Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the Alipurduar sub-division of Jalpaiguri district in north Bengal, very close to the Bhutan border. The sanctuary, established in 1941, is home to an estimated 60 to 80 mighty Indian one horned Rhinoceros, which can be distinguished from its African counterpart, known for its two horns.
Besides the fauna, the jungle presents an amazing sight with dense trees that rise up to the skies and allow very little sunlight to penetrate through. All this gives an eerie feeling to the place and a sense of excitement and uncertainty to the visitors.
The park remains open from September 15 to June 15 and closes down during the monsoons. The best time to visit the park, however, are the months from October to April when the weather remains excellent and animals can also be spotted quite easily.
Flora and Fauna:
Different vegetation types are met in the Sanctuary. The major area comprises northern dry deciduous forest, moist mixed forest, Sal-Khair Sissoo association (Riverine) and alluvial Savannah. More than 30% of the total area is under grassland. Dense stand of grasses are comprised of Saccharum spp.; Themeda arundinacea, T. villosa, Setaria Palmifolia, Cymbopogon spp., Thysanolaena maxima, Phragmites Karka, Arundo donax and Imperata cycliderica.
Interspersed in the grassland are trees such as Sissoo, Khair, simul, Siris etc. Flood plain grassland interspersed with marshy and swampy land and the adjoining riverine forests are the ideal habitat of the Rhinoceros and other inhabitants.
Jaldapara is a paradise for bird watchers. It is one of the very few places in India, where the Bengal Florican can be sighted. Jaldapara is exceptionally rich in avifauna because of varied terrain, mosaic of vegetation and rich insect life. More than 240 species of birds are found in variety of habitat – grassland, water bodies and woodland.
The varied tree forests and rich shrub growth on the forest floor provide ideal setting for many woodland birds, such as Green Pigeons, Hornbills, Barbets, Parakeets, Woodpeckers, Cuckoos, Orioles, Drongos, Babblers, Thrushes etc. Brahminy ducks, Whistling Teals and Merganser are winter visitors. The most common birds are the large and little Cormorant, Indian Shag, Darter, Egret, Pied Wagtail, River Lapwing, Moorhen, White Breasted Waterhen etc.
The hunters in Jaldapara are the Owls and Nightjars. Crested serpent Eagle is common raptorial bird. The other main birds of prey are Pallas’s Fishing Eagle, Pied Harrier, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrow Hawk etc. A variety of birds, typical of grassland and open country, can be seen from watchtowers viz. Doves, Bee-eaters, Rollers, Hoopoe, Shrikes, Larks, Hill Mynas, Bulbuls, Finches. Call of the Red jungle fowl is as common as the musical sound of crickets. Bengal Florican, Black partridge, Shaheen Falcon, Great Pied Hornbills, Forest Eagle Owl, Large Green billed Malkoha and White Rumped Vulture, Lesser Adjutant Stork are the endangered bird species found in the Sanctuary. Some fortunate visitors can see the Peacock displaying his full array of feathers during the breeding season.
Major Wildlife Attractions:
The park is home to a myriad variety of flora and fauna. The place teems with plants and beautiful flowers, especially after the monsoons. Some of the prominent tree species found in the park include tall Sal and Shishu trees. Other variety of ferns, shrubs and tall grass can also be seen.
The place is a birdwatchers paradise with over 350 species of birds recorded to have been seen. Some of the prominent avifaunal species of the region includes the fishing eagle, crested eagle, shikra, jungle fowl, partridge, peafowl, Bengal florican, pied hornbill, racket-tailed drongo and paradise flycatcher.
Besides the star residents of the park, the one horned Rhino, other mammals found in the area are the royal Bengal tiger, leopard, elephant, sambar, barking deer, hog deer, wild pig, bison and hispid hare. The creepy crawlie reptiles such as python, cobra, krait.
The one hour Elephant safari is the best way to explore the sanctuary. The safari, which begins early in the morning should be booked early in the morning, as during high times, its availability can not be guaranteed. Timings for elephant safari are 6-8 AM (6:30 inn winters). The forest department does not offer jeep safaris but these are available for hire from the tourist lodges. It is essential to take along a forest guard. Jeeps are allowed inside the park from 6-8AM & 3-5PM.
Best Time to Visit:
The best time to sight The Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is in the month of October to April
(The park remains open from September 15 to June 15).
How to Get there:
Air: Bagdogra is the nearest airport.
Rail: New Jalpaiguri is the nearest railhead. Some of the convenient daily rail connections to the place are from Delhi.
Road: To reach by road from Siliguri, take the NH31 to Dalgaon via Coronation bridge, Dam Dim, Mal Bazaar and Chalsa. From there, take the NH31C to Madarihat via Birpara.
General Info / Tips:
Park charges include Elephant safari : Rs. 140/head, Jeep Safari : Rs. 450, Vehicle : Rs. 50-200, Guide : Rs. 100/vehicle, Entry fee : Rs. 25 (Indians) & Rs. 100 (foreigners).
The assistant wildlife warden’s office at Madarihat arranges permits and bookings for elephant and jeep safaris.
Watchtowers built along the water bodies provide the best wildlife viewing opportunities.
Sanctuary timings are 9AM to 3 PM
West Bangal, India
Silliguri (75 Kms.)
Rhino, Bison, Elephant