The area in Palamu District in Jharkhand was set aside as a protected area in 1947 under the Indian Forests Act. Prior to the formation of the reserve, the area was used for cattle grazing and camping; it was acutely prone to forest fire. In 1974 the area was set up as the Palamau Tiger Reserve.
The tiger reserve has a total area of 1,014 square kilometres (392 sq mi) with a core area of 414 km2 and a buffer area of 600 km2. Ramandag, Latoo and Kujurum forest villages are located in the core area. Most of the villages are small; one village, Meral, consisted in 1993 of just 99 acres (400,000 m2) of land, 9 families and 78 members. In 1993 there were 45 villages located in the buffer area and about 60 more located in the periphery of the reserve. As of 2012 that number had grown to 136 villages that fall under the "buffer area" regulations of the Palamau Tiger Reserve. Only seven of the villages were in existence in 1923. The villagers have no legal claim to lands that were settled after 1974 when the buffer area for the reserve was created.
The tiger population is extremely scarce and counting them has become particularly difficult due to Naxalite activities which have increased since 1990 in the area. As of 2012[update] the count, using DNA to prevent over-counting, is one male tiger and five females.
The initial count in 1974 when the tiger reserve was created was 50 tigers, but some claim that this was an over-count without adequate controls. By 2005 the number of tigers was down to 38. The tiger census in 2007 found only 17 tigers. The 2009 tiger census based on DNA analysis indicated that there were just six tigers left in the reserve. The forest department claimed that since the core area was almost inaccessible due to difficult terrain and the Naxalite presence, that the census may not have found all the tigers, but the no new tigers have been found in the years since then, and decreased game and hunting opportunities suggest that these are the only six.
As of 1989, sixty-five elephants were believed to reside within the reserve.
Apart from tiger and elephant, leopard, gaur, sambar and wild dogs live in the reserve (for a more exhaustive list see article about Betla National Park). Though the North Koel River runs through the reserve, the animals depend on man-made holes for water, making themselves easily accessible to humans.
Over 140 species of birds (including peafowl) have been sighted in the reserve.
Two white vultures were spotted by the officials of Palamu Tiger Reserve in Chainpur recently. They were perched on the sand bed of river Koyal, said sources. This is the first time in 10 years that a vulture has been sighted in Palamu. The sighting of this rare species of birds comes a week after the incident in Garhwa district where nestlings of owl were mistaken for those of vulture.
^ abcdPrasad, R. R. and Jahagirdar, M. P. (1993). Tribal Situation in Forest Villages: Changing subsistence strategies and adaptation. New Delhi, India: Discovery Publishing House. p. 47. ISBN978-81-7141-234-1.
^Bhatt, Shankarlal C. and Bhargava, Gopal K. (2006). Land and people of Indian states and union territories in 36 volumes, volume 12 Jharkhand. Delhi, India: Gyan Publishing House (Kalpaz Publications). p. 216. ISBN978-81-7835-368-5.