Wild life and ecotourism in Maharashtra
Bewitching biodiversity, varied climate, and vivid topography, all these best elements of nature come together to form the jungles of Maharashtra. Also, the state receives a regular downpour, which means there is greenery all around; thus attracting an impressive range of animals, including Tigers, Crocodiles, Bisons, Gawas, Neelgais, and numerous other avian species. Maharashtra is rich in its flora and fauna count, and that’s why here one can see some of the largest eco hotspots, wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and bird sanctuaries, which has been attracting nature lovers and wildlife aficionado from the different corners of India and abroad.
Even the metropolitan city like Mumbai, counted amongst the most congested cities in India, has a forest reserve in the form of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, which is home to 274 species of birds along with 42 kinds of mammals. When it comes to going for wildlife holiday to Maharashtra, the first place that pops into mind is Tadoba National Park. The oldest and the largest national park & tiger reserve in Maharashtra, Tadoba is a must visit for those who want to see tiger roaming freely in their natural habitat. Also, the region is sprinkled with many jungle resorts, offered by the Maharashtra Tourism, which keeps on buzzing with tourists even in the offseason to seek relaxation. Jeep safari facility is also available in the Navegaon National Park, which is home to species like Mouse Deer, four horned Antelope, Indian Gaur, Sloth Bear, Tigers, and Leopards.
Melaghat Tiger Reserve is another tiger tourism destination in Maharashtra, which was the first nine tiger reserves notified in 1973-74 under Project Tiger. When on a wildlife tour to Maharashtra, one can spot unusual avian species at every turn. In the Melghat Tiger Reserve, one can see the ‘forest owlet,’ which according to the researchers are critically endangered. Its discovery in Maharashtra has brought new hope for its existence. Adding to the list of places to see the endangered species is Rehekuri Blackbuck Sanctuary, the deciduous shrub forest that is home to blackbucks.
In Maharashtra, one can even trek through the wildlife sanctuaries, which ultimately doubles the adventure quotient. Radhanagari Sanctuary is one such forest reserves where tourists can immerse themselves in the thrill of walking on the pathways in the forest while anticipating the myriads of the area’s flora and fauna. Also here one can see nesting and hatching turtles.
It’s the pleasant climate and greenery that beckons the flourishing wildlife with an abundance of flora in Maharashtra like nothing West India. Over and above the climatic factor, the jungles of Maharashtra has many wildlife resorts and retreats for a stay, which makes them even more approachable. Make sure to include some of the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries of Maharashtra on your upcoming vacation.
Some of the important wild life sanctuaries and national parks are as follows:
Pench Tiger Reserve
Frequently mentioned in several novels and history books for its diverse wildlife and lush green forest, Pench Tiger Reserve includes Indira Priyadarshini Pench National Park, the Mowgli Pench Sanctuary and a buffer zone. One of the best places to see tigers in India, this wildlife reserve houses around 1200 species of plants and a good number of mammal species among which tiger population is the highlight. The best way of exploring the interior parts of this park is going for an exhilarating jeep safari that takes one from rugged landscape to the areas flourishing with dense greenery.
Umred – Kharandla Sanctuary
A simple yet charming retreat to the eyes of greenery lovers who also want to avoid crowd, Umred – Kharandla Sanctuary is spread over Pauni, Umred, Kuhi and Bhivapur Taluka of Maharashtra. The reserve has connection with Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve and is surrounded by the Wainganga River. The sanctuary protects a sizable population of tigers which is a delight for the wildlife lovers. Further the presence of mammals like leopard, flying squirrels, pangolin and honey badger enhance the excitement of travelling when they are exploring inside the park.
Navegaon-nagzira Tiger Reserve
An ideal destination for tiger safari in Maharashtra, Navegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve is a small wildlife sanctuary located in the Vidarbha Mountain Range of Bhandara District. The rocky and undulating terrains of this park are coated with thick teak woods that support an exclusive population of biodiversity. Animals like four horned Antelope, Mouse Deer, Indian Gaur, Sloth Bear and leopards are frequently seen here. Further as you explore the interior parts of the park, you get to see the best attraction of the wild, the tiger. People with great fascination for birds can see around 166 species of birds here. Jeep safaris are available inside the park to let you go closer to the wildlife.
Melghat Tiger Reserve
Located in Amaravati District of Maharashtra, Melghat Tiger Reserve is a lesser known eco-tourism destination on the southern offshoot of the Satpura Hill Range. The park is protected under the Project Tiger initiative and houses a sizable population of Royal Bengal Tigers. The park is enclosed by the Tapti River and the Gawilgadh ridge of the Satpura Range which play a significant role in supporting the diverse species of flora and fauna. The main attractions of this reserve include species like python, pangolin, leopard, sambar, chausingha, porcupine, mouse deer etc. The best attraction of Melghat is the critically endangered Forest Owlet.
Bor Wildlife Sanctuary
A living zoological museum of Maharashtra, Bor Wildlife Sanctuary is located along the Southern boundary of Nagpur district and Northern boundary of Wardha district of Maharashtra. This game reserve-turned-wildlife sanctuary has a dense population of tigers and was mainly formed to conserve the catchment value of Bor River along with the motive of supporting the unique eco-system of Bor Wildlife Sanctuary. The wildlife reserve is enclosed by several sightseeing options including the temple of Shiva at Khori-Khapa, Hanuman Temple at Khadki, Bruhaspati Temple at Chauki, and Ganesh Temple at Kelzar. The noteworthy species of herbs found in Bor Sanctuary are Tarot, Tenella, Waghori and Tarwar etc. The faunal diversity of the park includes 160 species of birds, 26 species of reptiles, a sizable population of endangered animals along with 9 species of endangered birds.