Fauna in the Jim Corbett Park

Animals Found in Jim Corbett National Park

One of the well-known species of animals inhabiting Jim Corbett is Royal Bengal tigers. It was in the forests of Jim Corbett that India’s tiger conservation programme was initiated on 1st April 1973. There was a time when many man-eater tigers which dominate the Terai-Bhabar region. However, with recent decline in the population of tigers, the attacks on tigers have become quite a rare occurrence. Adult tigers could be seen as solitary wanderers to the tourists, whereas tigresses could be spotted with young cubs.

Leopards can be easily located hilly areas but can also be seen around in the low land jungles. Smaller sized feline population comprises the jungle cat, fishing cat and leopard cat. Other mammals inhabiting Jim Corbett National park includes deer species (Barking, Sambar, Hogg and Chital), Sloth and Himalayan Black bears, Indian Grey Mongoose, otters, Elephants, yellow-throated martens, Ghoral (goat-antelopes), Indian pangolins, and Langur and rhesus monkeys. Tourists can also spot Owls and Nightjars during the night. Local crocodiles (along the banks of Ram Ganga River) and Indian Python could also be seen in the Jim Corbett Park.

Tiger

Jim Corbett Park has one of the highest densities of tigers. Tiger is an indicator of a healthy wilderness ecosystem. If the tiger is protected, our forests will also live. And forests mean good air and plenty of freshwater, both of which affect our own survival. It is symbolises the power of Nature and finds an important place in our culture, mythology and legends. It has been worshiped as the guardian and ruler of the forest. The terai-bhabar region, including Corbett, was once the best place to find tigers but this habitat has reduced tremendously due to development-induced land use changes. The tiger has always had a close association Corbett National Park – earlier through the writings of Jim Corbett and other shikaris and later because of the launch of Project Tiger, India’s tiger conservation programme, initiated from the Park’s soil on 1st April 1973. 

Being a carnivore and a master predator, the tiger lies on top of the food pyramid. It keeps the population of ungulates under control and thus maintains the ecological balance. Tigers hunt deer (preferably sambar but also chital and barking deer) and wild boar. They choose the largest of the prey species since larger prey represents more energy for the effort spent. For this reason the sambar population density is believed to be a good indicator of the presence of tigers. Occasionally, tigers will also attack young of elephants and take smaller species, including monkeys, birds, reptiles and fish. Adult tigers are usually solitary, except for females with cubs. However, sometimes several are sometimes seen together. Generally, both female and male tigers maintain home ranges that do not overlap with the home range of another tiger of the same sex. Females have home ranges of approximately 20 sq. km while those of males are much larger, covering 60-100 sq. km. Male home ranges cover the territory of many smaller female home ranges. The male protects his territory and the females within it from competing males.

Among the large cats in India tigers have the greatest reputation as man-eaters. Several legendary man-eating tigers have been known, especially during the terai-bhabar region. Such tigers have been immortalised through the writings of Jim Corbett. For example, the Champawat tiger is said to have killed 434 people before Corbett finally succeeded in killing it. However, in recent times, with the huge decline in the numbers of tigers, attacks on humans have been relatively rare. Man-eating is usually the result of a tiger’s inability to catch usual prey when it is too old to hunt or if it has an injury.

To mark their territories, tigers use several means of advertising this fact. Urine and anal gland secretions are sprayed on trees, bushes and rocks in various places throughout a particular area. They also make claw marks on trunks of trees. Such markings help avoid physical confrontation since any intruders in the territory recognise the owner’s scent and generally keep out.

The Asian Elephant

The elephant, largest of the land mammals, has been an integral part of the history, mythology, tradition, culture and religion of India. There are three surviving species of elephants in the world, one in Asia and two in Africa. The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is distributed in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Unlike the African species, Asian elephants have been domesticated for thousands of years and have been used in medieval warfare, for temples, and as a working animal.

Corbett Tiger Reserve has about 700 Asian elephants. They are part of the migratory population that also lives in Rajaji National Park. Earlier, there were much fewer elephants in Corbett but their population in the park has increased significantly in recent decades. Although, present throughout the Park, elephants are most easily sighted in Dhikala chaur, Phulai chaur, and near the Saddle Dam.

Deer - Corbett has four species of deer. They are the most frequently sighted large mammals in the Park. Chital, the commonest deer of CorbettChital (Axis axis) or Spotted deer is the commonest of deer species of Corbett. It is also the most beautiful, with characteristic white spots on its reddish-brown body. Only male chital have antlers that may grow up to 1 m length. These antlers are periodically shed and a new set developed every time. Chital are most active in early morning and evening and rest in cool places during the heat of the day. They give alarm calls to warn the herd when a potential threat or predator is sensed. Chital are ecologically important because they form an important prey base for carnivores like leopards and tigers. They also help in dispersal of plant seeds including grasses and also tree and shrub species like amla, ber, etc.

Hog deer in chaurPara or Hog Deer (Axis porcinus) is the rarest of Jim Corbett Park’s deer. It is closely related to the chital but is smaller in size. Unlike most other deer, the hog deer is not given to leaping over obstacles but instead, it escapes its predators by crouching low, ducking under obstacles. Its limbs are short and its hind legs are longer than the fore legs. This anatomy raises its rump to a higher level than the shoulders. This species mostly inhabits grasslands, swampy areas and clearings and is usually nocturnal. Unlike chital, hog deer are solitary animals but sometimes feed in small groups. Hog deer face the threat of habitat destruction, especially draining of swampy areas and change in water regimes.

Sambar (Cervus unicolor) is the largest deer found in Corbett. Its body is largely a uniform greyish-brown in colour, except for the creamy white on the backsides and under-tail areas. Males have antlers up to 1 m long that are periodically shed and replaced. Male sambar also has dense manes on their necks. Sambar is the largest deer of CorbettSambar are mostly found in dense forests with a gently sloping to steep topography. They are known to reach altitudes as high as 3,700 m. Sambar browse on leaves, berries, fallen fruit, leaves and tender bark of young trees, and also graze on grasses and sedges. These deer are mostly active solitary but may be found in small groups during the mating season.

Kakar or Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjak) is the smallest in size among the deers found in Jim Corbett Park. The body colour is golden tan on the dorsal (upper) side and is lighter on the undersides. Male kakar have short antlers growing on long, bony projections called burrs. In place of antlers, females possess only bony knob-like burrs on their head. Males also have tusk-like upper canine teeth curving sharply outwards from the lips. Kakar emit a typical dog-like alarm “bark” when they sense the presence of a predator. Barking may carry on continuously for up to an hour. They are active both during daytime and at night. They are a prey for tigers, leopards, jackals and pythons.

Other mammals

The Leopard (Panthera pardus) is the other large cat found in Corbett. Compared to the tiger leopards are smaller, more graceful and have a long agile body that has rosettes instead of stripes. It also has the ability to limb trees. Leopards are quite versatile, adaptable to a variety of terrains as well as to a broad range of prey that includes everything from insects and rodents up to large ungulates. Leopards mostly hunt during twilight hours and at night. They also ambush their prey by jumping down from trees.

The leopard’s call is termed as ‘saw’. Sawing can be described as a short rasping vocalisation.

When living near populated areas leopards will attack and kill livestock and domestic dogs. Sometimes, they also attack humans. In spite of leopards being highly adaptable, they face many problems in survival. This includes habitat destruction, poaching for their skins, and persecution as killers.

There are two species of primates found in Corbett. The Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) is theThe langurs are excellent climbers commonest monkey of the Indian subcontinent. It lives in a wide range of habitats – from plains to the Himalayas at elevations up to 3000 m – and is quite adaptable to humans. Its body is earthy brown in colour and buttocks are reddish. The Rhesus is quite a lively and vocal animal. It lives in large troupes of up to two hundred individuals. Large dominant males (called alpha males) lead these groups. It is omnivorous, and often eats roots, herbs, fruits, insects, crops, and small animals.

Hanuman or Common Langur (Semnopithecus entellus) has an unmistakable appearance - a light body, dark face and a very long tail. It is considered to be sacred in many parts of India and is found in many environments, from desert edge to forests. Langurs are vegetarian and feed mainly on leaves, buds, flowers, fruit, and seeds. Feeding activity is generally in the early morning and late afternoon. Like monkeys, langurs too live in troupes led by dominant males. In the trees, they are remarkably agile and can make horizontal leaps of 3-5 m.

Himalayan Goral or Ghural (Nemorhaedus goral) is a goat-like animal that occurs in the Himalayas between 1,000 to 4,000 m. It lives in small groups on sparse mountainous slopes and cliff faces with crevices. It is remarkably sure footed and can move at high speeds even over near vertical terrain. Goral are active at dawn and dusk when they come to feed on grasses, leaves, twigs, nuts and fruit. Mostly grey to brown in colour, the goral has a lighter coloured ‘bib’ at the base of the neck and sports short, conical, backward-curving horns having irregular ridges. Goral are well camouflaged, and thus are very difficult to spot, especially when they are still.

Wild boar (Sus scrofa) is the ancestor of the domesticated pig that lives in moist forests and scrub. It has long, curved canine teeth (called tusks) that are used for digging food and as weapons. Wild boar feed on roots, tubers, fruits, shrubs, bird eggs, insects, mice, snakes, frogs and carrion. They usually move in groups both at day and night.

Jackals can be seen near forest rest housesThe Asiatic Jackal (Canis aureus) is a member of the dog family. It is found in open country, short grasslands and has also adapted to living near human settlements.

Gharial and Mugger

Jim Corbett Park is one of the best places to see gharials. Jim Corbett Park has two of India’s three crocodilian species. It is considered to be one of the best spots to see the Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), one of the largest and most endangered crcodilians of the world. It is found only in the Indian subcontinent. It gets its name from the ‘ghara’ or pot like structure on the snout that is present only in males. About 100 gharials live in the Ramganga and can be seen swimming in its deep pools or basking in the sun on its banks. These were released as part of the conservation programme for gharials. Though it has been saved from extinction, the gharial is still critically endangered. The main threats are – loss of habitat (fast-flowing rivers) and nesting sites (sandbanks) due to construction of dams and barrages which changes the flowage of water and exploitation of fish by humans (depletion of prey species).

The still waters of Corbett, especially the Ramganga reservoir, are home to the Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris). Muggers are more general carnivores and take a variety of animals as food. Muggers are also found in Nakatal, Corbett’s only lake.

Mahseer and other Fishes

Corbett is home to many species of freshwater fish. The Ramganga, Palain, Sonanadi and Mandal rivers, provide vital habitat and breeding grounds for them because of moderate temperature, low gradient, presence of deep pools and boulders and gravel on stream beds, and negligible pollution. Fish form a fundamental link in the food chain for many key species like the gharial, otters, fish-eagles, kingfishers, ospreys, storks, fish-owls, egrets, darters and pelicans. The most celebrated of the fishes is the Golden Mahseer (Tor putitora), a large freshwater river fish belonging to the carp family. It has a magnificent appearance – sap green body with bright orange scales. Mahseer is considered to be one of the most prized fish for anglers all over the world.

Clean water, which is increasingly becoming rarer, is the prime habitat requirement for the mahseer. Its population has declined due to loss of habitat. Loss of breeding grounds also poses a threat because mahseer require shallow, clear, well-oxygenated water for spawning, which again is hard to find these days. Decline of mahseer is also due to construction of dams on their migratory routes, obstructing access to favoured spawning areas upstream. The Ramganga is one of the best-preserved rivers for mahseer in India. Other important fish species of Corbett are Goonch (Bagarius bagarius), Indian trout (Barilius bola) and Rohu (Labeo rohita). Sustainable angling, as opposed to intensive fishing, benefits conservation of prized fishes like mahseer. Angling is allowed in certain areas in the buffer region of Corbett after taking permits from the Forest Department.

Crocodile Conservation Project Gharial were reintroduced in Ramganga: The Crocodile Conservation Project was launched in 1976. The main aim of the project was to save India’s three endangered crocodilian species, namely the freshwater crocodile, the saltwater crocodile and the gharial. This involved intervention measures like:

Captive breeding of species

Collection of eggs from natural habitat, subsequent hatching and rearing of crocodiles/gharials in captivity to reduce mortality due to natural predators and finally released into the wild. The Gharial Rehabilitation Project formed a subunit of the umbrella Crocodile Conservation Project. This focussed on gharial, which had come very close to extinction in 1974. As part of the Gharial Rehabilitation Project, more than 250 gharials were released in the Ramganga river in Corbett National Park between 1982 and 1994.

Herpetofauna

There are several species of snake in Jim Corbett Park. Reptiles live in a great variety of habitats. But apart from the gharial and mugger the other reptiles of Corbett have not been studied in great detail. Several species of snakes have been reported from here, including the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) and Indian Cobra (Naja naja). Indian Rock Pythons (Python molurus) are frequently sighted and there also exist several kinds of vipers, kraits and boas.

The Bengal Monitor (Varanus bengalensis) is the most imposing of Jim Corbett Park’s lizards. The list includes nine other species of Agamas, Geckos and Skinks. Amphibians occupy a wide range of niches from forest floor to freshwater swamp, and from urban areas to mountain torrents. As of now, there are seven species of toad and frog occurring in the Park.

It comes out during the night to forage for food. Its omnivorous diet consists of deer fawns, rodents, hares, birds, eggs, reptiles and amphibians and various fruits especially ber and jamun. The jackal is also an opportunistic scavenger, readily raiding garbage bins.

Corbett is one of the few places in India where three species of otter are found existing together. Otters are an important component in the ecology of the Park, especially the Ramganga and its tributaries. Otters are indicators of a healthy river ecosystem. These small carnivores are a part the aquatic food chain and live mostly along riverbanks, spending a lot of their time in water. They make dens among rocks and boulders along perennial streams and rivers. The species of otters occurring in Corbett Park are Eurasian or Common otter (Lutra lutra monticola), Smooth-coated otter (Lutra perspicillata) and Small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinerea). Fish forms the majority of the otters’ diet, except in case of Small-clawed otter, which primarily feeds on insects and other invertebrates.

Otters face threat of elimination of habitat due to construction of dams, intensive fishing, quarrying in rivers for stone and gravel and land use changes for agriculture or prawn cultivation. Poaching in the hilly regions of India for otter skins is also a threat.

To get Corbett wildlife information and to know more about animals at Corbett National Park or to reserve a wildlife safari tour to corbett national park, write email on jimcorbettpark@gmail.com

Fauna in the Jim Corbett Park

Animals Found in Jim Corbett National Park

One of the well-known species of animals inhabiting Jim Corbett is Royal Bengal tigers. It was in the forests of Jim Corbett that India’s tiger conservation programme was initiated on 1st April 1973. There was a time when many man-eater tigers which dominate the Terai-Bhabar region. However, with recent decline in the population of tigers, the attacks on tigers have become quite a rare occurrence. Adult tigers could be seen as solitary wanderers to the tourists, whereas tigresses could be spotted with young cubs.

Leopards can be easily located hilly areas but can also be seen around in the low land jungles. Smaller sized feline population comprises the jungle cat, fishing cat and leopard cat. Other mammals inhabiting Jim Corbett National park includes deer species (Barking, Sambar, Hogg and Chital), Sloth and Himalayan Black bears, Indian Grey Mongoose, otters, Elephants, yellow-throated martens, Ghoral (goat-antelopes), Indian pangolins, and Langur and rhesus monkeys. Tourists can also spot Owls and Nightjars during the night. Local crocodiles (along the banks of Ram Ganga River) and Indian Python could also be seen in the Jim Corbett Park.

Tiger

Jim Corbett Park has one of the highest densities of tigers. Tiger is an indicator of a healthy wilderness ecosystem. If the tiger is protected, our forests will also live. And forests mean good air and plenty of freshwater, both of which affect our own survival. It is symbolises the power of Nature and finds an important place in our culture, mythology and legends. It has been worshiped as the guardian and ruler of the forest. The terai-bhabar region, including Corbett, was once the best place to find tigers but this habitat has reduced tremendously due to development-induced land use changes. The tiger has always had a close association Corbett National Park – earlier through the writings of Jim Corbett and other shikaris and later because of the launch of Project Tiger, India’s tiger conservation programme, initiated from the Park’s soil on 1st April 1973. 

Being a carnivore and a master predator, the tiger lies on top of the food pyramid. It keeps the population of ungulates under control and thus maintains the ecological balance. Tigers hunt deer (preferably sambar but also chital and barking deer) and wild boar. They choose the largest of the prey species since larger prey represents more energy for the effort spent. For this reason the sambar population density is believed to be a good indicator of the presence of tigers. Occasionally, tigers will also attack young of elephants and take smaller species, including monkeys, birds, reptiles and fish. Adult tigers are usually solitary, except for females with cubs. However, sometimes several are sometimes seen together. Generally, both female and male tigers maintain home ranges that do not overlap with the home range of another tiger of the same sex. Females have home ranges of approximately 20 sq. km while those of males are much larger, covering 60-100 sq. km. Male home ranges cover the territory of many smaller female home ranges. The male protects his territory and the females within it from competing males.

Among the large cats in India tigers have the greatest reputation as man-eaters. Several legendary man-eating tigers have been known, especially during the terai-bhabar region. Such tigers have been immortalised through the writings of Jim Corbett. For example, the Champawat tiger is said to have killed 434 people before Corbett finally succeeded in killing it. However, in recent times, with the huge decline in the numbers of tigers, attacks on humans have been relatively rare. Man-eating is usually the result of a tiger’s inability to catch usual prey when it is too old to hunt or if it has an injury.

To mark their territories, tigers use several means of advertising this fact. Urine and anal gland secretions are sprayed on trees, bushes and rocks in various places throughout a particular area. They also make claw marks on trunks of trees. Such markings help avoid physical confrontation since any intruders in the territory recognise the owner’s scent and generally keep out.

The Asian Elephant

The elephant, largest of the land mammals, has been an integral part of the history, mythology, tradition, culture and religion of India. There are three surviving species of elephants in the world, one in Asia and two in Africa. The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is distributed in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Unlike the African species, Asian elephants have been domesticated for thousands of years and have been used in medieval warfare, for temples, and as a working animal.

Corbett Tiger Reserve has about 700 Asian elephants. They are part of the migratory population that also lives in Rajaji National Park. Earlier, there were much fewer elephants in Corbett but their population in the park has increased significantly in recent decades. Although, present throughout the Park, elephants are most easily sighted in Dhikala chaur, Phulai chaur, and near the Saddle Dam.

Deer - Corbett has four species of deer. They are the most frequently sighted large mammals in the Park. Chital, the commonest deer of CorbettChital (Axis axis) or Spotted deer is the commonest of deer species of Corbett. It is also the most beautiful, with characteristic white spots on its reddish-brown body. Only male chital have antlers that may grow up to 1 m length. These antlers are periodically shed and a new set developed every time. Chital are most active in early morning and evening and rest in cool places during the heat of the day. They give alarm calls to warn the herd when a potential threat or predator is sensed. Chital are ecologically important because they form an important prey base for carnivores like leopards and tigers. They also help in dispersal of plant seeds including grasses and also tree and shrub species like amla, ber, etc.

Hog deer in chaurPara or Hog Deer (Axis porcinus) is the rarest of Jim Corbett Park’s deer. It is closely related to the chital but is smaller in size. Unlike most other deer, the hog deer is not given to leaping over obstacles but instead, it escapes its predators by crouching low, ducking under obstacles. Its limbs are short and its hind legs are longer than the fore legs. This anatomy raises its rump to a higher level than the shoulders. This species mostly inhabits grasslands, swampy areas and clearings and is usually nocturnal. Unlike chital, hog deer are solitary animals but sometimes feed in small groups. Hog deer face the threat of habitat destruction, especially draining of swampy areas and change in water regimes.

Sambar (Cervus unicolor) is the largest deer found in Corbett. Its body is largely a uniform greyish-brown in colour, except for the creamy white on the backsides and under-tail areas. Males have antlers up to 1 m long that are periodically shed and replaced. Male sambar also has dense manes on their necks. Sambar is the largest deer of CorbettSambar are mostly found in dense forests with a gently sloping to steep topography. They are known to reach altitudes as high as 3,700 m. Sambar browse on leaves, berries, fallen fruit, leaves and tender bark of young trees, and also graze on grasses and sedges. These deer are mostly active solitary but may be found in small groups during the mating season.

Kakar or Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntjak) is the smallest in size among the deers found in Jim Corbett Park. The body colour is golden tan on the dorsal (upper) side and is lighter on the undersides. Male kakar have short antlers growing on long, bony projections called burrs. In place of antlers, females possess only bony knob-like burrs on their head. Males also have tusk-like upper canine teeth curving sharply outwards from the lips. Kakar emit a typical dog-like alarm “bark” when they sense the presence of a predator. Barking may carry on continuously for up to an hour. They are active both during daytime and at night. They are a prey for tigers, leopards, jackals and pythons.

Other mammals

The Leopard (Panthera pardus) is the other large cat found in Corbett. Compared to the tiger leopards are smaller, more graceful and have a long agile body that has rosettes instead of stripes. It also has the ability to limb trees. Leopards are quite versatile, adaptable to a variety of terrains as well as to a broad range of prey that includes everything from insects and rodents up to large ungulates. Leopards mostly hunt during twilight hours and at night. They also ambush their prey by jumping down from trees.

The leopard’s call is termed as ‘saw’. Sawing can be described as a short rasping vocalisation.

When living near populated areas leopards will attack and kill livestock and domestic dogs. Sometimes, they also attack humans. In spite of leopards being highly adaptable, they face many problems in survival. This includes habitat destruction, poaching for their skins, and persecution as killers.

There are two species of primates found in Corbett. The Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) is theThe langurs are excellent climbers commonest monkey of the Indian subcontinent. It lives in a wide range of habitats – from plains to the Himalayas at elevations up to 3000 m – and is quite adaptable to humans. Its body is earthy brown in colour and buttocks are reddish. The Rhesus is quite a lively and vocal animal. It lives in large troupes of up to two hundred individuals. Large dominant males (called alpha males) lead these groups. It is omnivorous, and often eats roots, herbs, fruits, insects, crops, and small animals.

Hanuman or Common Langur (Semnopithecus entellus) has an unmistakable appearance - a light body, dark face and a very long tail. It is considered to be sacred in many parts of India and is found in many environments, from desert edge to forests. Langurs are vegetarian and feed mainly on leaves, buds, flowers, fruit, and seeds. Feeding activity is generally in the early morning and late afternoon. Like monkeys, langurs too live in troupes led by dominant males. In the trees, they are remarkably agile and can make horizontal leaps of 3-5 m.

Himalayan Goral or Ghural (Nemorhaedus goral) is a goat-like animal that occurs in the Himalayas between 1,000 to 4,000 m. It lives in small groups on sparse mountainous slopes and cliff faces with crevices. It is remarkably sure footed and can move at high speeds even over near vertical terrain. Goral are active at dawn and dusk when they come to feed on grasses, leaves, twigs, nuts and fruit. Mostly grey to brown in colour, the goral has a lighter coloured ‘bib’ at the base of the neck and sports short, conical, backward-curving horns having irregular ridges. Goral are well camouflaged, and thus are very difficult to spot, especially when they are still.

Wild boar (Sus scrofa) is the ancestor of the domesticated pig that lives in moist forests and scrub. It has long, curved canine teeth (called tusks) that are used for digging food and as weapons. Wild boar feed on roots, tubers, fruits, shrubs, bird eggs, insects, mice, snakes, frogs and carrion. They usually move in groups both at day and night.

Jackals can be seen near forest rest housesThe Asiatic Jackal (Canis aureus) is a member of the dog family. It is found in open country, short grasslands and has also adapted to living near human settlements.

Gharial and Mugger

Jim Corbett Park is one of the best places to see gharials. Jim Corbett Park has two of India’s three crocodilian species. It is considered to be one of the best spots to see the Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), one of the largest and most endangered crcodilians of the world. It is found only in the Indian subcontinent. It gets its name from the ‘ghara’ or pot like structure on the snout that is present only in males. About 100 gharials live in the Ramganga and can be seen swimming in its deep pools or basking in the sun on its banks. These were released as part of the conservation programme for gharials. Though it has been saved from extinction, the gharial is still critically endangered. The main threats are – loss of habitat (fast-flowing rivers) and nesting sites (sandbanks) due to construction of dams and barrages which changes the flowage of water and exploitation of fish by humans (depletion of prey species).

The still waters of Corbett, especially the Ramganga reservoir, are home to the Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris). Muggers are more general carnivores and take a variety of animals as food. Muggers are also found in Nakatal, Corbett’s only lake.

Mahseer and other Fishes

Corbett is home to many species of freshwater fish. The Ramganga, Palain, Sonanadi and Mandal rivers, provide vital habitat and breeding grounds for them because of moderate temperature, low gradient, presence of deep pools and boulders and gravel on stream beds, and negligible pollution. Fish form a fundamental link in the food chain for many key species like the gharial, otters, fish-eagles, kingfishers, ospreys, storks, fish-owls, egrets, darters and pelicans. The most celebrated of the fishes is the Golden Mahseer (Tor putitora), a large freshwater river fish belonging to the carp family. It has a magnificent appearance – sap green body with bright orange scales. Mahseer is considered to be one of the most prized fish for anglers all over the world.

Clean water, which is increasingly becoming rarer, is the prime habitat requirement for the mahseer. Its population has declined due to loss of habitat. Loss of breeding grounds also poses a threat because mahseer require shallow, clear, well-oxygenated water for spawning, which again is hard to find these days. Decline of mahseer is also due to construction of dams on their migratory routes, obstructing access to favoured spawning areas upstream. The Ramganga is one of the best-preserved rivers for mahseer in India. Other important fish species of Corbett are Goonch (Bagarius bagarius), Indian trout (Barilius bola) and Rohu (Labeo rohita). Sustainable angling, as opposed to intensive fishing, benefits conservation of prized fishes like mahseer. Angling is allowed in certain areas in the buffer region of Corbett after taking permits from the Forest Department.

Crocodile Conservation Project Gharial were reintroduced in Ramganga: The Crocodile Conservation Project was launched in 1976. The main aim of the project was to save India’s three endangered crocodilian species, namely the freshwater crocodile, the saltwater crocodile and the gharial. This involved intervention measures like:

Captive breeding of species

Collection of eggs from natural habitat, subsequent hatching and rearing of crocodiles/gharials in captivity to reduce mortality due to natural predators and finally released into the wild. The Gharial Rehabilitation Project formed a subunit of the umbrella Crocodile Conservation Project. This focussed on gharial, which had come very close to extinction in 1974. As part of the Gharial Rehabilitation Project, more than 250 gharials were released in the Ramganga river in Corbett National Park between 1982 and 1994.

Herpetofauna

There are several species of snake in Jim Corbett Park. Reptiles live in a great variety of habitats. But apart from the gharial and mugger the other reptiles of Corbett have not been studied in great detail. Several species of snakes have been reported from here, including the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) and Indian Cobra (Naja naja). Indian Rock Pythons (Python molurus) are frequently sighted and there also exist several kinds of vipers, kraits and boas.

The Bengal Monitor (Varanus bengalensis) is the most imposing of Jim Corbett Park’s lizards. The list includes nine other species of Agamas, Geckos and Skinks. Amphibians occupy a wide range of niches from forest floor to freshwater swamp, and from urban areas to mountain torrents. As of now, there are seven species of toad and frog occurring in the Park.

It comes out during the night to forage for food. Its omnivorous diet consists of deer fawns, rodents, hares, birds, eggs, reptiles and amphibians and various fruits especially ber and jamun. The jackal is also an opportunistic scavenger, readily raiding garbage bins.

Corbett is one of the few places in India where three species of otter are found existing together. Otters are an important component in the ecology of the Park, especially the Ramganga and its tributaries. Otters are indicators of a healthy river ecosystem. These small carnivores are a part the aquatic food chain and live mostly along riverbanks, spending a lot of their time in water. They make dens among rocks and boulders along perennial streams and rivers. The species of otters occurring in Corbett Park are Eurasian or Common otter (Lutra lutra monticola), Smooth-coated otter (Lutra perspicillata) and Small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinerea). Fish forms the majority of the otters’ diet, except in case of Small-clawed otter, which primarily feeds on insects and other invertebrates.

Otters face threat of elimination of habitat due to construction of dams, intensive fishing, quarrying in rivers for stone and gravel and land use changes for agriculture or prawn cultivation. Poaching in the hilly regions of India for otter skins is also a threat.

To get Corbett wildlife information and to know more about animals at Corbett National Park or to reserve a wildlife safari tour to corbett national park, write email on jimcorbettpark@gmail.com

 
 
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