IN319
Gorumara National Park


Year of compilation: 2004

Site description
Gorumara has been under protection since 1895, when it was declared a Reserve Forest under the Indian Forest Act (VII of 1878). It became a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1949, and was finally elevated to National Park status in 1994. However, the final notification procedure is still not complete. Gorumara is located in the flood plains of Murti and Jaldhaka rivers in the Duars region, a terai habitat of Jalpaiguri district. There are many rivulets that have created wet grasslands, ideal for the One-horned Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis, for which this area was protected for more than 100 years. In 1996, 16 individuals were present in Gorumara (Pratihar and Chakraborty 1996). The vegetation of Gorumara can be classified into four main types: Moist Deciduous and Dry Deciduous forests, Semi-evergreen forest, Riverine Forest and Savannah Forest. Nearly 326 species of plants have been identified, including 158 species of trees and 32 grasses (Anon. 1998). The core area of the Park contains dense mixed forest with thick undergrowth and is mainly composed of tall trees such as Shorea robusta, Tectona grandis, Bombax ceiba, Amoora wallichi, Dalbergia sissoo, Sterculia villosa and Ficus bengalensis (Pratihar and Chakraborty 1996). An interesting grass species is Citronella, which adds the fragrance of citrus fruit to the air, wherever it occurs in the Park.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Gorumara has rich bird diversity but unfortunately, no systematic work has been done here. The Management Plan of Gorumara, prepared by the Wildlife Circle, State Forest Department (Anon. 1998) lists 193 species, including many Red Data Book species. Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis, a globally threatened species found from the Himalaya foothills to 1,800 m (Ali and Ripley 1987) is also listed. Based on the information gathered during IBA workshops in West Bengal, nine species belonging to threatened category (Critically Endangered and Vulnerable) and five species belonging to Near Threatened category of BirdLife International (2001) are found at this site. The Endangered Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis is not seen in recent year but some grasslands maintained for the One-horned Rhinoceros could be suitable for this bird. A small portion of this IBA falls in Eastern Himalayas (Endemic Bird Area 130) in which 21 restricted range species are listed. Only one species, the Snowy-throated Babbler Stachyris oglei has been identified till now, but more are likely to be found once detailed investigations are done. As most of Gorumara is plain, the site also lies in Assam Plains Endemic Bird Area (EBA 131) of Stattersfield et al. (1998). In this EBA, three bird species are listed, out of which Black-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis flavirostris is found.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: In addition to the Rhinoceros, Gorumara is known for its megamammalian fauna such as the Asiatic Elephant Elephas maximus, Gaur Bos frontalis, Tiger Panthera tigris, and Leopard P. pardus.

According to the Management Plan of Gorumara National Park of the Wildlife Circle, West Bengal Forest Department, 48 species of mammals have been identified till now (Anon. 1998). Pratihar and Chakraborty (1996) have listed 43 mammal species, including the Malayan Giant Squirrel Ratufa bicolor gigantea and the highly-endangered Hispid Hare Caprolagus hispidus.

However, Maheswaran (2002) found no evidence of Hispid Hare in Gorumara National Park. Chital or Spotted Deer Axis axis is also reported by the Forest Department, but Pratihar and Chakraborty (1996) could not find it.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: Poaching; Firewood collection; Burning; Grazing; Expansion of road and railway line.

Charaching of Rhinoceros for its ‘horn’ is the major threat in this Park. Till now, according to official records, there has been no incident of Rhinoceros poaching, but the threat is always there. Charaching of Wild Boar Sus scrofa is common on the fringes of the Park. There are 13 revenue villages, four forest villages and five tea estates just outside the Park. They exert tremendous anthropogenic pressure on the forest resources. The village cattle graze on the fringes, and are sometimes killed by Tiger or Leopard, creating resentment against the Park. Villages on the periphery depend on the Park for fuel wood and fodder. Since the establishment of the Park, forestry operations have been stopped, resulting in decrease in employment opportunities. Such socioeconomic problems must be addressed to save the Park and do justice to the villagers as well. A national highway passes through the Park. There is a plan to widen it into an eight lane road. The Indian Railway plans to convert the existing metre-gauge track between Siliguri and Guwahati into broad-gauge, and also increase the frequency of trains. This would also affect the Park adversely.

Acknowledgements
Key contributor: IBA Team.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Gorumara National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/11/2022.