Sita Mata Wildlife Sanctuary
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Sita Mata Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife sanctuary situated in south-east portion of Pratapgarh district (Rajasthan) in India, declared as the protected forest area by vide Government of Rajasthan Notification no. F 11 (9) Revenue/8/79 Dated 2.11.1979. Having an area of 422.95 square kilometers, it is a dense forest land which is about 40% of the total land area of this developing district. Sita Mata Wild life Sanctuary is the chief attraction in Pratapgarh. The topography of the area is undulating because of the confluence of three different geological formations- Malwa Plateau, Vindhyachal Hills and Aravali ranges.
The sanctuary is located between 74 degree 25' E and 24 degree 04' N in Pratapgarh district of Rajasthan. The average elevation ranges between 280 and 600 metres above MSL with an average rainfall of 756 mm annually. The temperature variation during winters is between 6 degree C and 14 degree and in summers 32 degree and 45 degree C. The thickly wooded Sita Mata Wildlife Sanctuary sprawls over the Aravali ranges and the Malwa plateau, with seasonal rivers- Jakham, Karmoi, Sitamata, Budhho, and Tankiya flowing through the forest. Jakham is the major one. Located about 45 km from Pratapgarh and 108 km from the divisional Headquarters. Udaipur, the sanctuary, covering 423 km2 of mainly dry deciduous vegetation has exceptionally rich flora and fauna. The forest type as per classification of Champion and Seth, Sita Mata is 'IInd Dry Tropical Forest'.
Since the early times the north-west part of Pratapgarh region had dense forests consisting of valuable Sagwaan, Chandan, Sheesham, Saalar, Dhaak, Dhonk, Kadamb, Mahua, Babool, Imlee and Baans trees in abundance and therefore, in 1828 AD, a separate state forest department was created to manage state's exceptionally rich forest wealth.
How to reach Pratapgarh?
By Road: Pratapgarh is well connected with major cities in Rajasthan, Gujarat & Madhya Pradesh by road. Daily Bus Services Connect Pratapgarh with Chittorgarh ( 110 km), Banswara (85 km), Udaipur (165 km), Dungarpur (195 km), Rajsamand (133 km), Jodhpur (435 km), Jaipur (432 km) in Rajasthan; Ratlam (85 km), Mandsaur (32 km) in M.P. and Delhi (705 km).
By Rail: Pratapgarh is yet to be connected with a railway line. Nearest railway station is Mandsaur (M.P.) (28 km) & Chittorgarh (110 km).
A Sanctuary with Rich Bio-diversity
It is the only forest region, where more than half of the trees are high building value teak. Salar ( Boswellia serrata Rox. ex coleb), Tendu ( Diospyros melonoxy Roxb.), Bad (Ficus benghalensis), Peepal ( Ficus Religiosa Linn.), Babool ( Acacia arabica), Neem ( Azadirachta indica), Arinja (Acacia leucophaea), Siras, Churail, Kachnar, Gulmohar, Amaltas, Bakayan, Ashok, Mahua, Semal, Goondi, Khejadi (Prosopis spicigera), Kumta (Acacia rupestris), Amla, Bamboo, Sindoor, Chironjee, Rudraksha'' and Bel trees are also found in abundance. Hundreds of climbers and shrubs make the place heavenly. Out of 108 varieties of high value medicinal herbs found here, 17 belong to the '32 endangered varieties'.
Sita Mata: A birds' Paradise
A large number of residential and migratory birds are found in this region out of which most common are, nearly of 130 varieties. Little grebe, Little cormorant, Indian darter (Snake bird), Gray Heron, Pond heron, Cattle egret, Little egret, Painted stork, White necked stork, Spoonbill, Lesser whistling thrush, Ruddy shelduck, Pintail, Cotton teal, Spotbill, Nukta, Parah kite, Shikra, White eyed buzzard, King vulture, White-backed vulture, Tawny eagle, White scavenger vulture, Eastrel, Black Partridge, Rain Quail, Jungle Bush Quail, Indian peafowl, Sarus crane, White-breasted Waterhen, Moorhen, Purple moorhen, Common coot, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Red-wattled Lapwing, Red shank, Wood sandpiper, Common sandpiper, Little stint, Black-winged Stilt, Stone-curlew, Indian Courser, River tern, Common sandgrouse, Green pigeon, Blue rock pigeon, Red Turtle Dove, Indian ring dove, Spotted dove, Little brown dove, Alexandrine Parakeet, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Blossom-headed Parakeet, Common Hawk-Cuckoo, Pied crested cuckoo, Koel, Crow pheasant, Spotted owlet, Collared scops owl, Franklis nightjar, House swift, Palm swift, Pied kingfisher, Common kingfisher, White breasted kingfisher, Green Bee-eater, Blue tailed eater, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Indian Roller, European Roller, Hoopoe, Gray Hornbill, Coppersmith, Golden backed woodpecker, Yellow fronted pied woodpecker, Indian Pitta, Red winged bush lark, Ashy crowned finchlark, Rufous tailed finchlark, Crested lark, Dusky Crag Martin, Wire-tailed Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Gray shrike, Bay-backed Shrike, Rufous backed shrike, Golden oriole, Black drongo (King Crow), White-bellied Drongo, Brahminy Myna, Rody Paster, Common Myna, Bank Myna, Indian tree pie, House crow, Jungle Crow, Black-headed Cuckooshrike, Scarlet minivet, Common Iora, Red-vented Bulbul, Common Babbler, Yellow-eyed Babbler, Large Grey Babbler, Gray headed flycatcher, Red-breasted flycatcher, White browed fantail flycatcher, Paradise flycatcher, Franklin's ween warbler, Tailorbird, Lesser Whitethroat, Indian robin, Crested bunting Magpie Robin, Brown Rock Chat, Collared bush chat, Pied Bush Chat, Large Cuckooshrike, Wood shrike, Grey Tit, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Yellow headed wagtail, Grey wagtail, White wagtail, Purple sunbird, White-eye, House sparrow, Weaver bird, Red Avadavat, White-throated Munia, Scaly-breasted Munia, are a few varieties that are common to this forest region.
Hundreds of really rare herbs and medicinal plants are still waiting to be explored in this region. A study of Medicinal-plant-diversity of Sitamata wildlife sanctuary was conducted in 2004-2005 by Ms. Anita Jain, Mr. S.S. Katewa, Mr. P.K. Galav and Ms. Pallavi Sharma (in the Laboratory of Ethnobotany and Agrostology), Department of Botany, College of Science, at Mohan Lal Sukhadia University, Udaipur 313001, Rajasthan, India. A field survey of the study-area was carried out during 2002–2004 to document the medicinal utility of herbs occurring in this area. 243 genera belonging to 76 families have been reported which are used by the tribes of about 50 villages around the sanctuary as means of primary health care to cure various ailments. The study revealed the new ethno-botanical uses of 24 plant species belonging to 20 genera. A list of plant species along with their local name, plant part/s used and mode of administration for effective control in different ailments of ethno-medicinal plants have been given in this study.
Another significant academic reference to this area was made by Dr. Dhirendra Devarshi, an active member of the Bombay Natural History Society and biologist at Maharani Shri Jaya College, Bharatpur, when he wrote the thesis A Study of Avifauna of the Rajasthan State (India).
An ornithologist Devendra Mistree of the town is impressively active in making significant observations as far as updating of checklist of bird-species in this sanctuary is concerned. On the initiative of the earlier District Collector & District Magistrate Hemant Shesh, the Botany Department of the Mohan Lal Sukhadia University, Udaipur had agreed to undertake further various research projects to study in details its rich and varied flora and fauna. Although a tentative checklist of flora and fauna available in the sanctuary has been made by the department of forest, the place offers infinite scope of indepth research in this field.
The most striking animal of Sita Mata sanctuary is the vegetarian mammal flying squirrel (Petaurista-philippensis), which can be seen gliding from one tree to another just around sunset at Arampura forest chowki, 17 km away from Dhariyawad.
Its feeding-activities are nocturnal and therefore it hides during the day time in its hollow on a Mahua tree. The best time to watch flying squirrels is between February and March, when most of the mahua trees shed their leaves and it is easier to spot the squirrel gliding between branches of leafless trees.
The Sanctuary provides rich pastures for a variety of deer that includes the Chousingha (four-horned antelope). Caracal, wild boar, pangolin, leopard, hyena, jackal, fox, jungle cat, porcupine, spotted deer, wild bear, and neelgai are other animals found here. As per the wild life census conducted on 17 May 2011, the number of wild life animals in the sanctuary was 1711 (inclusive of 10 leopards, 538 Jackals, 38 hyenas, 39 foxes, 117 jungle cats etc.)
The best time to visit Sitamata Sanctuary is between October and February.
Other tourism spots in the Sanctuary
It also houses ancient Valmiki Ashram- the birthplace of Luv and Kush (the twins born to Sita and Lord Rama), Hanuman and Sitamata temples and other places of historical and mythological importance. Another significant place of interest in the Sanctuary 5 km from 'Tikhi Magri' is 'Lakhiya Bhata'- where series of prehistoric animals are engraved on rocks. An annual fair in the sanctuary is held at the Sita Mata temple in July.
- Proposals for being declared as National Park
Initiative was taken, in assistance with the local member of parliament and forest officials by Hemant Shesh, the ex-collector & district magistrate of Pratapgarh to get this sanctuary declared as a national park for which proposals are underway.
1. Collins' Handguide to the birds of Indian sub-continent, Martin W. Woodcock, William Collins Sons & Co., London, 1980
2. The book of Indian Birds, Salim Ali, 1972
3. The birds of India, T.C. Jerdon, 3 vols.1862-64
4. A synopsis of the Birds of India and Pakistan, S.Dillon Ripley, 1961
5. A Study of Avifauna of the Rajasthan State (India), Dr. Dhirendra Devarshi, 2004
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