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National Parks and Sanctuaries

There are a few sanctuaries and one national park in Bundelkhand.

In 1981, forest spread over an area of 543 sq km, across Panna and Chhatarpur districts, was notified as the Panna National Park and Tiger Reserve.

The park hosts a variety of wildlife including endangered species like the tiger, leopard, carcal, four-horned antelope, Indian wolf, pangolin, Rusty Spotted Cat, and Sloth Bear, apart from spotted deer, wild boars, rabbits, black faced monkeys (Langoors), red faced monkeys, and over 150 species of birds and reptiles like cobras and kraits.

The Ken river passes through the park, for a distance of around 55 km, and is home to a variety of aquatic fauna including the endangered long-snouted crocodile (gharial) and Marsh Crocodile (mugger).

Numerous vulnerable carp species such as the Catla catla, Labeo rohita and Cirrhinus mrigala are found in the Ken river flowing through the Panna tiger reserve.

There are also a few sanctuaries in the region with fauna like leopards, sloth bears and wild boars. Doodhraj, MP’s state bird, is found in the Veerangna Durgawati sanctuary in Damoh district.

Sanctuaries of Bundelkhand

Name Location Area (sq km) Principal terrestrial fauna
Ranipur Patha region in Chitrakoot 230 leopard, sloth bear, sambar, blackbuck, jungle fowl, fishing cat, chinkara
Mahavir Swami Deogarh, Lalitpur 5.4 leopard, nilgai, wild boar, sambhar, black buck, blue bull, bear, jackal, langur
Vijay Sagar 4 km from Mahoba town 3 jackal, mongoose, wildcat
Orchha Orchha, Tikamgarh 46 spotted deer, blue bull, wild pig, monkey, jackal
Ken Ghariyal Near Khajurao,
Chhatarpur
45 gharial, chinkara, chital, wild boar blue bull, monkey
Gangau near Panna National Park 69 NA
Veerangna Durgawati Damoh 24 panther, spotted deer, sambhar, four-horned antelope (chousingha), wild boar, blue bull, barking deer
Nauradehi Rehli, Sagar 1197 leopard, wolf, wild dog, fox, blue bull, crocodile, sambhar, chital, chinkara, sloth bear

While the tiger is claimed to be found in most of the sanctuaries, it has been frequently seen only in the Panna Tiger Reserve and even here, environmentalists like Bittu Sehgal fear, it is on the verge of disappearance.

The notified park and sanctuaries face threats from several quarters. For several years mining was done illegally in the Ken Ghariyal sanctuary. The Gangau sanctuary, notified in 1975, was totally neglected for years and extensively mined for sandstone even after it became a protected area; today the sanctuary lies in four fragmented bits.

The Panna tiger reserve was much affected by the activities of the government-owned National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) diamond mine located at Majhagawan just outside the park.

Mountains of solid waste material from the opencast mine were dumped on the surrounding forest land and slurry was emptied into a nallah running through the reserve. Residual earth after extraction of diamonds, called 'reha', was dumped indiscriminately on the border of the reserve, seriously affecting the ecology of the forest and the Ken river.

After some conservation groups went to court in 1997, a committee was set up to monitor dumping by NMDC and the company took some measures to improve its environmental practices. In the year 2000, the district administration cancelled all mining leases around the Panna tiger reserve. However, mining for diamond and sandstone is rampant in the areas around the reserve, according to the 2001 Project Tiger Status Report

The reserve and most other sanctuaries in the region also face high pressure from the growing human population living in and around the forests. In the Panna reserve, there are 15 villages, and outside the reserve, within a distance of 5 km, there are 46 villages. The total population of these villages, according to 1991 Census figures, was above 40,000 and the total cattle population was above 36,000 according to the Project Tiger status report.

Additionally, around 1000 employees of NMDC live nearby. Illegal removal of firewood, timber and non-timber forest produce like mahua flowers, beedi leaves, fruits of amla, bamboo, grasses and medicinal plants is common, as also man-made forest fires, especially in the hot months of March to June.

The practice of stall feeding cattle is rare in Bundelkhand; cattle is generally left loose to graze around the borders of the notified reserve and sanctuaries, resulting in degradation of the habitat.   

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