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Jim Corbett National Park was named after the hunter who later turned to a naturalist and wildlife conservator Jim Corbett. He played a key role in the establishment of this oldest national park of India in 1936 as Hailey National Park. It is located in Nainital district of Uttarakhand or Uttaranchal Pradesh State of India. It was one of the most important natural sanctuaries chosen for the Indian wildlife protection initiative called Project Tiger in 1974. This natural park is situated in the sub-Himalayan ranges south of Nepal. Some parts of the park were part of the princely state of Tehri Garhwal in British colonial period. In return for the assistance in its fight against the Gorkha invaders, the Raja of Tehri Garhwal formally ceded a part of his princely state to the British East India Company. The Boksa tribe of Terai settled in this region and began cultivating land but they were evicted by the British in 1860. The British forest department controlled the park area and prohibited the use of its land for cultivation and for cattle farms. The colonial British administration considered the possibility of declaring this area as a game preserve as early as 1907. The Hailey National Park covered an area 125 square miles or 323.75 square kilometers in 1936. During 1954/1955 this park was renamed as Ramganga National Park and finally one year later it was given its present name of Jim Corbett National Park. No hunting is allowed within the National Park parameters but limited timber cutting is allowed strictly for domestic purpose only. Under an elected administration during the British rule in 1930s the park was quite successful in preserving the natural environment and protecting the wildlife in this park. During the Second World War however there was a setback when excessive poaching and timber cutting took place within the park limits.
Since its establishment the area of this national park has progressively increased. An additional 797.72 square kilometers or 308 square miles of land was added by creating a series of buffer zones in 1991. The whole of Kalagarh Forest Division with an area of 301.18 square kilometers or 116.29 square miles including the Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary was incorporated into Jim Corbett National Park by creating a buffer zone. The administrative headquarters of this natural preserve are located in Nainital. The World Wildlife Fund under their Terai Arc Landscape Program chose this park as one its 13 protected areas in India. This program aims to protect three main species – the Indian Tiger, Asian Elephant and the great one horned Rhinoceros by restoring and creating forest corridors linking 13 protected areas in India and bordering Nepal. This enables the migration of these and other wildlife in this region.
The average altitude of the region ranges between 360 meters or 1,181 feet and 1, 040 meters or 3,412 feet above sea-level. There are many ravines, ridges, minor streams and small plateaus with varying degrees of slopes in this park. The Patli Dun Valley around Ramganga River is the lifeline for wildlife within this park.
It contains about 488 different species of plants and a vast variety of fauna within its protected area. More than 585 species of resident and migratory birds have been sighted and categorized. These include crested serpent eagles, blossom headed parakeet and red jungle fowl that is believed to be the ancestor of domestic fowl. There are 33 species of reptiles, 7 species of amphibians, 37 species of dragonflies and 7 species of fish that have researched and recorded in this national park.
The Jim Corbett National Park is not an ideal place to view the illusive Indian Bengal tiger because of tall grass and shrubs that make it easy of camouflage and hide. Nonetheless the park has been very successful in preserving the Indian tiger according to experts in the field. The tigers in this park have been occasionally able to kill much larger animals like the dangerous wild buffalo and rarely even an elephant for food. This happens very rarely because there is abundant food among the usual pray of the tiger in this park. When they do attack a larger animal than themselves they are always in a pack. The boars in Corbett National Park weigh up to 200 pounds and sometimes are able to kill a tiger. The park has enough space for the tigers and there is a buffer zone also. Rarely when desperate for food the tigers go out and attack domestic animals in peripheral villages when there is a shortage of food because of climatic conditions.
The hilly areas of the park are the favorite ground for leopards but sometimes they have been sighted in the low land forests in the park also. There are other smaller felines in this sanctuary like the jungle cat, fishing cat, leopard cat. Among other mammals there are 5 varieties of deer – barking deer, sambhar deer, hog deer, black buck and chital (spotted) deer. Sloth as well as Himalayan black bears, Indian gray mongoose, otters, ghorals goat antelopes, Indian pangolins, langoor (black faced monkeys with long tails) and rhesus monkeys with red faces are some of the other mammals in this reserved forest. Yellow throated martens, owls and nightjars are often heard in the nighttime. In summer large herds of several hundred elephants can be sighted in the park. The Indian python in this sanctuary is especially dangerous. It can even kill a large animal like chital spotted deer. Crocodiles were facing extinction in the park and the program of captive breeding has been quite successful and after they are old enough to live in nature they are released into the Ramganga River.
The guides in the park are especially trained for developing ecotourism. The first guide course that included natural history, visitor management and park interpretation was offered in 1993. It was followed by another course in 1995 to recruit more guide who are qualified and trained. The government is also organizing workshops in ecotourism for the local citizens living in the peripheral areas of the park so that they can legitimately profit from tourism and have a vested interest in protecting the wild animals in the park.
Although it is relatively hot, April to June period is considered to be the best season for Indian tourists and those foreign tourist who do not mind the heat. For others the next best time of the year is November to January. The best chance to spot a tiger in the wild habitat is in the late dry season in April to June and go out on the elephants with mahouts for at least 3 to 4 days.
The construction of a dam on the Kalagarh River has had both negative and positive consequences. It has definitely reduced the population of swamp deer and hog deer but on the other hand the newly formed reservoir created by submerging of the land has increased the aquatic fauna and provided additional attraction for winter migratory birds.
The population of two villages on the southern border of the park was moved to Firozpur-Manpur area on Ramnagar Kashipur Highway between 1990 to 1993. These vacated areas were designated as buffer zones. This project has been very successful and there are visible signs of ecological recovery in this new park region. The new growth of vines, herbs, grasses and small trees has created natural ecological region that the lush greenery in this part has been attracting grass eating animals like deer and elephants that have gradually migrated and have even preferred to remain in this area during the monsoon season.
The menace of poaching has been drastically reduced in the Jim Corbett National Park. In 1988 to 1989 period there were 109 cases of poaching but this figure came down to only 12 cases in the period between 1997 and 1998. Poaching is very rare in the Jim Corbett National Park now.
To protect wild animals and the domestic cattle as well as rural people in peripheral regions on the southern border of the Sanctuary, the Indian government has built a 7.5 miles or 12 kilometers long masonry wall. This has eliminated the cases of tigers and leopard killing cattle despite the growth in population of these villages.
Solluna Resorts - 47 cottages
Riverview Retreat - 54 rooms
WelcomHeritage Corbett Ramganga Resort - 30 rooms
Corbett Hideaway Resort - 52 rooms
Jims Jungle Retreat, Village – Dhela, Ramnagar (Nainital), Ramnagar 244715, India – 15 rooms
Namah Resort - 48 rooms
Aahana the Corbett Wilderness Resort - 42 rooms
The Golden Tusk Retreat - 36 rooms
Corbett Tusker Trail Resort - 52 rooms
Le Roi Health Resort - 36 rooms
Infinity Resorts, PO Dhikuli, Via Ramnagar, District Nainital, Ramnagar 244715, India, on the periphery of Corbett Tiger Reserve near River Kosi, 7 kilometers from Ramnagar. – 32 rooms
Quality Inn Corbett Jungle Resort, Kumeria Reserve Forest, Mohan, Almora, Ramnagar 244 715, India - Wildlife Resort in Kumeria Reserve Forest, 12 km from entrance to Corbett National Park. – 16 rooms
Corbett Riverside Resort, Garjia, Corbett National Park, Ramnagar 244715, India on the banks of River Kosi – 21 rooms.
Distances from Corbett National Park in Kilometers and Miles:
Ramnagar (nearest train station): 51 Kilometers or Miles
Nainital via Kaladhungi: 60 Kilometers or Miles
Pantnagar airport: 80 Kilometers or Miles
New Delhi: 300 Kilometers or Miles
Lucknow: 145 Kilometers or Miles