Buxa Tiger Reserve
|Buxa Tiger Reserve
বক্সা জাতীয় উদ্যান
|Location||West Bengal, India|
|Area||760 km2 (290 sq mi)|
|Governing body||Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India|
The Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR) (Bengali: বক্সা জাতীয় উদ্যান; Pron: ˈbʌksə) is a 760-square-kilometre (290 sq mi) tiger reserve located inside the Buxa National Park (Bengali: বক্সা জাতীয় উদ্যান Bôksha Jatio Uddan) in West Bengal, India, in the Buxa Hills of the southern hilly area of Bhutan. Animals found in the park include, the tiger, civet, elephant, gaur (Indian bison), Indian boar and red jungle fowl.
Buxa Tiger Reserve lies in Alipurduar district of West Bengal. Its northern boundary runs along the international border with Bhutan. The Sinchula hill range lies all along the northern side of BTR and the eastern boundary touches that of the Assam state. National Highway No.31 C roughly runs along its southern boundary. It is the eastern most extension of extreme bio-diverse North-East India and represents highly endemic Indo-Malayan region. The fragile "Terai Eco-System" constitutes a part of this reserve. The Phipsu Wildlife Sanctuary of Bhutan is contiguous to the north of BTR. Manas National Park lies on east of BTR. BTR, thus, serves as international corridor for Asian elephant migration between India and Bhutan. To the south-west, the Chilapata Forests form an elephant corridor to the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary. The reserve encompasses as many as eight forest types. The divisional headquarters is located at Alipurduar. The forest is divided into two divisions: East and West. The Himalayan griffon, beautiful nuthatch, four different varieties of hornbill and the red breasted Himalayan partridge are important birds in this reserve. Among the wild animals, clouded leopard, tiger, wild dog, pangolin and Himalayan black bear are rare. Buxa Fort is an important landmark for this reserve. This fort was captured by British-India in 1865 after the Bhutan War from Bhutan. Later this fort was used as a detention camp for Indian freedom fighters during the Indian freedom movement.
Buxa Tiger Reserve was created in 1983 as the 15th tiger reserve in India. In 1986, Buxa Wildlife Sanctuary was constituted over 314.52 km2 of the reserve forests. In 1991, 54.47 km2 was added to Buxa Wildlife Sanctuary. A year later, in 1992, the Government of West Bengal declared its intentions to constitute a national park over 117.10 km2 of the Buxa Wildlife Sanctuary. State government finally declared national park with notification No.3403-For/11B-6/95 dt. 05.12.1997.
The historic Buxa Fort (2,600 feet or 790 metres above m.s.l.). People have sentimental attachment with the fort on accounts of its association with the struggle for freedom. A sacred temple, Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga lies in BTR. Around 10,000 devotees of Lord Shiva congregate here on "Shiva Chouturdoshi".
- Northern dry deciduous
- Eastern Bhabar and Terai sal
- East Himalayan moist mixed deciduous forest
- Sub-Himalayan secondary wet mixed forest
- Eastern sub-montane semi-evergreen forest
- Northern tropical evergreen forest
- East Himalayan subtropical wet hill forest
- Moist sal savannah
- Low alluvium
- Savannah woodland
Flora and fauna
More than 450 species of trees, 250 species of shrubs, 400 species of herbs, 9 species of cane, 10 species of bamboo, 150 species of orchids, 100 species of grass and 130 species of aquatic flora including more than 70 sedges (Cyperaceae) have been identified so far. There are more than 160 species of other monocotyledons and ferns. The main trees are sal, champa, gamar, simul and chikrasi.
There are more than 284 species of birds, 73 species of mammals, 76 species of snakes and 5 species of amphibians have been identified so far. In a recent survey (2006) it was found that Buxa Tiger Reserve has the highest number of fish species in the North Bengal region. Tigers, elephants, bears, civets, giant squirrel, gaur, chital, clouded leopard, wild buffalo, antelope and snakes including the regal python are found here.
About 230 species of birds and innumerable butterflies add colour to the forest. The Raidak and Jayanti rivers which flow through the forest and Narathali Lake are home to migratory and endemic birds. There are greater pied hornbill, ibisbill, migratory goosander, red-stars, wagtails, the rare black necked crane, migratory common teal, black stork, large whistling teal, minivets, and ferruginous pochards. Two new species of frog were discovered in the park in 2006.
Endangered species found in the reserve are Indian tiger, Asian elephant, leopard cat, Bengal florican, regal python, Chinese pangolin, hispid hare, hog deer lesser adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus), white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis), slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris), chestnut-breasted partridge (Arborophila mandellii), rufous necked hornbill (Aceros nipalensis), ferruginous pochard (Aythya nyroca) and great hornbill (Buceros bicornis).
Indian cabbage white at Buxa Tiger Reserve
Threats to the reserve
- Most rivers enter BTR from Bhutan. They carry huge amount of bed load. They obliterate beds of BTR rivers. Flooding is frequent. Critical habitats are lost.
- Over one lakh (100,000) cattle graze in the reserve daily. Weeds, unpalatable grasses and shrubs have invaded the overgrazed areas.
- Hilly, Bhabhar and riverine tracts of core suffer from fire. Generally non timber forest produce collectors and shepherds put forests on fire.
- No frequent poaching cases. Tribal population in tea gardens poach small mammals during Holi festival illicitly as part of ritual hunting.
- Bodo militants from Assam occasionally enter core. Timber thieves operate in the area.
- Five forest hamlets in hilly tract viz. Adma, Chunabhati, Santrabari, Tobgaon and Tashigaon have some encroachments by way of unauthorised orange orchards.
Buxa (2,600 ft) is a one hour fifteen minute (3.9 km) trek through picturesque surroundings from Santhalbari, the starting point. The historical Buxa Fort was coming under the British India after the 2nd Dooars War (1865) between the Bhutan and the British, the subsidiary alliance of princely state Cooch Behar. This was used as a detention camp by the British, because of its remoteness during the Indian freedom movement. Many freedom fighters were imprisoned here. After independence, it served as a refugee camp for Tibetans and Bangladeshis. There are a number of trekking routes through the jungle.
- There is a 4 km further trek to Rovers' Point or Romitey Dara (the land of beautiful birds at 4,500 ft or 1,400 m).
- From Buxa, one can also take the 13 km trek route for Jayanti via Mahakal Cave through the dense jungle (subjected to get permission from BTR). The Mahakal Cave is a stalactite-stalagmite cave, popularly known as the Mahakal cave near Jainty.
- The most popular route is Pagsamkha Path Trek route, which starts from Buxa Fort, Buxaduar via Aadma and ends at Raimatung.
An expert guide and entry permit are must for trekking in Buxa hills. One may visit the very beautiful village of Dukpas called Lapchakha (1.5 hour trek) from Buxa Fort. A beautiful trekkers' hut named Dukpa's Hut (with attached bath) is located just opposite to the Buxa Fort ground and besides of Rupang Valley Trek route. Though there are eight home stays in total, but mostly are located at Lapchakha with minimum facilities. Only Rovers' Inn at Sadar bazar have maximum capacity of accommodations but far from Buxa Fort. Dukpas Hut is also called 'Birders Nest' by the bird watchers. Trekking in different short route with camping facilities arranged from the Dukpas Hut. It has a separate kitchen for trekkers also. the double storied wooden hut has two family rooms (sleeping 3) on upper floor and a dormitory with attached bath on ground floor (sleeping 6) with dining facility. Bird watching, trekking and dark sky photography tours also arrange from here. The hut became an important centre for the promotion of tourism in this region. Wongyel and Chhogyel Dukpa are the two Dukpa brothers are to run the home stay and assist the trekkers here. The Baksha Duar Post Office is a heritage building and the highest post office in Alipurduar District. The tribe Dukpas (Indo-Bhutanese) lived in eleven hamlets of Buxa Hills which mostly located in hilly jungles of Buxa Tiger Reserve at altitude ranging from 2400–6200 feet. Another entry point Rajabhatkhawa (17 km from Alipurduar) has an orchidarium, and a nature interpretation centre. One can go for a circular trek from Buxaduar via Chunabhati-Adma to Raimatang. This is actually 8 hours tough trek with an expert guide but usually trekkers prefer to make it as a 3-day comfortable trek to understand nature and the ethnic culture of this region. Local tour operators at Alipurduar provide tents and other materials to the trekkers.
You can trek to Pukri Mai, a small sacred pond (Karts Lake) situated inside the park where fishes like magur and singi and turtles are kept. Festivals are held at certain time of the year by both Buddhist and Hindus and local ethnic groups like Dukpas.
Dukpa: the word probably comes from Drukpa, the people from the land of thunderstorm. They are the ancient ethnic group among the other inhabitants of Buxa Tiger Reserve. Dukpas used live in the hamlets of Buxa Hills from east to west. The seasonal migratory Dukpas are divided mainly into 30 different sects. They originally were the followers of (Drukpa Kagyud) Mahayani Buddhism. Some of them are converted into Christianity. A Finnish church is still exists along with the age old Buddhist Gumba at Chunabhati. A graveyard at Sadar bazar bears the testimony of Britishers.
Though Forest Authority still not interested in tourism but sometimes they allowed visitor to stay in their inspection bungalows. There are Forest I.B. at Buxa Duar, Jainti, Raimatung, South Ridak, Kumargram (Barobisha)and Nimati Rbeat/Range areas. The beautiful bungalow at Bhutanghat is destroyed. South Raidak Bungalow was renovated and became Heritage Rest House. A 16-bed dormitory still exists at Buxaduar and Jainti. There are forest rest houses of West Bengal Forest Development Corporation at Rajabhatkhawa only. Jayanti at the banks of the river Jayanti nestled between mountains and thick forests. Other than forest lodges presently some home stay accommodations are available at Jainti, Raimatung and Buxaduar. In Buxaduar Dukpas huts (dwelling houses) are used to stay for the trekkers, at Santalabari (Buxa) Buxa valley is a great place to stay in with family and friends built on the Buxa hill slopes, at Rajabhatkhawa Dooars queen is very good place on the bank of a river and some forest dwellers houses are converted into lodges. A concern named after the Sinchula Range is trying to developing a concept of home tourism in these areas along with the forest villagers.
- Nearest airport: Bagdogra – 195 km away
- Nearest tail station: Alipurduar Junction / New Alipurduar – 37 km
- Nearest city: Alipurduar – 35 km
- By road: NH 31 is the main highway 25 km away. One can hire a car from Alipurduar or Rajabhatkhawa, 20 km away.
- Rajabhat Khawa
- Jainty or Jayanti
- Buxa Fort
- Raimatung or Rai matang
- Buxa road 28 basti
- "Abundance of birds in different habitats in Buxa Tiger Reserve, West Bengal, India". Forktail. pp. 128–133. Archived from the original on 2011-03-30. Retrieved 2011-03-28.
- Bidhan Kanti Das. "Role of NTFPs Among Forest Villagers in a Protected Area of West Bengal". Archived from the original on 2011-03-30. Retrieved 2011-03-28.
- "Project Tiger on Buxa". Archived from the original on 2011-01-06. Retrieved 2011-03-30.
- Joseph A. Chapman; John E. C. Flux. Rabbits, hares and pikas: status survey and conservation action plan. pp. 128–136. Retrieved 2011-03-30.
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