Bandhavgarh National Park

Year of compilation: 2004

Site description (baseline)
Bandhavgarh National Park is located in Shahdol district, 195 km from Jabalpur and 210 km from Khajuraho, two major tourist spots. This famous tiger hunting area was once owned by the erstwhile Maharaja of Rewa. It was handed over by him to the Government in 1968, when privy purses and privileges were abolished, and he was unable to look after the forest wealth. Charaching was rampant and the forest lay devastated. Once it came under the control of the Forest Department, Bandhavgarh’s fortune took dramatic turn. It was declared a protected area, and the animal population began to flourish. At that time, the Park covered an area of 10,600 ha, all of which comprised the present day Tala Range (Tyabji 1994). In 1984, the area of the Park was increased to 44,800 ha, with the inclusion of three ranges, namely Kalwa, Magadhi and Khitauli. In 1993, the Park was upgraded to a Tiger Reserve. Bandhavgarh is fortunate in that unlike most of the other parks in India, it is not an isolated and fragmented patch of forest. It forms part of a larger forest block. Apart from the 25,000 ha Panpatha Wildlife Sanctuary that is connected with the Park to the north, there are a number of smaller pockets of protected and reserve forest, interspersed with small agricultural communities (Tyabji 1994). The Park has extensive Sal forest, hills, valleys, rivers, marshes and meadows, resulting in varied floral and faunal diversity. The forest is dominated by Sal Shorea robusta and Bamboo Dendrocalamus strictus. The vegetation of the Park is Tropical Moist Deciduous. There are mixed forests in the higher reaches of the hills. A few rare species, such as the insectivorous plant Drosera peltata, and medicinal plants such as Buch Acorus calamus are found in some isolated patches of the Tala Range of the Reserve.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Bandhavgarh National Park holds about 242 species of birds (Tyabji 1994). Besides the two Critically Endangered Gyps species, the Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus and Sarus Crane Grus antigone are also found. An interesting difference between Kanha and Bandhavgarh (both IBAs in central India) is the almost complete absence of the Long-billed Vulture Gyps indicus in Kanha, while in Bandhavgarh it is just as abundant as the Oriental White-backed Gyps bengalensis. The steep cliffs of Bandhavgarh Hill provide suitable nesting habitats for the Long-billed Vulture. The Sal and Bamboo forests are good for the White-naped Woodpecker Chrysocolaptes festivus, Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus, Red Spurfowl Galloperdix spadicea and Painted Spurfowl G. lunulata (Kazmierczak and Singh 1998). Tyabji (1994) found some interesting Himalayan and Sub- Himalayan bird species such as the Plain-backed Mountain Thrush Zoothera mollissima, Gold-fronted Chloropsis Chloropsis aurifrons, Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus, Dark-grey Bush Chat Saxicola ferrea and Dusky Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus. This proves that these species are more widely distributed and abundant than was believed earlier. In January 2002, Rufous-gorgeted or Orange-gorgeted Flycatcher Ficedula strophiata was seen near a resort close to Bijaria village (D’Cunha, in press). According to Ali and Ripley (1987), and Grimmett et al. (1999), it is an altitudinal migrant and winters in the Himalayan foothills. Till now, there is no record of this species in central India. The Malabar Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros coronatus, a Near Threatened species, is resident in the Western Ghats, East India and Sri Lanka (Grimmett et al. 1999). Regular sightings of this species in Bandhavgarh (Tyabji 1994), sometimes up to 13 individuals, including subadults, indicate that it is more widely distributed in central India than was believed earlier. The Sarus Crane breeds in this area, one chick was seen in July 1989 (Tyabji 1994). The site can be included in Biome-11, (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone). Out of the 59 species listed by BirdLife International (undated) for Biome-11, 32 are found in this IBA.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The Bandhavgarh National Park is the place where the famous White Tigers of Rewa were discovered. The last known capture of a white tiger was in 1951. Bandhavgarh is densely populated with other animal species too. The faunal assemblage constitutes typical central Indian species.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: Poaching; Livestock grazing; Human habitation in near the site; Forest fires and firewood collection.

Excess grazing pressure in buffer areas is a major problem. There are about 7,000 heads of cattle in 14 villages located inside the Reserve. Besides this, about 50,000 cattle from the surrounding villages put a lot of pressure on the Reserve. Charaching of wild animals, which come out of the core area, regularly takes place. Targeted poaching of animals such as the Tiger and Leopard is regularly reported in the media. A number of local tribes such as Bahelia and Paradhi, and local anti-social elements having connections with national and international smugglers pose a major threat. The management has to address this issue adequately and effectively. Crop damage by herbivores and cattle lifting by large carnivores creates enmity between the local agriculturists and the Park authorities. This can be tackled with proper management of the buffer zone, and timely compensation for crop/livestock damage.

Key contributor: The IBA Team.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Bandhavgarh National Park. Downloaded from on 03/06/2023.