Ranthambhore National Park

Ranthambhore National Park, set against the backdrop of the historic 1000-year-old Ranthambhore Fort, lies in the area where the ancient ranges of the Vindhyas' flat-topped hills merge with the sharp ridges of the Aravallis. The forests around the historic fort were once the hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur. It was this desire to preserve wild game for sport that gave the area some protection and by 1972 Ranthambhore was one of the nine core zones under Project Tiger.

Ranthambhore uniqueness lies in its man-made lakes and ancient reservoirs, which have merged into the natural system as vital sources of water. Tigers often chase their prey into the lakes in broad daylight and have been often known to take on crocodiles. It is such intrepidness, which some ascribe to their martial Rajput environment, that makes Ranthambhore a good place to photograph tigers. The scenic Padam Talao, Malik Talao and Raj Bagh, with the spectacular fort in the background, are images that get permanently etched onto your mind.

The tracks follow the general lay of the land taking you through the largest expanse of dry deciduous forest in the world. At Ranthambhore, park safari affords a glimpse of the ruins of mosques, tombs, watchtowers and palaces scattered within the park. Ranthambhore also has a large population of panthers, the second largest predators of the forest. Marsh Crocodiles abound in the lakes and the Gangetic Dolphin and Gharial can sometimes be spotted in the Chambal River, which forms a natural boundary for the park towards the east.

One of the finest places to observe tigers in the wild, Ranthambhore also has a host of other predators such as the Caracal, Leopard, Sloth Bear and Jungle Cat. The prey species include Sambar, Chital, Nilgai, Chinkara and the Wild Boar. The protected Blackbuck can be seen in fields close to the reserve. Scavengers like Striped Hyena, Jackal, Mongoose and the Common Fox are also seen here. The Common Langur surely lives up to its name.

Of the 330 species of birds reported at Ranthambhore, the prominent ones are Variable Wheatear, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Rufus-tailed Shrike, Sirkeer Malkhoa, Painted Spurfowl, Blue-breasted Quail and Rain Quail. Raptors include Lesser Spotted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Changeable Hawk Eagle and owls such as the Brown Fish Owl and Collared Scops Owl. In the areas adjoining the park, one can spot the Greater Flamingo, Demoiselle Crane, Kentish Plover, Yellow Wattled Lapwing, Brown-headed Gull, Ruff and the Indian Courser.

The vegetation is typically dry deciduous forest and moderate to scanty undergrowth in flat valleys. Ranthambhore has a rich faunal assemblage and the sparse vegetation allows opportunities for good game viewing.

Fact sheet:

State: Rajasthan
Area: 1334 sq. km (Combining Core and buffer forest)
Altitude: 215 to 505 m above mean sea level
Vegetation: Dry deciduous forest
Water resources: Chambal river, Lakes and Reservoirs
Winter: November to February
Summer: March to June
Monsoon: July to September
Rainfall: 800 mm
Temperature: Min 2°C - Max 45°C

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