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Pench Tiger Reserve is named after the Pench river, which flows from north to south through the Reserve. The Reserve is located in the southern reaches of the Satpura hills in the Seoni and Chhindwara districts in Madhya Pradesh, and continues in Nagpur district in Maharashtra as a separate Sanctuary. The terrain is undulating, with most of the area covered by small hills and steep slopes on the sides. Pench is located in an area of Central India that holds a significant place in the natural history of India. The description of its richness in fauna and flora and its natural beauty has been recorded in numerous books dating back to the 17th century. Pench Tiger Reserve was created in 1992, becoming the 19th Reserve in the Project Tiger network (Jain 2001). The core zone of the Reserve, Pench National Park was created in 1983. This was carved out of the Pench Sanctuary created in 1977 with an area of 44,939 ha. The area of the Park is 29,285 ha, which is divided almost equally among two districts-14,536 ha in Seoni and 14,728 ha in Chhindwara. The area is criss-crossed by numerous seasonal streams and nullahs. The Pench river which flows through the center of the Reserve is dry by the end of April, but a number of pools, locally known as dohs, remain which serve as waterholes for the wildlife. A few perennial springs also exist in this area. The Pench reservoir at the centre of the Reserve is the only major water source during the summer period. Pench Tiger Reserve of Madhya Pradesh adjoins Pench Wildlife Sanctuary of Maharashtra (both considered separate IBAs for administrative reasons). One village is situated within the Reserve and nine are located on its periphery. The core area of the Reserve lies about 7 km away from the Nagpur-Jabalpur National Highway. The proximity of the Reserve to Nagpur city attracts several tourists to the area. On an average, 100,000 tourists visit this area every year. The main forest type of the area is Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest. The understorey trees include Emblica officinalis, Acacia catechu, and Chloroxylon swietenia. Bamboo Dendrocalamus strictus occurs sparsely, and is restricted to some valleys. There are almost pure patches of Cliestanthus collinus and Terminalia alata at several places. Thick stands of lantana can be seen in areas with low-density forests near habitation (Dwivedi 2003).
AVIFAUNA: About 269 species of birds have been identified from this IBA site between February 1996 and July 2000 (Pasha et al. unpublished). The Pench reservoir, spread over 5,000 ha, is a major attraction to migratory waterfowl, and the dead trees scattered amidst the reservoir are good nesting sites for cormorants, egrets, herons and storks. White-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus, Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala, Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans, White Ibis or Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus and Purple Heron Ardea purpurea are some of the birds that breed around the reservoir. As the reservoir touches the forest and does not have low-lying shallow areas, small waders are not common. Since fishing was totally prohibited, the number of waterfowl has increased dramatically, both as breeding and wintering birds. According to R. N. Saxena (pers. comm. 2003), more than 2,000 Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger were found nesting in 2001- 2002. Some of the interesting bird records of Pasha et al. (unpublished) are regular sightings of Pied Harrier Circus melanoleucos every year since 1996; upto ten pairs of Malabar Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros coronatus; and a male Rosy Minivet Pericrocotus roseus. The Malabar Pied Hornbill is found mainly in the Western Ghats and east India, while the Rosy Minivet is a bird of the Himalayas and northeast India, wintering mainly in northeast and eastern India (Grimmett et al. 1999). Their presence in Pench indicates that they have a wider distribution than known earlier. Besides the six globally threatened species found in this IBA, Pench TR has been selected as an IBA on A3 (Biome-11: Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone) criteria also. Pench has the typical forest type and bird assemblages of central India. The BirdLife International (undated) has identified 59 species in Biome-11. In Pench, 29 have been seen till now (Pasha et al. unpublished). Probably more occur here. The list is too long to be included here.
OTHER KEY FAUNA: Pench has most of the mammals of central Indian forests, such as the Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard P. pardus, Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus, Chinese Pangolin Manis pentadactyla, Chital Axis axis, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Blue bull or Nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus, Wild Boar Sus scrofa, and Gaur Bos frontalis. Jungle Cat Felis chaus, Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis, Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena, Wild Dog Cuon alpinus, and Common Mongoose Herpestes edwardsi are the smaller carnivores. The Freshwater Crocodile Crocodylus palustris is found in the reservoir.
Key contributors: Khalid Pasha and R. N. Saxena.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Pench Tiger Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/12/2021.