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Largest tiger reserve in India

Discussion in 'Wildlife and National Parks' started by MannatDogra, Jan 19, 2017.

  1. MannatDogra

    MannatDogra New Member

    I would like to take my kids to a tiger reserve in India, and as it would be a one-off trip, I want to make sure its a memorable one.

    I would like to know which is the largest tiger reserve in India. I don't have any issues with the locations as I am willing to travel by air as well.

    I know there are a lot of fo places which have very few tigers left, so I don't want to go to tiger reserve knowing that they only have 2-3 tigers there, which would be quite a mission to see them.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, welcome to the forum!



    There are about 50 tiger reserves in India, all part of the Project Tiger of the Government of India. This project begun in the year 1973, when the Jim Corbett National Park was designated as the first every Project Tiger reserve of India. The Jim Corbett National Park is, however, not one of the largest tiger reserves in the country, though it has a good density of tigers in its premises. The tiger reserves mentioned below are the largest tiger reserves in India, but this doesn't mean that they have the best tiger densities. Usually, for tiger spotting, it's better to have a smaller area with a good number of tigers, so that the tiger density would be higher. Tiger spotting in the reserves mentioned below might be more difficult but you get to enjoy the vast terrains of the premises as well.

    Largest Tiger Reserves in India (Including Core and Buffer Areas)

    1. Nagarjuna Sagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (Andhra Pradesh & Telangana) - Spread in five districts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana is the Nagarjuna Sagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve, with a total area of about 3,568 km². This is the largest tiger reserve of India but spotting tigers can be quite difficult. The reason being that the reserve is spread over a large area and the density of tigers is not that high, considering that the number of tigers here in 2014 was just at 68. The forests of the tiger reserve are of the mixed deciduous types, with landscapes ranging from valleys, to plateaus and to hilly regions. Wildlife isn't easily spotted as well, apart from the tigers, primarily because of the deciduous forests and the large area. However, you can spot more common animals such as chitals, sambars, chinkaras, giant squirrels and many species of monkeys. To enjoy the terrains of the tiger reserve, you can opt for a jeep safari, there are various trips all throughout the day, with a rate of Rs. 800 per trip. Since the Nagarjuna Sagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve is relatively lesser known than the other tiger reserves of the country, you can enjoy the safari even more, with just you, the forests and the wildlife.
    • Area - 3,568 km²
    • Number of Tigers - 68 (As of 2014)
    • Must Spot Animals - Chitals, Sambars, Chinkaras, Giant Squirrels and Monkeys
    Pug Mark of Tiger in Nagarjuna Sagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (Image from Hyticos)

    2. Manas Tiger Reserve (Assam) - The Manas National Park is a popular wildlife reserve in the state of Assam, that becomes contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan. Spread over an area of 2,837 km², Manas National Park is the second largest tiger reserve in India. It has even been designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, having the largest population of the world's one-horned rhinoceroses. The forests of the national park are very diverse too, ranging from semi-evergreen ones, to moist and dry deciduous ones and even savanna woodland ones. Grasslands and rivers also form the vast topography of the Manas National Park. The number of tigers in the national park are quite few though, averaging to just around 21 as of 2016. Combining the number of tigers in the Manas National Park and Royal Manas National Park, they come up to about 44, which is still low given the large area of the region. Still, you can find other wild animals here which would make your safari more satisfying. Commonly spotted animals are Indian leopards, Asian water buffalos, hog deers, Indian elephants, barasinghas, capped langurs and barking deers. You can indulge in either a jeep safari or elephant safari. However, the national park remains closed during monsoon season, as it gets flooded with water from the Brahmaputra River, so make your trip just before then.
    • Area - 2,837 km²
    • Number of Tigers - 21 (As of 2016)
    • Must Spot Animals - Indian Leopards, Asian Water Buffalos, Hog Deers, Indian Elephants, Barasinghas, Capped Langurs and Barking Deers
    3. Indravati Tiger Reserve (Chhattisgarh) - The third largest tiger reserve in India is the Indravati Tiger Reserve, located in the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. Interestingly, the terrains and landscapes of the tiger reserve is quite hilly, this gives it a unique appearance. Moist and deciduous forests cover large areas of the tiger reserve, which become thicker during or after monsoon season. The Indravati Tiger Reserve is known for its population of the endangered wild water buffalos. As of 2014, the number of wild water buffalos have increased to 17 in the tiger reserve. As far as the tigers are concerned, their number is just few in the tiger reserve, about 8 in total as of 2014. Other carnivores like Indian leopards, sloth bears, wild dogs and hyenas have higher populations so you might have higher chances of spotting them. On the other hand, herbivores like chitals, nilgais, barking deers, wild boars and langurs can also be easily spotted due to their even higher populations. The vast terrains, plus adequate number of animals, coupled with the lesser visitors, make the Indravati Tiger Reserve an off the beaten track wildlife destination in India.
    • Area - 2,799 km²
    • Number of Tigers - 8 (As of 2014)
    • Must Spot Animals - Indian Leopards, Sloth Bears, Wild Dogs, Hyenas, Chitals, Nilgais, Barking Deers, Wild boars and Langurs
    4. Similipal Tiger Reserve (Odisha) - Located in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha is the Similipal Tiger Reserve, spread over 2,750 km² of area. It is worth noting that the tiger reserve derived its name from the silk cotton trees, known as simul, that can be found in abundance within its premises. The landscape of the tiger reserve is varied, ranging from sal forests, to grasslands and up to towering peaks. Further, rivers and waterfalls can also be found within the tiger reserve, giving the animals their water sources, but also adds beauty to the premises. Similipal Tiger Reserve once had over 90 tigers in its premises. Unfortunately, due to illegal poaching, the number of the tigers dwindled to just 26, as of the year 2016. Spotting them might prove to be a difficult task. Aside from tigers though, the reserve is home to Indian leopards, Asian elephants, wild boars, langurs and barking deers, which you can spot more easily. This is also one of the few tiger reserves that allow visitors to bring their own vehicles inside the reserve, along with a set fee. Alternatively, there are also jeeps in Baripada that can take you to the core area of the reserve.
    • Area - 2,750 km²
    • Number of Tigers - 26 (As of 2016)
    • Must Spot Animals - Indian Leopards, Asian Elephants, Wild Boars, Langurs and Barking Deers
    5. Sundarbans Tiger Reserve (West Bengal) - Next is the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve, located in the state of West Bengal, continuous with the Sundarbans Reserve Forest of Bangladesh. The Sundarbans Tiger Reserve is designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site as well, owing to its unique topography and having the largest mangrove forests in the world. With its numerous rivers and watering holes, forming much like a canal, the only way of traversing through the Sundarbans is by boat. The Sundarbans is also home to the rare swimming royal Bengal tigers. They are also famed for their man-eating tendencies, with over a thousand humans killed for the past few decades. Despite this, tourists flock to the region just to have a glimpse of this famed man-eating tigers. The Sundarbans is also home to estuarine crocodiles, fishing cats, leopard cats, flying foxes, Ganges River dolphins and mangrove horseshoe crabs. There are various boating options, from mechanised boats, to launches and even air-conditioned vessels. There are set fees for these vehicles, plus a fixed entry fee of Rs. 60 for Indians and Rs. 200 for foreigners and an additional fee for a compulsory tour guide.
    • Area - 2,585 km²
    • Number of Tigers - 76 (As of 2016)
    • Must Spot Animals - Estuarine Crocodiles, Fishing Cats, Leopard Cats, Flying Foxes, Ganges River Dolphins and Mangrove Horseshoe Crabs
    Swimming Tiger in Sundarbans (Image from WWF)

    6. Melghat Tiger Reserve (Maharashtra) - A little known wildlife reserve in the state of Maharashtra is the Melghat Tiger Reserve, located in the Amravati district. Melghat Tiger Reserve is one of the first Project Tiger reserves in India as well, which means it is one of the oldest in the country. The forests of the reserve are of the dry deciduous type, interspersed with various watering holes created by rivers that plummet the region. The location has been immensely maintained, there are no close hotels nor lodges which can add to the disturbance of the pristine forests and wildlife. As of 2013, the tiger number in Melghat is around 32, which is unfortunately, half of what the reserve had about a decade ago. Spotting animals such as jackals, sambars, gaurs, chitals, nilgais and barking deers would be more easier. For the bird watchers, Melghat is a haven for bird watching, with threatened species such as oriental honey buzzards, red-headed vultures, forest owlets, green avadavats and Indian vultures residing here. For a wildlife safari, you can opt for the open-gypsy safari that the government offers to visitors.
    • Area - 2,029 km²
    • Number of Tigers - 32 (As of 2013)
    • Must Spot Animals - Jackals, Sambars, Gaurs, Chitals, Nilgais, Barking Deers, Oriental Honey Buzzards, Red-headed Vultures, Forest Owlets, Green Avadavats and Indian Vultures
    7. Kawal Tiger Reserve (Telangana) - The Kawal Tiger Reserve is spread over 2,016 km² of area in the Mancherial district of Telangana. There are watering holes here, catchment areas provided by both the Godavari River and Kadam River. The forests are of the dry deciduous type, with lots of teak trees all around. Unfortunately, the number of tigers here are very low, at just around six, during the latest count in 2016. Spotting any of these tigers require lots of luck because the reserve in itself is vast and has dense coverings. Even spotting other animals such as chitals, sambars, barking deers, nilgais and bisons can take a bit of luck. The tiger reserve opens as early as 5:00 in the morning so you can opt for an early morning safari for if you want a bit of an adventure. The the nearest town is that of Jannaram, where you can hire jeeps for your safari. There are also hotels here, since there are no nearby accommodations around the reserve proper.
    • Area - 2,016 km²
    • Number of Tigers - 6 (As of 2016)
    • Must Spot Animals - Chitals, Sambars, Barking Deers, Nilgais and Bisons
    8. Namdapha Tiger Reserve (Arunachal Pradesh) - The Namdapha National Park is one of the largest national parks in the country, spread over 1,985 km². It is located in the Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh, nearby its border with Myanmar. The terrains of the national park vary, from tropical forests, to moist forests, to temperate forests and even to alpine forests. These forests can only be termed as virgin, unexplored by many tourists due to the location of the reserve. Endemic and endangered species of plants like the Merkus pine, blue vanda and Delavay's silver-fir can also be found in the forests of Namdapha. When it comes to its tigers though, the Namdapha National Park won't satisfy as much. It is home to about three tigers, as of 2016 estimates, verified only by camera captures. Officials say that the forests of the national park are so dense that tracking tigers and even other wild animals can be hard. Further, the Lisu tribe resides in the national park and according to the officials, they still haunt wild animals which is why the wild animals here are quite lower. Namdapha though is one of the few wildlife reserves home to the big four cat species, including the tiger, common leopards, snow leopard and clouded leopard. It is also fairly easier to spot money species such as Assamese macaques, pig-tailed macaques and stump-tailed macaques here. Further, the only ape specie found in India, the hoolock gibbon, resides here as well.
    • Area - 1,985 km²
    • Number of Tigers - 3 (As of 2016)
    • Must Spot Animals - Common Leopards, Snow Leopards, Clouded Leopards, Assamese Macaques, Pig-Tailed Macaques and Stump-Tailed Macaques and Hoolock Gibbons
    9. Kanha Tiger Reserve (Madhya Pradesh) - Lying in the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh, is one of the prime destinations for tiger spotting, the Kanha Tiger Reserve. Spread over 1,945 km² of area, with varying landscapes of mixed deciduous forests and grasslands, the Kanha Tiger Reserve won't disappoint when it comes to jungle views. It is, in fact, the very inspiration for Rudyard Kipling's novel turned movie, The Jungle Book. In the movie, the lazy sloth bear, the wise panther, the conniving tiger and the caring Indian wolves, shared the story of Mowgli, a human who grew up in the jungle. To have inspired such an amazing story, there really is something about the forests and wildlife of Kanha that is worth exploring. Home to over 105 tigers, as of latest estimates in 2016, the tiger density here is quite good. There are various zones in the national park, but the Kanha and Kisli zones are regarded to have the highest tiger sightings. Aside from tigers, the barasinghas can be found in good numbers here as well, a vulnerable specie of deer found only in India and Nepal. More commonly spotted animals are sambars, barking deers, elephants, wild boars, jackals and langurs. Kanha allows only for a specific number of tourist vehicles per day so make sure you book your ticket in advance.
    • Area - 1,945 km²
    • Number of Tigers - 105 (As of 2016)
    • Must Spot Animals - Sloth Bears, Black Panthers, Indian Wolves, Barasinghas, Sambars, Barking Deers, Elephants, Wild Boards, Jackals and Langurs
    Tigers in Kanha Tiger Reserve (Image from David V. Raju)

    10. Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (Uttar Pradesh) - The Dudhwa National Park is located in the Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh, spread around 1,790 km². Much like the former reserve, the Dudhwa National Park has a good density of tigers in its premises, averaging to around 80 as of latest estimates. The terrains of Dudhwa are also unique, being mainly of the terai type with lots of grasslands interspersed in between. The forests of the national park comprise of sal trees, teak trees and bamboos as well. The best part is that the reserve remains relatively unexplored as compared to the known reserves such as the Ranthambore National Park and Pench National Park. You can also spot other animals such as rhinoceroses, swamp deers, elephants, chitals, wild boars, rhesus macaques, sloth bears and langurs in the reserve. During winter season, it becomes a hot spot for avifaunas too, with endangered species such as marbled teals, swamp francolins, black-bellied terns, Egyptian vultures, yellow-breasted buntings and many more flocking to the water bodies of the national park. Truly a nature lover's haven, the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve should be at the top of your list when choosing a wildlife adventure in India.
    • Area - 1,790 km²
    • Number of Tigers - 80 (As of 2014)
    • Must Spot Animals - Rhinoceroses, Swamp Deers, Elephants, Chitals, Wild Boars, Rhesus Macaques, Sloth Bears and Langurs

    Have you made up your mind yet on which tiger reserves you'd be visiting out of this list? Well, for higher chance of spotting tigers, the Kanha Tiger Reserve has the highest number of tigers at around 105, in its area of 1,945 km². This means that there are about 8 tigers for every 100 km² of the reserve. On the other hand, the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve is a good option as well, with about 80 tigers in its 1,790 km² area. If you want a unique experience, the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve has the famed man-eating and swimming royal Bengal tigers, though spotting them can be quite difficult. For the remaining tiger reserves, though they are the largest in India, spotting tigers can be harder due to their lower tiger densities and lower tiger numbers.

    I hope this helps you!:)

  3. Tripti

    Tripti New Member

    As I am planning to visit Rajasthan soon, I wanted to know if is there any chance that we would be able to spot a tiger in Ranthambore. Would it be worth visiting as it is quite a distance from Jaipur where our main stay will be?
  4. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

    I appreciate your interest in India's tiger reserves, and I'd like to provide some additional information about the largest tiger reserve in India.

    As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, the largest tiger reserve in India is the **Sundarbans Tiger Reserve**. It is not only the largest in India but also one of the most renowned and ecologically significant tiger reserves globally. The Sundarbans is a vast mangrove forest located in the delta region of the Bay of Bengal, spanning both India and Bangladesh.

    Here are some key details about the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve:

    1. **Unique Ecosystem:** The Sundarbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and known for its unique ecosystem, with a complex network of tidal waterways, small islands, and dense mangrove forests. It's also the world's largest mangrove forest.

    2. **Tiger Population:** The Sundarbans is home to the famous Bengal tiger, and it's estimated that there are around 100 Bengal tigers residing in this reserve. These tigers have adapted to the saline environment and are known for their swimming abilities.

    3. **Rich Biodiversity:** Apart from tigers, the Sundarbans is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including saltwater crocodiles, Indian python, spotted deer, and various bird species. The reserve's unique ecosystem also supports a rich marine life.

    4. **Conservation Efforts:** Due to its ecological significance and the need to protect the endangered Bengal tiger, conservation efforts in the Sundarbans are robust. Various initiatives focus on both tiger conservation and community development in the region.

    5. **Tourism:** The Sundarbans Tiger Reserve also attracts tourists from around the world who come to explore its natural beauty and witness its wildlife. There are boat safaris and eco-tours available to experience this unique ecosystem while ensuring minimal disturbance to the wildlife.

    6. **Challenges:** The reserve faces challenges such as habitat loss due to climate change, human-wildlife conflicts, and the delicate balance of preserving this fragile ecosystem while meeting the needs of the local communities.

    Visiting the Sundarbans is not only an opportunity to spot the elusive Bengal tiger but also to appreciate the incredible biodiversity and ecological importance of this vast mangrove forest. It serves as a crucial reminder of the need for conservation efforts to protect both tigers and their unique habitats.