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Introduction      

Buxa Tiger Reserve lies in Alipurduar sub-division of Jalpaiguri 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 & 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 North of BTR. Manas Tiger Reserve lies on east of BTR. BTR, thus, serves as international corridor for elephant migration between India and Bhutan. The reserve encompasses as many as eight forest types.

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Conservation History        

Buxa Tiger Reserve created in 1983 comprises of entire forest area of erstwhile Buxa Tiger Division and some territory of neighboring Cooch Behar Forest Division. In 1986, Buxa Wildlife Sanctuary was constituted over 314.52 sq. km. of the Reserve forests. In 1991, 54.47 sq. km. area was added to Buxa Wildlife Sanctuary. A year later, in 1992, Government. of West Bengal declared its intentions to constitute a National Park over 117.10 Sq. Km. of the Buxa Wildlife Sanctuary. State Government finally declared National Park vide notification No.3403-For/11B-6/95 dt. 05.12.1997.

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Census       

Species
1989
1992
1995
1997
 
  Indian Tiger
  33
  29
  31
  32
  Leopard
  50
  61
  70
  --
  Indian Elephant
  70
  84
  85
  --
  Gaur
  80
  --
  310
  --
  Sambhar
  50
  --
  80
  --
  Barking deer
  301
  --
  920
  --
  Hog deer
  50
  --
  110
  --
  Cheetal
  75
  --
  480
  --
  Wild Boar
  250
  --
  2600
  --
  Porcupine
  --
  --
  35
  --
  Civets
  --
  --
  315
  --
  Rhesus Macaque
  --
  --
  22000
  --
  Peacock
  --
  --
  2600
  --
  Jungle Fowl
  --
  --
  5500
  --
  Monitor Lizards
  --
  --
  120
  --
  Mongoose
  --
  --
  320
  --


Tiger Estimate

Year
Adult
Sub-Adult
Cubs
Total
             
 
Male
Female
Male
Female
Unsexed
 
             
  1989
  17
  16
  --
  --
  --
  33
  1992
  12
  12
  --
  --
  5
  29
  1995
  5
  5
  10
  8
  3
  31
  1997
  2
  6
  12
  12
  --
  32


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Archeology    

The historic Buxa fort (2600 feet above m.s.l.). People have sentimental attachment with the fort on accounts of its association with the struggle for freedom. A sacred temple - Mohakal - lies in BTR. Around 10,000 devotees of Lord Shiva congregate here on "Shiva Chouturdoshi".

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Forest Types   

Major Flora

More than 300 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.

Main Species

Sal, Champ, Gamar, Simul, Chikrasi.

Major Fauna

In the Reserve 390 species of birds, 73 species of mammals, 76 species of snakes, 5 species of amphibians have been identified so far.

Main Species

Asian Elephant, Tiger, Gaur, Wild boar, Sambar .

Endangered Species

Indian Tiger, Asian Elephant, Leopard cat, Bengal florican, Regal python, Chinese Pangolin, Hispid hare, Hog deer etc.

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Management   

Practices, Achievements and Shortfalls

No natural forests are now felled. Cane operation and bamboo operation have been stopped. This has halted habitat deterioration. Closure of all five dolomite mines operating in Phanskhawa and Hatipota forest of the Reserve is a positive development for habitat improvement.

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Special Projects   

New Initiatives

Eco-development

India Eco-development Project funded by World Bank under the Global Environment Facility is on in the Reserve. It contains components for improved P.A. management, village eco-development, extension and education, and research. There are 62 Forest Protection Committee (FPC)/ Eco-Development Committee (EDC) in and around BTR. The management is undertaking village eco-development on the basis of micro-plans prepared by villagers and forest personnel jointly. Currently, ecodeveopment activities as per micro-plan are being carried out by the 6 EDCs. Micro-plans for other villages are under preparation.

Protection Squads / Patrolling

Three mobile squads are currently operating in BTR. Most of the ranges have hired vehicles. All Range HQs are connected through R.T. Most of the important beats have R.T. sets. The management organises special camps on riverside during monsoon to stop theft through rafting. The management has three camps for Forest Protection Force in BTR.

Infrastructure and Facilities

Buxaduar and Rajabhatkhawa are two main centres for ecotourism. Enough dormitory accommodation is available. It is nature education tourism.

Education and Awareness

A Nature Education and Interpretation Centre has been established at Semadoh. Around 50 thousand people visit this centre annually. Two orientation centres at Akot and Harisal, and an interpretation centre at Amravati are also planned.




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Constraints     
Natural limiting factors

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.

Grazing

Over one lakh cattle graze in the Reserve daily. Weeds, unpalatable grasses and shrubs have invaded the over grazed areas.

Fire

Hilly, Bhabhar and riverine tracts of core suffer from fire. Generally NTFP collectors and shepherds put forests on fire.

Poaching of fauna and flora

No frequent poaching cases. Tribal population in tea gardens poach small mammals during Holi festival illicitly as part of ritual hunting.

Poaching Cases

     
Year
Species
No. of animals
  1991
  --
  Nil
  1992
  Elephant
  1
  1993
  Elephant
  1
  1994
  Elephant
Pangolin
  3
1
  1995
  Elephant
  1
  1996
  Elephant
Leopard Chital Bison
  3
1
3
1
  1997
  Elephant
  1

Offence Cases & Illegal Timber seized

Year
No. of offence cases
Quantity of timber seized (m3)
 
  1993-94
  751
  760.913
  1994-95
  818
  647.112
  1995-96
  820
  670.153
  1996-97
  1396
  1219.862
  1997-98
  2402
  1973.237
  1998-99
April- Sept. 98
  1340
  921.808
Total
  7527
  6193.085

Criminals and Extremists

Bodo militants from Assam occasionally enter core. Timber thieves operate in the area.

Diseases

Anthrax struck during 1993. HSBQ (Haemorhapic Septicmis and Block Quarter), Anthrax and FMD (Foot and Mouth Disease) strike occasionally. The management vaccinates fringe cattle for Anthrax, HSBQ, FMD.

Encroachment

Five forest compartments in hilly tract viz. Adma, Chunabhati, Santrabari, Tobgaon and Tashigaon have some encroachments by way of unauthorised Orange Orchards as follows.

Floods: Accelerated soil erosion in upper reaches & diminished carrying capacity of the rivers has made floods more frequent. River meandering is on rise. Bank failures are often seen. Some critical habitats are flooded and damaged. Deposition of sand slowly renders them barren.


Others

Tista Sankosh canal project threatens the core badly. It shall bisect the core east to west

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Conflicts    

Man-Animal

A total of 47 people died due to elephant and leopard attacks during 1988 to 1998 (11 years). During the same period 13 people sustained injuries.

Man-Forest

Mature teak plantations are the prime target. Gamar, Simul etc. are the secondary targets.

Wild Animal-Forest

Degrading habitat, especially in fringes, creates stressful situation for wildlife. Monocultures of teak, jarul etc. also creates stressful situation.

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Action Points

Control of fires through rigorous fire protection measures.
2.
Control of grazing through persuading people and providing better variety of milch cow and power tillers to replace draught animals.
3.
Empowering people through extension and education.
4 .
Strengthening P.A. management through increased infrastructural facilities.

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