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Buxa Tiger Reserve

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Buxa Tiger Reserve, at the northeastern edge of West Bengal, borders Bhutan and Assam. This 759.26 sq. km. reserve with a core area of 315 sq. km. is somewhat contiguous with Manas National Park and forms an important elephant migratory corridor. There is tremendous animal and plant biodiversity in the area and 60 per cent of the species found here are endemic to the reserve. The elephant and the tiger are prime species found in the reserve. Unfortunately, this beautiful reserve is severely affected by dolomite mining. 

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Best season

The weather is sultry throughout the year. Summers are hot with the temperatures reaching a peak in April. There is heavy rainfall from June to August. Pre-monsoon showers in May are an almost unfailing annual feature. The average annual rainfall is about 5,323 mm., much higher than the mean of 3,925 mm. for the rest of the district.

October to May is a good time to visit with March-April probably being the best time, since animals emerge to feed on the new grasses.

Accommodation

Accommodation is available in forest rest houses within the reserve. For details contact: The Field Director, Buxa Tiger Reserve, Alipurduar, District Jalpaiguri, West Bengal. Tel.:03564-56333; Fax: 03564-55577. Or Chief Wildlife Warden, West Bengal, Bikash Bhaban (North Block), 3rd Floor, Salt Lake City, Calcutta – 700091. Tel.: 033-3346900/ 3583208; Fax: 033-3345946; E-mail: wildlife@cal.vsnl.net.in

Transport

By Air: Coochbehar, 25 km. away is the nearest airport. Bagdogra, 12 km. west of Siliguri is another airport located 175 km. from the reserve.

By Rail: New Alipurduar (1.5 km.) is the nearest broad gauge railway station. It is 723 km. from Calcutta.

By Road: Buxa is connected by road to Siliguri, 187 km. away. There is also a bus service from Calcutta to Alipurduar (723 km.) A network of roads exists through the reserve, though the hilly region in the north is only accessible on bridle paths.

The numerous vegetation patterns comprising evergreen, wet mixed or dry mixed deciduous forests, and hilly tracts complemented by riverine forests encompass a variety of animals. About 67 mammal species are reported to thrive in the reserve, including 21 endangered species. The Bengal Tiger Panthera tigris is clearly the apex species of Buxa. Leopard Panthera pardus, fishing cat, leopard cat Felis bengalensis and jungle cat are some of the other carnivores. The clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa may also be occasionally seen by a lucky few. Indian civet Viverridae, sloth bear Melursus ursinus, wild boar Sus scrofa and the Yellowthroated Marten also reside in these forests.

Gaur Bos gaurus, chital Cervus axis, sambar Cervus unicolor and the muntjac Muntiacus muntjac comprise the prey species. The Asian elephant Elephas maximus is believed to migrate between these forests and those in Bhutan. The Rhesus macaque Macaca mulatta, common langur Presbytis entellus, civets Viverridae spp. and porcupine Hystrix spp. are other mammalian species. The Malayan Giant Squirrel, blacknaped hare, flying squirrel, the mongoose and a huge population of bats and rats are some of the smaller inhabitants of these forests.

36 species of reptiles including 10 endangered species are known to exist in the reserve. Pythons, the Indian cobra, kraits, vipers, monitor lizards and tortoises represent the reptilian population. The Chinese Pangolin and the reticulated regal python are endemic to the Buxa forests. Mahseer Barbus putitora are prominent fish that are found in abundance in the rivers.

Over 230 avian species have been identified, which include migrant as well as resident species. The peafowl Pavo cristatus, Red Jungle Fowl Gallus gallus and the Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis are prominent species. The Sparrow hawk and White-eyed Buzzard Eagle are some of the raptors that occur here. Woodpeckers, larks, pipits, pitas, wagtails, warblers, the Fairy Bluebird, ioras, munias and finches are often sighted in these parts. Egrets, storks, goosanders from the Himalayas, forktails, redstars and wagtails are found near the rivers. The magnificent Black Stork is another fascinating winter migrant. During the summer, the rare Ashy Minivet may make an appearance and as the rain clouds vanish, several other minivets and Sultan tits may be sighted.

Buxa lies in the Jalpaiguri district in the Western Duars region of the Himalayan foothills, a characteristic terai landscape dotted with extensive tea gardens. The Buxa-Jainti Hills bordering Bhutan extend upto 3,000 m. at Sinchula in the east, while the western ridge at Rohabal is at a lower altitude. The Sankis River flanks the eastern boundary of the reserve. The Jainti river flows southward in the middle of the sanctuary and the Katulam Nala joins this river above a narrow gorge at the eastern edge of Mohakal. Smaller rivers like Rydak, Bala, Pana and Dimi crisscross the terrain, charting their own course and creating new formations from silt deposits. The terrain is marked by alluvial floodplains with coarse pebbles and boulders near the hills. Clay and sand are found along the banks of rivers. Slate, quartzite and dolomite are some of the minerals found in the region. Carbonaceous shale and flaky coal deposits are also found. Phyllites, schist and limestone are other characteristic minerals. 

Vegetation/Flora

The forest has predominantly tropical semi-evergreen vegetation with patches of evergreen and deciduous forests. Eastern alluvial secondary semi-evergreen forests occur close to the streams that flow in the plains. Aesculus panduana, Eugenia Formosa and Dillenia pentagyna are typical trees found here. Sal Shorea robusta trees grow in abundance in the moist forests where Sterculia villosa, Duabanga sonneretioides, Tetrameles nudiflora and Terminalia myriocarpa also grow. Dalbergia sissoo and Acacia catechu are most common in the silt deposits on the riverbeds. At higher altitudes, the moist soil supports Narenga porphyrocoma. Trees like Albizzia procera, Salmalia malabarica, Syzygium cerasoides, Randia dumentorum and Butea monosperma also grow in the moist areas.

In the fertile riverine areas, the savanna-type vegetation is dominant.

The eastern terai sal forests support on ill-drained soils the Machilus and Phoebe species, besides sal.

East Himalayan moist mixed deciduous forests consist of Schima wallichii and Lagerstroemia parviflora. Shorea robusta, Careya arborea, Dillenia pentagyna, Syzygium cerasoideum and Salmalia malabarica are fire-resistant species that gradually take over the savanna vegetation forming mixed deciduous forests.

Moist sal savannah forests have Careya and Palas trees apart from sal. Tall grasses like Phragmites karka, Saccharum procerum, S. spontaneum, Erianthus elephantinus and Anthistiria gigantea grow in dense pockets. Saccharum arundinaceum, Cymbogon nardus and Imperata cylindrical are other grasses found in the reserve. Khair and sissoo with kush grass grow on the fresh sand banks on river beds. Premna, simul and sidha are some of the first to appear. 

Secondary dry deciduous forests consist of sal trees alongwith Tetrameles, Lagerstroemia and Terminalia belerica.

East Himalayan subtropical wet hill forests are found in the hills. Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, Acrocarpus fraxinifolius and Phoebe lanceolata occur in the lower reaches. At altitudes above 900 m., Castanopsis, Alnus, Betula spp. are found along with various types of bamboo.

A few rare wild buffalo have been sighted in the forests of the South Rydak range. Guenala, near the Pokhri Lake is one particular site where sightings have been reported.

The rare Chinese Pangolin, which is a nocturnal feeder of ants and termites, has reportedly been seen in the Pana Range on occasion.

The extremely rare Black-necked Crane was sighted near Bhutanghat in the reserve during the early winter of 1992.

The Rydak and Jainti rivers harbour a number of waterbirds found in the reserve, including goosanders, forktails and redstars.

The Narathali Lake often attracts migrant species like the Common Teal, Gargani Teal, Large Whistling Teal and the White-eyed Pochard.

 

Jaldapara Sanctuary, the stronghold of the rhino in Bengal, is about 60 km. en-route to Buxa and is also a good spot to visit.

Do not disturb animals with your vehicle or by making loud sounds.

Firearms are not allowed within the park.

The park is very close to the Bhutan border, so some areas may be out of reach. Take necessary permits from the Field Director of the reserve.

Useful contacts

Field Director, Buxa Tiger Reserve, P.O. Alipurduar, Dist. Jalpaiguri – 736122. Tel.: 03564-56333/ 55979; Fax: 03564-55577; E-mail: buxatiger@dte.vsnl.net.in

In 1866, the Forest Department first took charge of these forests and the Buxa Tiger Reserve was established under Project Tiger in February 1983. The area was demarcated into core and buffer zones only in 1986 and it wasn't until 1992, when it was declared a National Park that the areas were brought under the administrative control of the Field Director. 

 
 
 

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