the park that is surrounded by hills, being situated on the western side of the Chhotanagpur plateau.
Sal, bamboo and other dry and moist deciduous forests interspersed by grassland patches characterise the ecosystem. The one main attraction of the national park, apart from the wildlife, is the imposing Palamau Fort, though in ruins, which was built by the local Chero dynasty rulers in the 16th century.
Though a 2007 census found 17 tigers inhabiting the park, later in 2012, a DNA counting method established the presence of around six tigers, though the forest department claims there could be more tigers in the core area which, due to its inaccessibility, may not have been covered well in the DNA census.
In any case, there has been a drastic drop in the number of tigers over the years due to poaching and lack of proper care, if we consider the fact that in 1974, when the reserve was established, there were no less than 50 tigers in the forest.
Interestingly, the world’s first pug-mark based tiger census was conducted in Betla region in 1932. Apart from the tiger, the national park has also a formidable number of wild elephants, leopards, sambars, nilgais, wild boars, wolves, pangolins and wild dogs.
Over 140 species of birds have also been found in the reserve. The peafowl is a famous inhabitant of the region. Apart, birds like patridges and red jungle fowl are also found in abundance. The park in open all round the year, but the best time to visit is in the October to April period. The summers are extreme and water scarcity pesters the national park.
Though a part of the Koel river passes through the park, it too runs dry in peak summer and animals depend largely on the man-made watering holes. A forest rest house with decent facilities sits close to such a watering hole and animal sightings are not rare from this wooden beauty.
There are a couple of other staying facilities too to choose from in the forest. One can also stay in the nearest town Daltonganj, some 30 kms away, where there are half a score decent hotels. Jeep and elephant safaris in the morning and evening are available at the park for Rs400 per person per trip. Daltonganj is connected by a railway network that sees daily trains from Delhi, Kolkata, Patna and Ranchi.
Ranchi is the nearest airport, which is 140kms from Betla and is connected with good road served by buses and taxis.-Window To News