Just the name – ‘Kaziranga’ and we picture elephant safaris, tiger sightings and a view of the one horned rhinoceros amidst the lush background of foliage. The images portrayed on online platforms, paint a surreal escapade with wild elements to expect, and it is truly so. Kaziranga contains significant breeding populations of 35 mammalian species. The park has the distinction of being home to the world’s largest population of the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros (1,855), wild Asiatic water buffalo (1,666) and eastern swamp deer (468). Significant populations of large herbivores include elephants (1,940), gaur (30) and sambar (58). Small herbivores include the Indian muntjac, wild boar, and hog deer. Kaziranga has the largest population of the Wild water buffalo anywhere accounting for about 57% of the world population. The One-Horned rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tiger, Asian elephant, wild water buffalo and swamp deer are collectively known as ‘Big Five’ of Kaziranga.
Situated in the Brahmaputra Valley floodplain, Kaziranga consists of alluvial inundated grasslands, tropical wet evergreen forests and tropical semi-evergreen forests. Naturally, besides other mammals it’s also a haven for birds of all kinds of feather. Presently, recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International for the conservation of avifaunal species – Ideal for birdwatchers. Birds such as the lesser white-fronted goose, ferruginous duck, Baer’s pochard duck and lesser adjutant, greater adjutant, black-necked stork, and Asian openbill stork migrate from Central Asia to the park during winter. Riverine birds include the Blyth’s kingfisher, white-bellied heron, Dalmatian pelican, spot-billed pelican, Nordmann’s greenshank, and black-bellied tern. Birds of prey include the rare eastern imperial, greater spotted, white-tailed, Pallas’s fish eagle, grey-headed fish eagle, and the lesser kestrel.
Once at the park, opt for Jeep Safari or Elephant Safaris to experience the natural exquisiteness the wilderness has to offer. Be it to fulfill the desire to the notice the one-horned rhinoceros, watch birds and other animals, or simply to enjoy the habitat, Kaziranga is best to visit between the period of November to April as the park closes for security reasons during the Monsoons.
When planning an outdoor adventure amidst the tranquil lush habitat, experience pristine nature at the Nameri National Park, lying across the Brahmaputra River, located in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, about 89.4 kms away from Kaziranga National Park and just 12.9km from Wild Mahseer. Straddled in the northern border between Assam and sharing the Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary of Arunachal Pradesh. Declared a National Park in 1998, it covers about 200 km ranging an array of flora and fauna wealth, making it the richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life in the world. It is home to more than 300 species of birds including four species of hornbills and an abundance of mynas, bee eaters, barbets, babblers, bulbuls, plovers and ibis. This forest has over 600 species of Flora.
Nameri is also declared as Tiger Reserve in the year 1999-2000, which is the 2nd Tiger reserve of Assam after Manas Tiger Reserve. Its lush green forests and wetlands with the clear waters is home to herds of elephants, as well as home to some of the endangered species like white winged wood duck, Sloth Bear, Tiger Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Sambar, Gaur, Indian Wild Dog, four varieties of Hornbill and an ideal habitat for a host of other animals including the leopard, Hog Deer, dhole (the Asiatic wild dog), leopard cat, Barking Deer ,wild boar, sloth bear, Marbled Cat, Himalayan black bear, capped langur and Indian giant squirrel. Imagine an encounter with any of the listed wildlife creatures in their natural form and habitat, wouldn’t that be a remarkable experience to behold?
The best time of the year to visit the Nameri National Park is from November to April.
Situated on the Manas River to the northwest of Assam on the border with Bhutan and in the foothills of the Himalayas, is Manas National Park, an 8-hour drive from Wild Mahseer. It was declared a sanctuary in 1928, designated a World Heritage site in 1985 and is one of nine tiger reserve sanctuaries in India. The park embodies a combination of scenic beauty and a rare wealth of wildlife having the world’s remaining population of less than 150 pygmy hogs and the last golden langurs living on an island in the middle of the Manas River.
Covering 519.77 sq kms (it extends into Bhutan for a further 500 sq kms) it has a core area of 360 kms and its own peculiar faunal features. Manas is famous for its population of the wild water buffalo. Other rare species found there are tiger, the hispid hare, capped langurs, the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, Asiatic buffalo, Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur and pygmy hog. Commonly seen animals are wild elephant, gaur, leopard, clouded leopard, Himalayan bear, wild boar, sambar, swamp deer and hog deer. A total of 543 plants species have been recorded from the core zone. The sanctuary has recorded 55 species of mammals, 380 species of birds, 50 of reptiles, and 3 species of amphibians. Out of these wildlife, 21 mammals are India’s Schedule I mammals and 31 of them are threatened.
The Manas hosts more than 450 species of birds. It has the largest population of the endangered Bengal florican to be found anywhere. Other major bird species include great hornbills, jungle fowls, bulbuls, brahminy ducks, kalij pheasants, egrets, pelicans, fishing eagles, crested serpent-eagles, falcons, scarlet minivets, bee-eaters, magpie robins, pied hornbills, grey hornbills, mergansers, harriers, Indian Peafowl, ospreys and herons. Manas was originally a game reserve since 1928 and became a Tiger Reserve in 1974, a World Heritage Site in 1985, a Biosphere Reserve in 1989. Then declared as a National Park in 1990 with an area of 500 sq. kms and also the core area of 2600 sq. kms of Chirang Ripu Elephant Reserve.
Covering approximately 79 sq kms and located on the north bank of the Brahmaputra River in the Darrang and Sonitpur districts of Assam, Orang National Park is a 2-hour drive from Wild Mahseer. It is one of the smaller sanctuaries in Assam. Established as a sanctuary in 1910 and declared a National Park in 1999 it is known as the mini-Kaziranga since it has similar landscape and they are both inhabited by tigers, the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, wild elephant, leopard, sambar, barking deer, wild water buffalo, varieties of water birds, green pigeon, florican, teal, geese and is home to more than 50 species of fish.
Orang Park contains significant breeding populations of several mammalian species. Apart from the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros (68 at the last count), which is the dominant species of the national park, the other key species sharing the habitat are the royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris), Asiatic elephant, pygmy hog, hog deer and wild boar. 222 species of birds have so far been recorded, some of which are: spot-billed pelican, great white pelican, black-necked stork, greater adjutant stork, lesser adjutant stork, ruddy shelduck, gadwall, brahminy duck, mallard, pintail, hornbills, Pallas’s fish eagle, king fisher and woodpecker, in addition to forest and grassland birds.