Wildlife of Pench National Park
Pench National Park has its importance in the natural history of central India. Many accolade of its natural beauty and its richness in fauna & flora have appeared in numerous literatures dating back to the 17th century. Books, pertaining to 19th and early 20th century, by famous naturalists like caption J. Forsyth (High lands of central India), R.A. Sterndale (Camp life in Seoni, and Mammals of India:), Dunbar Brander (Wild animals in Central India) and Rudyard Kipling (Jungle book) explicitly present the detailed panorama of nature’s abundance in this tract of Satpura hill Ranges.
Pench National park, also popularly known as Mowgli Land, lies in the central highlands of India and is one of the most important habitats in the world for the conservation of the highly endangered “Royal Bengal Tigers”. Pench National park is centrally located in these highlands. It is connected to Kanha by forest of Seoni, Balaghat and Mandla districts and southern side is contiguous with Pench Tiger Reserve of Maharastra.
Although the prime attraction of Pench National Park remains the Royal Bengal Tigers, the park has shot into limelight because of it’s significant population of cubs.
There are around 40 tigers in the park, 39 species of mammals, 13 species of reptiles, 3 species of amphibians. Commonly seen wildlife is chital, sambar, nilgai, wild pig, and jackal. Other species in the park include the Indian leopard, sloth bear, indian wolf, wild dog, porcupine, monkey, jungle cat, fox, gaur, striped hyena, four-horned antelope, as well as, the barking deer.
The wetlands of the park are of great significance in the context of conservation of avian fauna, as it not only provides suitable habitat for the residential birds; but also provide wintering grounds for many waterfowls. The islands in Totaladoh reservoir provide nesting grounds to many island nesting birds like River Tern, Small Pratincol & Little Tern. That’s why this area is included in the list of Birding in India.
The park is rich in bird life too. According to an estimate of the wildlife authorities, the park harbours more than 210 species including several migratory ones. Some of these species of feather are magpie robin, peafowl, crow pheasant, junglefowl, crimson-breasted barbet, red-vented bulbul, racket-tailed drongo, Indian roller, lesser whistling teal, pintail, shoveller, egret and herons, minivet, oriole, wagtail, munia, myna, waterfowl, as well as, blue kingfisher.
Pench National Park showcases abundant forests of Central Indian Teak dominated Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests which are a primary habitat of Tiger,by default, owing to be very suitable for herbivores. A significant part of Pench National Park harbours high ungulate density of 90.3 animals per sq. km. & second highest biomass density of 6013.25 kg per sq km. after Nagarhole. (M.K.S. Pasha & Areendran). This high prey base along with different ideal habitat conditions
is ideal condition for the sustenance and growth of the Tiger, the top consumer of the natural Ecosystem of the forest.
The forest cover in the park area includes teak mixed with other species like saja, bijiayasal, lendia, haldu, dhaora, salai, aonla, amaltas. The ground is covered with maze of grasses, plants, bushesm as well as, saplings. Bamboo is also found at places. Scattered white kulu trees, also referred to as ‘ghost tree’, stand out conspicuously among the various hues of green. Another important flora for both wildlife and tribal people of this region is mahua. The flowers of this tree are eaten by mammals and birds, and also harvested by the tribal people as food and to brew local beer.
The forest of Pench are located in the catchments of the Bawanthari & Pench River. The huge mass of water collected in Totaladoh reservoir, run the Pench Hydroelectric project for electricity generation & drinking water supply to Nagpur city. The Bawanthari Reservoir used for irrigation purpose is totally dependent on it.
Pench National park displays all the intricacies of natural ecosystem in the form of various ecosystem pyramids of different producer-consumer chains, geological history, river orientation, management of wild habitat and watershed development and management. Besides the highly endangered Royal Bengal Tiger, the reserve also harbors a wide range of faunal species some of which figure prominently in the IUCN Red List. These species include Cuon alpinus, Vulpes benghalensis, Melursus ursinus, Lutra perspicillata, Panthera pardus, Bos gaurus and Python molurus. Among vertebrate 58 species of mammals, 325 species of birds, 37 species of reptiles & 50 species of fishes have been reported so far. Hence it is an ideal site to impart nature education. In invertebrate 100 species of butterfly, 100 species of moth, 50 species of dragonfly and damselfly, 30 species of spiders and almost 250 species of other insects have been identified. The floral diversity comprise of about 1000 species of angiosperms, about 10 species of pteridophytes, 10 species of bryophytes and about 35 species of fungi. The inventories are not exhaustive and there is still scope for intensive floral, faunal and entomological surveys, which are done on a regulary basis, with the help of forest department personnels as well as volunteers.
A very good population of about 100 highly endangered Vultures are found in Pench, which comprises of Sarcogyps calvus, Aegypius monachsu, Gyps indicus, Gyps sp (Slednder billed vulture), Gyps bengalensis, Neophron percnopteru & Griffon species.
Tremendous scenic beauty of dense forest, a number of open meadows, massive reservoir, picturesque beauty of sunrise at Kalapahad and sunset view from Alikatta provide a real feeling of the wilderness. Habitation free area miles together with least biotic disturbance allows the different life form to play in their natural form in the wilderness of this PA.
Representative biological diversity of Central Indian Highlands including many rare and endangered flora of great medicinal, educational, scientific and conservation values are efficiently conserved in Pench Tiger Reserve.