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Sariska Tiger Reserve, situated in the Aravali Hills, is located in the district of Alwar, in the semi-arid western part of Rajasthan. The tract is mainly hilly and undulating and has numerous narrow valleys, two large plateaux Kiraska and Kankwari, and two lakes Manasarovar and Somasagar. Siliserh Lake is situated along the northeastern boundary of the Reserve. The total area of the Reserve is 80,000 ha, of which 30,220 ha is the buffer zone and 49,780 ha is the core area. The Reserve was created in 1978. The ancient Kankwari Fort is situated in the centre of the Reserve. Archaeological treasures, Neelkanth and Garh Rajor dating 9th and 10th centuries respectively, are the ruins of Shiva and Jain temples. According to Champion and Seth (1968), the vegetation of Sariska is classified as Tropical Dry Deciduous and Tropical Thorn Forest. Dhok Anogeissus pendula is the dominant tree species covering 90% of the forest area. Boswellia serreta and Lannea coromandelica grow on rocky patches. Acacia catechu and Bamboo Bambussa arunduceae are common in the valleys; Butea monosperma and Zizyphus sp. are also found.
AVIFAUNA: More than 210 species have been recorded here: 120 resident, 73 migrant visitors and 18 vagrants (Sankar et al. 1993). The site lies in Biome-11 (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone). According to BirdLife International (undated), 59 bird species can be considered as representative of this biome. This biome includes a wide range of habitats including both forests and open country. The Aravali chain of mountains is largely denuded, except in places such as Sariska. Some of the best examples of Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest are found in Sariska. 27 out of the 59 bird species of this biome have been reported. This list is too long to be included here. Most are quite common, and also found in man-modified habitat. The most interesting species include Painted Spurfowl Galloperdix lunulata that has not been recorded from arid and semi-arid tracts of Rajasthan (Shankar et al. 1993). The Aravalli subspecies of Red Spurfowl Galloperdix spadicea caurina, endemic to the Aravali hill range, is also found in a few localities. There are three lakes: Manasarovar and Somasagar and Siliserh, which attract large numbers of waterbirds, including some Near Threatened ones also. Although, Sariska holds six globally threatened species, none of them have significant populations in this area, except perhaps Sarus Crane which breeds in small numbers in the surrounding fields. The two Gyps species of vultures are found but Sariska does not have significant breeding populations of these vultures. The remaining three species (Dalmatian Pelican, Greater Spotted Eagle and Imperial Eagle) are migratory and found in small numbers in this IBA. Five Near Threatened species have been recorded but not in significant numbers. Therefore, Sariska, as such, is not important for the survival of any globally threatened species (as listed in BirdLife International 2001) but it has perhaps the best representative of the original Tropical Dry Deciduous and Thorn Forests of the northern part of the Aravali hill ranges (another good tract is seen around Ranthambore NP, an IBA). Sariska is mainly classified as an IBA on the basis of Biome-11 bird assemblages.
OTHER KEY FAUNA: Beside the Tiger Panthera tigris, for which Sariska is famous, Leopard P. pardus, Caracal Felis caracal, Rusty Spotted Cat Prionailurus rubiginosus, Jungle Cat Felis chaus, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Spotted Deer Axis axis, Wild Boar Sus scrofa, Bluebul Boselaphus tragocamelus, Golden Jackal Canis aureus and Hyena Hyaena hyaena are found. Among reptiles, Indian Rock Python Python molurus and Monitor Lizard Varanus bengalensis are common.
Key contributors: K. Shankar and Ghazala Shahabuddin.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sariska Tiger Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 17/01/2022.