Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga, declared a National Park in 1974, is the first and oldest in Assam. Compared to other protected areas in India it has achieved notable success in wildlife conservation. It spreads over 430 sq kms. Located at the edge of the eastern Himalayas and with the background scenic beauty of the Karbi Anglong hills the park combines high species diversity and visibility in a wetland ecosystem comprising dense moist broadleaf forests, tall elephant grass, rugged reeds, marshland and numerous small bodies of water. It is crisscrossed by four major rivers including the Brahmaputra.
Only a 2-hour drive away from Wild Masheer, we are happy to arrange for our guests to visit Kaziranga.
The park is open during the winter months of the dry season from the beginning of November to the end of April. It is split into four zones: the central or Kaziranga Range, the western or Bagori Range, the eastern or Agaratoli Range and the Burapahar Range. We usually recommend that our guests take their elephant safari in the western range where they will have a chance to get close to the great one-horned rhinoceros. The favoured ranges for jeep safaris are the eastern, central and western.
Elephant safaris set out at 05.30 and 06.30 every morning and at 15.00 every afternoon. They last one hour.
Jeep safaris depart between 07.00 and 09.30 in the morning and can last until noon. In the afternoon they depart between 13.30 and 15.00 and can last until sunset.
Trekking in Kaziranga National Park is also permitted in the tropical mixed forests of Panbari Reserve Forest under the Bokakhat Beat (5 km) and in the Kukurkata Reserve Forest under the Burapahar Range (10 km).
The Panbari Reserve Forest terrain has a gentle slope as compared with the terrain of Kukurkata Reserve Forest, which is hilly with mainly tropical moist mixed forest vegetation. From the hilltop of Kukurkata you will see a panoramic view of the floodplain and ecosystem of Kaziranga National Park. It has a good diversity of birds and primates.
As both the Reserve Forests are frequented by the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros and wild Asian elephants it is imperative you have an armed guard provided by the park management to accompany you.
Kaziranga contains significant breeding populations of thirty-five mammalian species of which fifteen are threatened. The park is the natural home to over 70% of the world’s famous great one-horned rhinoceros and boasts the highest density of tigers in protected areas in the world (32 per 100 sq km). To support the tigers it has the highest density of tigers’ prey. It has more than 60% of India’s wild Asiatic water buffalo population and the only population of eastern swamp deer.
Census figures for the Big Five are:
Great one-horned rhinoceros 2,048 (2009)
Royal Bengal tiger 86 (2000)
Indian elephant 1,246 (2005)
Wild Asiatic water buffalo 1,431 (2001)
Eastern swamp deer 681 (2006)
Other important wildlife are Indian bison, gaur, the rare sloth bear, Asiatic black bear, hog deer, sambar, barking deer, leopard, fishing cat, jungle cat, leopard cat, hog badger, large Indian civet, small Indian civet, hispid hare, Indian porcupine, Bengal fox, golden jackal and common otter. Nine of the fourteen primate species found in India occur in the park, prominent of which are the Assamese macaque, capped langur as well as the only ape found in India, the Hoolock gibbon. Kaziranga’s rivers are also home to the endangered Ganges and Indus river dolphin.
A complete checklist of mammals can be found in the Downloads Page of Kaziranga National Park’s official website: http://www.worldheritagekaziranga.com/Utilities-Downloads.html
Kaziranga is recognized as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International and is home to twenty-five globally threatened and twenty-one near threatened species of birds. So far around 480 species of birds, both migratory and resident, have been identified and recorded in the park. Waterfowl breeds, in or passing through Kaziranga, include several rare species of geese (lesser white-fronted goose) and ducks (ferruginous pochard, baer’s pochard). Rare riverine birds include Blyth’s kingfisher, the white-bellied heron, the dalmation and spot-billed pelicans, the spotted greenshank and black-bellied tern. Rare migratory storks and cranes are also seen wintering at the park, like the lesser adjutant, the greater adjutant, the black-necked stork and the Asian openbill.
Kaziranga hosts a large number of raptors, considered one sign of a healthy ecosystem, like the rare eastern imperial eagle, the greater spotted eagle, the white-tailed fishing eagle, pallas’s fish eagle, the grey-headed fish eagle and the lesser kestrel. Other families of birds inhabiting Kaziranga include babblers, weaver birds, thrushes, warblers and the rare great Indian hornbill, black-breasted parrotbill and rufous-vented prinia.
The twenty-five globally threatened species of birds that have been recorded at the park are:
1 Baer’s Pochard (Aythya Baeri)
2 Bengal Florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis)
3 Black bellied tern (Sterna acuticauda)
4 Black- breasted Parrotbill (Paradoxornis flavirostris)
5 Bristled Grassbird (Chaetornis striatus)
6 Blyth’s Kingfisher (Alcedo )
7 Dalmatian Pelican (P. Crispus)
8 Ferruginous Pochard (Aythya nyroca)
9 Finn’s Weaver (Ploceus megarhynchus)
10 Greater Adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius)
11 Greater spotted eagle (Aquilla clanga)
12 Hodgson’s Bushchat (Saxicola insignis)
13 Imperial Eagle (Aquilla heliaca)
14 Jerdon’s Babbler (Chrysomma altirostre)
15 Pale-capped pigeon (Columba punicea)
16 Pallas’s Fishing Eagle (Haliaetus leucoryphus)
17 Lesser adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus)
18 Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)
19 Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus)
20 Marsh Babbler (Pellorneum palustre)
21 Nordmann’s Greenshank ( Tringa guttifer)
22 Rufous-vented prinia (Prinia burnesii)
23 Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus phillippensis)
24 Swamp francolin (Francolinus gularis)
25 White-bellied Heron (Ardea insignis)
A complete checklist of birds can be found in the Downloads Page of Kaziranga National Park’s official website: http://www.worldheritagekaziranga.com/Utilities-Downloads.html
The park also has many species of turtles and tortoises including the rare gangetic or Indian softshell turtle, lizards, monitors, two of the largest snakes in the world, the reticulated python and the rock python, the longest and most venomous snake in the world, the king cobra and many other snakes like the Bengal cobra, pit vipers and the banded krait.
Aquatic Flora & Fauna
Four main types of vegetation exist in the park: alluvial inundated grasslands, alluvial savanna woodlands, tropical moist mixed deciduous forests and tropical semi-evergreen forests. The western side of the park is at a lower altitude.
More than 150 perennial water bodies are located inside the park where water level fluctuates temporally resulting in the generation of a very rich aquatic floral diversity. More than thirty-two species of flora have so far been identified. More than sixty species of fish have been recorded and it is the breeding ground of many of the local species.
A complete checklist of fauna can be found in the Downloads Page of Kaziranga National Park’s official website: http://www.worldheritagekaziranga.com/Utilities-Downloads.html
LINK to Official Kaziranga National Park website< http://www.worldheritagekaziranga.com/>
Nameri National Park
Nameri National Park is just a 30-minute drive from Wild Mahseer. Located in the foothills of the eastern Hamalayas about 35 km from Tezpur it shares its northern boundary with the Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary of Arunachal Pradesh and together they total over 1,000 sq kms of semi-evergreen, moist deciduous forest with cane and bamboo brakes and narrow strips of open grassland along the rivers.
With its hills of deciduous forests and the Jia Bhoroli River flowing through, it is excellent elephant country and the ideal habitat for a host of other animals too, including tigers, clouded leopards, bisons, sambars, dhole (Asiatic wild dog), hog deer, wild boar, sloth bear, Himalayan black bear, capped langur and the Indian giant squirrel. It is also a butterfly and birding enthusiast’s paradise. It is home to more than 300 species of birds including four species of hornbills and an abundance of mynas, bee eaters, barbets, babblers, bulbuls, plovers and ibis.
Nameri also shelters the rare and endangered white-winged wood duck and over fifty of the total world population of 700 of this species can be found there. You may be lucky enough to see some or even happen upon a tiger or a herd of wild elephants. But don’t worry! An armed park ranger will accompany you at all times.
We have a special relationship with our friends at the Eco Camp situated near the park, and you can enjoy snacks, full meals and drinks at the restaurant in the camp's beautiful grounds before or after your trek. The recently established Pygmy Hog Foundation is also well worth a visit to learn about this species, one of the world’s most endangered mammals. Pygmy hogs are now being bred at a centre in Guwahati and then being moved into semi-natural conditions at the pre-release centre in Nameri prior to being set free into the park itself.
Please note the park is closed during the summer monsoon season from May to October.
Orang National Park
Covering approximately 79 sq kms and located on the north bank of the Brahmaputra River in the Darrang and Sonitpur districts of Assam, Orang National Park is a 2-hour drive from Wild Mahseer. It is one of the smaller sanctuaries in Assam.
Established as a sanctuary in 1910 and declared a National Park in 1999 it is known as the mini-Kaziranga since it has similar landscape and they are both inhabited by tigers, the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, wild elephant, leopard, sambar, barking deer, wild water buffalo, varieties of water birds, green pigeon, florican, teal, geese and is home to more than fifty species of fish.
The park is engulfed by natural forest flora and non-aquatic grasslands and visitors can enter during the dry season in the morning or afternoon, preferably on elephant back.
Manas National Park
Situated on the Manas River to the northwest of Assam on the border with Bhutan and in the foothills of the Himalayas, is Manas National Park, an 8-hour drive from Wild Mahseer. It was declared a sanctuary in 1928, designated a World Heritage site in 1985 and is one of nine tiger reserve sanctuaries in India. The park embodies a combination of scenic beauty and a rare wealth of wildlife having the world’s remaining population of less than 150 pygmy hogs and the last golden langurs living on an island in the middle of the Manas River.
Covering 519.77 sq kms (it extends into Bhutan for a further 500 sq kms) it has a core area of 360 kms and its own peculiar faunal features. Other rare species found there are tiger, the hispid hare, capped langurs, the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros and Asiatic buffalo and commonly seen animals are wild elephant, gaur, leopard, clouded leopard, Himalayan bear, wild boar, sambar, swamp deer and hog deer.
Hundreds of winged species migrate to the pleasant climate of Manas during winter, among which are riverchats (white capped redstars), forktails, cormorants and many ducks including the ruddy shellduck.
Elephant and jeep safaris are both available there during the dry season.
Pakke Tiger Reserve (Arunachal Pradesh)
Located in the foothills of the eastern Himalayas in the East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh is Pakke Tiger Reserve, one of the finest yet least visited tourist destinations.
Pakke Tiger Reserve covers 862 sq kms and the best time to visit is from November to March. It is home to over 2000 species of plants, 300 species of birds, forty species of mammals, thirty species of amphibians and thirty-six species of reptiles.
Eagle’s Nest Wildlife Sanctuary (Arunachal Pradesh)
Also located in Arunachal Pradesh but in the West Kameng district, is Eagle’s Nest Wildlife Sanctuary. Covering an area of 217 sq km it conjoins the Sessa Orchid Sanctuary to the northeast and Pakke Tiger Reserve across the Kameng River to the east and shelters at least fifteen species of mammals, including the capped langur, Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, leopard, Asiatic black bear and the red panda to name a few.
Eagle’s Nest is notable as a prime birding site due to the extraordinary variety, numbers and accessibility of bird species there. It is home to over 450 species of bird, forty-five of which are on the endangered species list. It is where bugun liocichla was first discovered in 1995 and again observed and described in 2006 by Ramana Athreyaa.