Bengal tiger reserves are mapped on this page and critically, but I hope fairly, discussed. There are quite a good number of reserves in India and all the tigers are in them (or are they? – as at 2002 60+% were outside reserves apparently – src: Sunquists Wild Cats Of The World). A complete list of reserves can be seen at the base of the page. I have mapped 40 tiger reserves (see below). There are said to be 39 Indian tiger reserves at March 2011 according to the Indian government. You will find some confusion concerning the naming of a number of reserves, hence the difficulty in mapping them. There is also confusion as to the total number hence mapping one more than 39.
Please click on the place markers and grey zones in the map below for details. Green markers: very good “management effectiveness” of tiger reserves¹. The purple marker = poor. Yellow = good. Cyan = satisfactory. Blue with center dot = unassessed.
As some tourists might visit this page, without being too negative you should be aware that although the parks will be fantastic all is not completely rosy in the tiger reserves of India. You might be lucky to see a tiger! Of course you might have no problem at all seeing a tiger but don’t assume that you will. The video immediately below gives a feel for what might be happening. The tiger reserve featured in this video is the most westerly on the map and in northern India, about 3 hours drive apparently from Delhi. You can zoom in if you like and move the map around by left clicking and dragging.
In building this page I became increasingly gloomy about the tiger in these reserves. I am sorry but the background story, the untold story of the gradual extinction of the tiger in the wild, is being played out in these very reserves. You probably won’t hear that from the tour guides and tourist operations. Another equally disturbing story concerns the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (also on the map below) and the “genetic pollution” of the Bengal tigers in it. A tiger was imported from England to help improve the stock of tigers at the reserve. It transpired that it was a hybrid Siberian/Bengal tiger! Shame on England and the Twycross Zoo. Now there are signs of non-purebred tigers in the reserve. These have “white complexion, pale fur, large head and wide stripes” indicating the Siberian tiger subspecies. The then prime minister, Indira Gandhi, approved the operation.
It is a disaster because people are not seeing the Bengal tiger and if these tigers get out of the reserve and “pollute” other reserves, that could be the end of the Bengal tiger in the wild. 28th April 2010 — Update on Indian Tiger Reserves (opens in new small window) Also see, for instance, in the Times newspaper of December 2009, it says that half of the 38 Indian Bengal tiger reserves could lose all their tigers at any moment- frankly shocking and the possible ruination of the tourist industry based on tigers. Even the Indian Environmental Minister, Jairam Ramesh, said that 17 reserves were “in a very precarious state”.
Eight new reserves are to be created, apparently. When, where and will it happen? And will they be able to protect the tiger? The date of this post is Nov. 2009. Update: India are part of the Global Tiger Recovery Program and they say they are going to set up a dedicated tiger protection force. See a tiger density map (tigers per 100 km²) by Indian state (figures from Wikipedia, mapping by Google fusion tables): please go to the original map.
Indian Bengal tiger reserves — This map can be moved around. Left click on the map and hold. Then move the mouse. You can zoom in and out too. This allows a wider view or a more detailed view. Click on the shaded areas and the place markers…Green markers: very good “management effectiveness” of tiger reserves¹. The Purple marker = poor. Yellow = good. Cyan = satisfactory. Blue with center dot = not assessed.
The tiger has to be in reserves because there is no land anywhere else these days that is suitable (sometimes it is questionable whether the reserves themselves are suitable). The authorities will admit that poaching is a major problem despite relatively large numbers of wardens (cats and corruption – am I being too harsh?). It is shocking that people are still deliberately killing the very last remaining tigers in the wild in the world. I am also shocked at the very small tiger populations in these reserves. The trouble is that the rarer they become the more valuable they become and so more likely to be poached.
On an associated subject, it is accepted that the Florida Panther (Puma) is inbred and it has been that way for many years. It lives in an “island habitat” cut off from other pumas. The reserves are island habitats. Update: the concept of joining together reserves is explored in the The Tigers of Bhutan. Update 13th November 2011: A story in the Sunday Times says that there is talk of closing the tiger reserves to tourists to allow the tigers to breed more effectively. If not a total ban a partial ban to “core areas” is proposed. There is much concern and discussion about this. An application has been made to the Supreme Court in India. India is failing in its protection of the Bengal tiger and it is an embarassment for the government and a disaster for the Bengal tiger.
The Indian Bengal tiger reserves are very similar in size to the island habitat of the Puma and the numbers of tigers in each reserve are very similar also (on most occasions the tiger populations are considerably lower). The numbers of tigers is of course dictated by the size of range available. Female home ranges in Nagarahole National Park are considered small at 15 – 20 square miles. This park (when not combined with neighbouring parks) would seem to in the order of 200 square miles allowing therefore 10 non-overlapping home ranges for the females. Male ranges cover those of several female ranges and when they become independent they disperse on average 33 kilometres (research in Chitwan National Park – Nepal). To me it would seem that most of the reserves may be too small to sustain tigers in the long term. If I am right it won’t be the first time conservationists have made this mistake.
Bandipur Tiger Reserve
Inbreeding of tigers must be a factor in its survival in the wild (see Inbreeding of Wildcats). I read that a minimum breeding population of 500 is needed for long term viability (i.e. per grouping) – is this correct? . There are only 1,400 in the world broken up into small groups on reserves. And the Siberian tiger also has an inbreeding problem. So what about these Indian Bengal tiger reserves? Here is some more information on a selection of the reserves.
Ranthambore Tiger Reserve
The park is open from Oct 1st to June 30th and is about 200 miles as the crow flies south of the capital, Delhi. For that reason, I am sure that it is well visited. In fact, a railway station some 12 km from the reserve (Sawaimadhopur) is on the Delhi-Mumbai train route. The nearest airport is at Jaipur some 165 km from the park. My research indicates that there are a lot of airlines with a good number of flights to Jaipur. The temperature range is 4C to 47C. Other wild cats that you might be lucky to see are: Leopard, Caracal, Asian Leopard Cat, Asian Fishing Cat and the Jungle Cat (Felis chaus). The Indian Tiger website (to whom I am grateful for some of the information about the reserves) says that in 2001 there were 20 tigers in the reserve. Tellingly, it is difficult to find more up to date figures. The population has been at this low level for many years (but please note that I have stated that these reserves probably cannot sustain more than these numbers). See the wildlife package tours to this reserve from the Ranthambore website.
Corbett Tiger Reserve
Corbett tiger reserve deserves a mention because it is the original Project Tiger reserve and one if the most famous, named after the well known big game hunter turned conservationist, Jim Corbett. I believe that it has the highest tiger density of all the reserves at 20/100 km². I recommend it for that reason and for easy access and good facilities. However on the downside the reserve has too many tourists it is argued and too much development is taking place in its environs and inside the park, which enganders the tiger and the wilderness experience – Corbett Tiger Reserve becoming a zoo.
This is an important Project Tiger reserve. It is home to around seventy tigers (as at 2009 – a 1997 count! – remember that mistakes have been made in the counting of tigers). At the same date there were 88 leopards. There is good accommodation in the park, apparently. I have recommended this Indian Bengal tiger reserve.
Indian Bengal Tiger Reserves – Panna Tiger Reserve
Kanha Tiger Reserve
The Indian Tiger website says that you might get more tiger sightings here than in the other parks. To use their words sightings are, “not as rare”. By implication tiger sightings are rare but I don’t know how rare. But if people are flying to these reserves from far afield to see tigers it would be a bit of a failure to not see one and that seems highly possible if not likely. There were 107 tigers in this reserve at 2001. You might also see leopards. The nearest airports are at Jabalpur (170 km), Raipur and Nagpur (270 km).
Panna National Park
This is another Indian Bengal tiger reserve in which all is not well in respect of tiger conservation. The video embedded in the map tells the story as does the one below. They reinforce what I say about the Sarika reserve. In short the numbers of tigers was already low at 21 (2001). There is evidence that the figure is lower. Are there any and if not why not? It is hard to find out in the muddy waters of tiger conservation. See the Bengal tiger is mismanaged. The Indian Tiger website says that the tiger roams freely. There are also leopards in this park that is described as “a bit small”. It is though similar in size to a number of the other reserves.
Sunderban National Park
This is a very large swampy area (mangrove) and frankly not ideally suited as an Indian Bengal tiger reserve but the tiger has adapted to sea water and swamp. It is occupied by both tiger and human and they are forced together with unsatisfactory outcomes for both but mainly the tiger (a story about people and a leopard in disharmony). There are attacks on people in this area by starving and injured tigers who are subsequently killed; there are too many people in the area for the tiger and the tiger’s prey. This is the reserve where there are the highest number of tigers but it is the largest too and the number count is old (Indian Tiger site says 242 in 1985!). How many now? I remember a video in which a tourist said she hadn’t seen a tiger the entire time she was there. The area is well connected to international flights.
A large reserve on the east side of the country. It is also an elephant reserve. The park is open from 1 October to 15 June. It was made a tiger reserve in 1956 so it has a long history. One aspect that should be observed (as mentioned by the Wikipedia authors) is the possibility of contracting cerebral malaria as the reserve is in area where this disease appears to be prevalent. Tourists should be aware of this before travelling and precautions taken. This can be a serious illness.
Manas Tiger Reserve
This is a remote place (“far from human habitation…”). It is way up north. However, there is an airport 176 kms away at Guwahati. And this Indian Bengal tiger reserve has connections by road. There were 98 tigers there in 2001 so it is said. Being further north it is cooler with temperatures ranging from 2°C to 32°C. Namdapha Tiger Reserve Good news April 2012. An extensive recent camera trap survey discovered Bengal tigers and five other species of wildcat in this far northeast region of India near the border with Myanmar. Indian Bengal tiger population Assessed as 1411 + Sunderbans tigers (not counted accurately presumably)2. Or at 1,706 by the 2010 National Tiger Assessment (date: 2012 – latest figures). Numbers have consistently fallen.
List of Indian Bengal Tiger Reserves
This is the list in alphabetical order of 40 of the Indian bengal tiger reserves. The source is the Indian government – note some confusion as to the total number. The information is a reworking of the Wikipedia spreadsheet which I feel contains confusing information. Please note: in my considered view tiger numbers and densities are not that reliable. Please inquire.
Note: 1. Source of best managed: National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in junction with Wildlife Institute of India (WII). These organisations undertook a assessment from 6-2010 to 7-2011. 2. National Tiger Conservation Authority
What Other Visitors Have Said
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page…
Corbett Tiger Reserve Becoming a Zoo Uncontrolled tourism and attendant construction of accommodation and tourist activity centres (unrelated to seeing tigers) will gradually turn the most …
What Are The Best Bengal Tiger Reserves? I recommend the best tiger reserves. I have made a selection based on sensible criteria. The first requirement is to go to a reserve where you have the …
The Bengal Tiger Reserves of India The Indian authorities have responsibility
for saving the Bengal tiger. It is in their hands as it has been
for decades. The situation is becoming ever …