Bandipura is one of Indias best known wildlife reserves, and is a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. Bandipura is on the leeward side of the Western Ghats and is situated in the southern part of Karnataka, where the Deccan Plateau rises to meet the wrinkled folds of the Western Ghat mountains.
Bandipura Tiger Reserve with an area of 1282 sq. km., is contiguous with some other prominent reserves. The protected forests adjoining Bandipura are Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuary to the southeast, Mudumalai tiger reserve to the south, Wayanad wildlife sanctuary to the southwest and Nagarahole tiger reserve to the northeast. Together they form a large and very important wildlife habitat, endowed with diverse geographical features, and supporting a remarkable variety of flora and fauna.
Bandipura is characterized by undulating landscape with steep gorges like Moyar river valley to the hills of Himavad Gopalaswamy which reaches an altitude of 1455 msl. Basaltic and crystalline volcanic rocks dominate exposed and weathered surfaces. Eroded stream beds and small rocky hillocks create many micro habitats within the ecosystem of Bandipura. Rivers such as Moyyar, Kabini, Nugu and lots of other perennial streams crisscross the forests of Bandipura.
Under the British Raj, this area was first notified as a reserve forest in 1898. Later, at the insistence of the Maharaja of Mysore, a 90 sq km game reserve was declared in 1931, and subsequently upgraded in 1941, as the 800 sq km Venugopala Wildlife Park. Its 60 sq km sanctum sanctorum at Bandipura was untouched by commercial forestry operations. The intention to notify it as National Park was declared on 5th June 1974 with the initiation of Project Tiger. This park has recorded a constant rise in tiger population since then.
Now with an extension to 1282 sq km, the tiger reserve has a 872 sq km core zone and a 410 sq km buffer zone, of which 82 sq km is tourism zone and 1 sq km is administrative zone.
The Big Five of Bandipur
The major animals spotted in Bandipura are Elephants, Wild dogs, Leopards, Tigers and Gaurs.
Birds of Bandipura
The common birds spotted in Bandipura are Rufous woodpecker, Malabar grey hornbill, Lapwing, Crested treeswift, Tailor bird and Weaver bird.
Deers of Bandipura
There are three major species of deer spotted in Bandipura. They are spotted deer, sambar deer, barking deer. These deer form the major prey base for the predators of Bandipura.
Roads at Bandipura
Roads in Bandipura is unquestionably one of the most scenic roads to drive in India. Driving in it one can see deers and peacocks so frequently. The traffic in these roads are banned during night to prevent accidental killing of wild animals.
Safari at Bandipura
Its suggested to take the first safari of the day or the last safari of the day to have lot of sightings. This time we had the last safari of the day. The sun was setting when we were in the safari.