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Bandipur lies in the southern state of Karnataka. It stretches along the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border and lies on the Mysore - Ooty highway and covers a forest area of 874.2 square kilometers and 780-1455 m above sea level. The temperature in Bandipur ranges between 10 degrees and 35 degrees centigrade. The park has an average annual rainfall of 1200mm.
In 1973 Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary was designated as a tiger reserve. It became one of the sanctuaries selected across India for Project Tiger Scheme by the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature.The project is designed to save the tiger and its natural habitat from potential dangers. In 1974, the Bandipur was declared as a National Park under the Wildlife Protection Act.
The Bandipur National Park is covered with a mix of evergreen
forests, variety of animal species and rivers. It mainly consists
of medium sized hills with gentle slopes and shallow, heavily forested
valleys with a remarkable variety of flora and fauna.
The forest cover is very dense with vegetation like Teak, Honne, Tadasalu, Mathi, Nandi, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Bamboo, Nelli, Kooli, Kadu Tega, Dindalu, Bende, Randia and Flame of the Forest making up a major portion of the variety.
Some of the main animal species found in the park are Tigers, Leopards, Elephants, Gaurs, Sambar, Chital, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Black Napped Hare, Sloth Beer, Wild dog (Dhole), Langur, Bonnet Macaque, Indian Giant Red Squirrel, 4 Horned Antelope (Chausingha), Porcupines, Slender Loris, Jungle Cat, Leopard Cat, Rusty Spotted Cat, Small Indian Civet, Palm Civet, Common Otter, Wild Boar, Jackal, 4 varieties of Mongoose, Flying Squirrels, Pangolin, Giant Fruit Bats and Striped Hyenas.A lot of these species are seen close to the accommodation facilities available in the park. To get a closer view of the animals, one can book a 'Machan' near the watering hole.
Over 230 species of birds have been identified in the park. Some of the most notable ones are the Serpent Eagles, Shaheen Falcons, Crested Hawk Eagles, Ospreys, Gray Headed Firhings, Honey Buzzards, Malabar Pied Hornbills, Stork, Egret, Kite, Peafowl, Lapwing, Sandpiper, Drongo and the warbler, Hill Mynas, King Vultures, Malabar Trogon, Gray Partridges, Black Woodpeckers, Indian Pittas, Paradise Flycatchers, Cormorants, Teals, Ducks, Herons, Waders, Gray Jungle Fowl, Red Spur Fowl, Blue Bearded Bee-Eaters, Parakeets, Lesser Coucals, Scarlet Minivets, Fairy Blue Birds, Scimitar Babblers, Malabar Whistling Thrushes, Green Imperial Pigeons, Nightjars and Owls.
The Reptile family is represented by marsh Crocodiles, Monitor Lizards, Rock Pythons, Russel's Vipers, Cobras, Rat Snakes, Wolf Snakes, Indian python, Vine Snakes, Common Kraits, Green Keelbacks, Bamboo Pit Vipers, Turtles, Flying Lizards and many other varieties of snakes. Besides the animals, the park provides other interesting tourist places such as the Gopalaswami Betta and the Rolling Rocks the highest peak in the Bandipur range. Gopalaswami Betta provides a view of the Mysore plateau and its adjoining hills. The Rolling Rocks, to the south of the forest, offer views of the 260-meter-deep Mysore Ditch and the entire Moyar gorge. The entire park is well irrigated by four rivers, which are Kabini, Nagu, Mule-hole and Moyar. Kabini dam separates Bandipur from the Nagarhole reserve where as The Moyar River acts as a boundary between the park and the Madhumalai Sanctuary.
Bandipur is one of the best game sanctuaries in India to observe and photograph wildlife in close proximity. All visitors to Bandipur have to get entry permits at the entrance to the park. These cost about Rs 150 (for foreigners) and considerably less for Indians. Additional charges are levied for cameras, vehicles, and elephant or jeep rides.
Private vehicles are not allowed inside the park. The only means of transportation inside the park are open van and jeep run by park authorities. These vehicle carries its own experienced guide in spotting and identifying wildlife. The Forest Department also organizes elephant rides of about an hour (or more) each, which take you deeper into the forest. All these rides move into the park twice a day, early morning and towards afternoon. Human movement in the park is not allowed after dark. Forest Rest house for accommodation should be reserved in advance at the Forest Office in Bangalore or Mysore.