Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary
The Ratapani Tiger Reserve, located in the Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh, in Vindhya Range in central India, is one of the finest teak forests in the state and is less than 50 km. away from the capital Bhopal.
It has been a wildlife sanctuary since 1976. As of March 2013, in principle approval by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has been granted for upgrading it to a status of tiger reserve. It will become a tiger reserve by the notification of the Government of Madhya Pradesh. Its close proximity to the capital and its relatively untouched forests makes it a promising attraction for tourists and the Madhya Pradesh tourism board plans to make it a wildlife destination in the near future. The reserve is rich in flora and fauna and a wide variety of birds, mammals and reptiles call it their home.
The total forest area is around 823.84 sq. km. and The landscape is undulating, with hills, plateaux, valleys and plains. A number of seasonal streams irrigate the site in the monsoon, and water is retained in some pools along these streams even in the summer. Two large reservoirs, namely Barna Reservoir and Ratapani Dam (Barrusot lake) are among the major waterbodies adjacent to or inside the sanctuary.
The forest of Ratapani is dry deciduous and moist deciduous type, with teak (Tectona grandis) as the main tree species. About 55% of the area is covered by teak. The remaining mixed forests consist of various dry deciduous species. Bamboo (Dendrocalamus strictus) overlaps the two aforementioned forest types and covers about one quarter of the forest area.
Bhimbetka rock shelters, are located within this tiger reserve. These rock shelters were inhabited by man hundreds of thousand years ago and some of the rock paintings of the Stone Age are more than 30,000 years old. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The tourist places include Bhimbetka, Delawari, Ginnorhgarh Fort, Ratapani Dam, KairiMahadeo and Kherbana Mandir.
A large variety of wildlife is found in the wildlife sanctuary. Some precipitous hills have cliffs; have large rock blocks and talus at the base. This unique feature provides shelter to various animals like vultures, reptiles and small mammals.
Carnivores are the tiger, panther, wild dogs, hyena, jackal and fox and the herbivores include chital, sambhar, blue bull, four horned antelope, languor, rhesus monkey and wild boar. The omnivorous bear is also seen often. Smaller animals, like squirrels, mongooses, gerbils, porcupines, hares, etc. are of common occurrence. Among reptiles, important species include different kinds of lizards, chameleon, snakes, etc. Among snakes, cobra, python, viper, krait, etc. are common. More than 150 species of birds are seen here. A few to mention are the common babbler, crimson breasted barbet, bulbul, bee-eater, baya, cuckoo, kingfisher, kite, lark, Bengal vulture, sunbird, white wagtail, crow pheasant, jungle crow, egrets, myna, jungle fowl, parakeets, partridges, hoopoe, quails, woodpeckers, blue jay, dove, black drongo, flycatcher, flower pecker and rock pigeon.
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