The Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to famous one horned Rhino and many other varied and endangered willife species has bagged the status of a “national park”.
Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at the foothills of Eastern Himalayas in Alipurduar Sub-Division of Jalpaiguri District in West Bengal. The river Torsha flows through this rain forest sanctuary and have an area of 141 Sq.km and altitude of 61 m. Jaldapara, the vast grassland with patches of riverine forests was declared a sanctuary in 1941 for protection of the great variety flora and fauna, particularly the one-horned rhinoceros, an animal threatened with extinction. The Jaldapara Sanctuary covers 216 sq km, is a mosaic of woods, grasslands, perennial streams, sandy river banks and extensive belts of tall grass. It contains a great diversity of flora and fauna of mixed deciduous forest, grasslands and river banks. The Malangi River also flows nearby from east to west. Drained by rivers Torsa, Malangi, Hollong, Chirakhawa, Kalijhora, Sissamara, Bhaluka and Buri Torsa, the Sanctuary provides extensive grassland which is last refuge to a wide variety of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds.
Asiatic one horned Rhino: Jaldapara is known for its Rhino population. There are only a few areas where this elusive beauty can be found. Apart from Kaziranga and Pobitara in Assam, Jaldapara in West Bengal is being the safe home for this wonderful species since long. The grass wetland, ideal for Rhino's provides them natural habitat for their strong survival.
Flora and Fauna: The forest is mainly savannah covered with tall elephant grasses. The main attraction of the sanctuary is Asiatic one-horned rhinoceros. The sanctuary holds the maximum number of rhinos population in India after Kaziranga National Park in Assam. The other animals consists of Royal Bengal Tigers, elephants, deers, sambhar, barking deer, spotted deer and hog deer, wild pig, bisons. The wild life, in addition to the famous Great Indian One Horned rhinos, consists of Royal Bengal Tigers, wild elephants, deers, swamp deers, hog deers, wild pigs, bisons. Some rare species like the hispid hare and the hog-badger are also found here. Besides wildlife viewing, there is scope for unusual holiday activities like elephant riding and leisurely strolls through the towering grass.
Jaldapara is a paradise for bird watchers. It is one of the very few places in India, where the Bengal Florican is sighted. The other birds to be found here are the Crested Eagle, Pallas’s Fishing Eagle and shikra, besides Jungle fowl, peafowl, patridges, Bengal Florican and lesser Pied Hornbill. Python, monitor lizards, kraits, cobras, geckos and about 8 species of fresh water turtles have also found sanctuary here. Many of the animals are endangered like – the Asiatic one-horned rhino and elephants in Jaldapara sanctuary.
A thrilling elephant safari is organized in the early morning from Hollong to offer the exquisite beauty of the vast grassland of Jaldapara. The elephant ride is the best possible way to explore the sanctuary with the rare sight of Indian rhinos and Asiatic elephants. The jeep safari inside the sanctuary is another main attraction.
Birdwatching at Jaldapara: Set out with a binocular and see the majestic flight of Hornbill, Racket-Tailed Drongo and Asian Paradise Fycatcher. See the splendors of sun set beyond the vast grassland of Jaldapara from you Bungalow deck. Jaldapara is exceptionally rich in avifauna because of varied terrain, mosaic of vegetation and rich insect life. More than 240 species of birds are found in variety of habitat- Grassland, water bodies, woodland. The varied tree forests and rich shrub growth on the forest floor provide ideal setting for many woodland birds, such as Green Pigeons, Hornbills, Barbets, Parakeets, Woodpeckers, Cuckoos, Orioles, Drongos, Babblers, Thrushes etc. Brahminy ducks, whistling teals and Goosanders are winter visitors. The most common water birds are the large and little cormorant, Indian Shag, Darter, Egrets, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Pied Wagtail, Spur Winged Lapwing, Moorhen, White Breasted Waterhen etc. The night hunters in Jaldapara are the owls and the nightjars.
The varied tree forests and rich shrub growth on the forest floor provide ideal setting for many woodland birds, such as Green Pigeons, Hornbills, Barbets, Parakeets, Woodpeckers, Cuckoos, Orioles, Drongos, Babblers, Thrushes etc. Brahminy ducks, Whistling Teals and Merganser are winter visitors. The most common birds are the large and little Cormorant, Indian Shag, Darter, Egret, Pied Wagtail, River Lapwing, Moorhen, White Breasted Waterhen etc.
The hunters in Jaldapara are the Owls and Nightjars. Crested serpent Eagle is common raptorial bird. The other main birds of prey are Pallas’s Fishing Eagle, Pied Harrier, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrow Hawk etc.
A variety of birds, typical of grassland and open country, can be seen from watchtowers viz. Doves, Bee-eaters, Rollers, Hoopoe, Shrikes, Larks, Hill Mynas, Bulbuls, Finches. Call of the Red jungle fowl is as common as the musical sound of crickets. Bengal Florican, Black partridge, Shaheen Falcon, Great Pied Hornbills, Forest Eagle Owl, Large Green billed Malkoha and White Rumped Vulture, Lesser Adjutant Stork are the endangered bird species found in the Sanctuary. Some fortunate visitors can see the Peacock displaying his full array of feathers during the breeding season.