5 Wildlife Gems of Uttar Pradesh

5 Wildlife Gems of Uttar Pradesh
Barasingha males in a duel, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Uttar Pradesh's Dudhwa National Park and Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary, the underdogs of the Indian wildlife scene, are home to five important species

Precious Kamei
March 28 , 2018
03 Min Read

When we think of Uttar Pradesh, Taj Mahal, temples of Vrindavan and Mathura, ghaats and chaats of Varanasi, and Ayodhya comes to mind. Wildlife is not something we think about. Let's change that.

My recent visit to Dudhwa National Park and Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary (also known as Suhaildev Wildlife Sanctuary) changed the way I used to see Uttar Pradesh. Out of the 27 bird sanctuaries, these two stands out with an amazing presence of the best of fauna and avifauna. The forests, grasslands and the marshes are home to some of the globally endangered species. Five of these are:


Royal Bengal tiger

A Bengal tiger strikes a pose

The Terai landscape of Uttar Pradesh is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, distributed among Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (straddling three districts of Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Keeri and Bahraich) and Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (Dudhwa National Park, Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Katarniaghat together forms the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve). The mix of dense sal forest, grassland and marshes provides for a suitable habitat for these striped beauties. November to March is the best time to visit these parks.

Greater one-horned rhinoceros

Greater one-horned rhinoceros

Due to change of climate, loss of habitat and human intervention, the rhino territory shrank drastically in India. Now confined to only Brahmaputra plains forest in Assam and Dooars in West Bengal, the rhino population found itself in a very vulnerable state. It was then in 1984, decided to re-introduce rhinos to their erstwhile habitat, that is, Uttar Pradesh. A massive rhino relocation project was carried out in which six rhinos were relocated from Assam's Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary to Dudhwa National Park. After successful rehabilitation and breeding programmes, the at-present population of rhinos in Dudhwa is anything but dismal.

Swamp deer or Barasingha

A female swamp deer or barasingha

Most wanted for their unique antlers and meat, the swamp deer population saw a drastic decline in the past. Along with that, environmental causes, change in the river dynamics, turning of grasslands and marshes into farmlands have also lent a hand in their population decline. Back in 1992, there were just 50 in captivity, spread across five zoos. Seeing a herd of 25-30 barasingha in Dudhwa National Park was indeed a rewarding experience.


An Egyptian vulture

Vulture population face a global threat of extinction. In Dudhwa National Park, seven species of vultures has been recorded–the resident white-backed vulture, slender-billed vulture, red-headed vulture, Egyptian vulture, and the winter migrants the Himalayan griffon, Eurasian griffon and Cinereous vulture. Suhelwa has a very healthy density of Himalayan and Eurasian griffon. While returning from a safari, we came across a group of vultures feeding on a carcass right outside a couple of huts. Them feeding so close to a human settlement only proves that, for now at least, they don't feel any immediate threat from the people around. A good news where conservation is concerned.

Bengal Florican

A male Bengal florican seen in the grassland

Though the species eluded me while I was there in Dudhwa, the species remain one of the most interesting things about Dudhwa's wild. The Bengal Florican or Bengal bustard fall under Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. The tall Terai grasslands are perfect homes for these birds but due to poaching and rampant destruction of grasslands, they have gained the title of the world's rarest bustard. It is imperative to protect their habitat in order to protect these beautiful and rare birds.

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