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Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve

Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR) is the largest tiger reserve in India . The reserve spreads over five districts, Nalgonda District, Mahbubnagar district, Kurnool District, Prakasam District and Guntur District. The total area of the tiger reserve is 3,568 km2 (1,378 sq mi). The core area of this reserve is 1,200 km2 (460 sq mi). The reservoirs and temples of Srisailam are major attraction for many tourists and pilgrims.

This reserve’s elevation varies from 100 m (330 ft) to 917 m (3,009 ft) above mean sea level. Average annual rainfall is 1,000 mm (39 in) The multipurpose reservoirs, Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar, are located in the reserve.

The area consists mostly of the Nallamala Hills but varies from plains to precipitous cliffs. More than 80 per cent of the area is gently rolling to hilly. High hills, deep valleys and gorges are characteristic features. The hill ranges contain number of plateau of which Amrabad, Srisailam, Peddacheruvu, Sivapuram, Nekkanti are noteworthy.

Nagarjunasagar receives rains from the southwest monsoon which is active from second half of June to the end of September. After a dry spell of one month during October, the northeast monsoon becomes active. The wildlife is generally confined to plateaues during monsoon and in valleys during summer.

The perennial water sources are generally located in the valleys and the plateaus suffer from acute scarcity for water during summer. The Krishna river cuts its basin almost 200 m (660 ft) deep over a distance of 130 km (81 mi) through the reserve. There are several waterfalls in the reserve such as the Ethipothala Falls, Pedda Dukudu, Gundam and Chaleswaram.

The Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Sanctuary was notified in 1978 and came under the protection of Project Tiger in 1983. The reserve was renamed as Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in 1992. Before Indian independence in 1947, the southern half of the reserve was under control of the British in India while the northern half was controlled by the rulers of the princely State of Hyderabad, who maintained it as a hunting reserve for royalty and their guests.

In 1983 there were 40 tigers in the reserve. The habitat suffered severely due to high frequency of poaching, grazing, fires and exploitation of trees and bamboo. Improvements in water resources, check dams, artificial troughs, new fire lines, salt licks and better protection has helped restore the habitat. In 1989 the tiger numbers were put at 94 an increase of 130% in 6 years. There was no other census till 1993 due to extremist interference in the area.

The main mammals in the reserve are: Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, sloth bear, Ussuri dhole, Indian pangolin, chital, sambar deer, chevrotain, blackbuck, chinkara and chowsingha. There are also mugger crocodile, Indian python, king cobra and Indian peafowl.

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