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The National Park was established as the 18th tiger reserve in 1990 and ranks fourth in the density of tiger population.
In 1978, the Government of Bihar declared an area of 464.60 sq. km., which now forms the Reserve, as Wildlife Sanctuary, and in 1989, the national park and sanctuary were added to the area of the reserve. Later on, in 1990, 419.18 sq. km. was added to the Sanctuary, totalling to 880.78 sq. km.
The park derived its name from Valmiki Nagar, a town located within the forest area. Since, the park is surrounded by dense and deep pockets of forests, the only entrance to the tiger reserve is through the town of Valmiki Nagar.
The Rivers Gandak and Masan flow through this area. The Gandak River, with the Himalayan Mountain Range as a backdrop offers breathtaking views which is a haven for photographers.
There is a Valmiki Ashram located at a distance of about 7 kms from Valmikinagar, which holds great religious importance for Hindus. According to popular belief, it is here, the sage Valmiki wrote the great epic Ramayana. Nearby, there are many temples like the Jatashankar Temple, Kaleshwar Temple and the Nardevi Temple located within 5 km of the tiger reserve. There are 8 villages in the buffer area but no habitation in the core area.
Along with 28 tigers, the common animals in this reserve include Rhinoceros, Black bear, hyena, Leopard cat, Wild cat, fishing cat, Languor, Monkey, Flying squirrel, Leopard, Wild dog, Wild buffalo, Wild boar etc. Several species of deer and antelopes found in this reserve which includes barking deer, spotted deer, Hog deer, Shambhar, Blue bull etc. The flying fox is also residents of Valmiki Tiger Resereve and there is sight in Madanpur forest block on the main road from Madanpur to Valmikinagar where large number of Indian flying fox can be spotted.
A wide variety of reptile inhabitants including Python, Cobra, King cobra, Krait, Banded krait, Crocodiles, Otters, Ghariyal, Monitor lizard, etc. are found in this reserve. Belahwa Village near to Valmiki Tiger Reserve is the best spot to find crocodiles. Ghariyals are also found in river Gandak.
Among the 241 bird species, most common are Nepal kaleej pheasant, Three-toed quail, Flycatcher, Grey shrike, Green willow warbler, Tree pipit, White eye, Green barbet, Waders, Ibises, Storks, Pitta, Plovers, Snipes, Pied hornbill, Emerald dove, Owls, Nightjars, Pigeons etc. It is also a habitat of numerous butterflies. Some common butterflies like common mormon, great mormon, glassy tiger, great eggfly, club beak, grey pansy, lime butterfly, common crow etc.
The land vegetation is typical Moist mixed deciduous, Open- land vegetation, Sub-mountainous semi-evergreen formation, Freshwater swamps, Riparian fringes, Alluvial grasslands and high hill savannah, Wetlands
Some of the major tree species found within the Sal (Shorea robusta), Karam (Adina cardifolia), Asan (Terminalia tomentosa), Bahera (Terminalia balerica), Asidh (Lagestromia parviflora), Simal (Salmelia malaberica), Satsal (Dalbergia latifolia), etc.
The grasses found in VTR are munj (Saccharum munja), Kans (Saccharum spontanum), Elephant grass (Typha elephantina), Narkat (Phragmites karka), Vitiveria zizanioides, Imperata cylindrica, Choranth (Heteropogon contortus), Sabai(Eulaliopsis binata), etc.
The main climbers found in this area are Mahulan (Bauhinia vahlii) Mahai (Butea parviflora), Panilat (Vitis repanda), Ramdatwan (Smilax parviflora), Arar (Acacia pinnata) etc.
The area is rich in Medicinal plants. Some of them are Satawar (Asparagus racemosus), Safed Musli, Dudhkoraiya (Holarrahena antidysenterica), Amla (Emblica officinalis), Piper (Piper longum),etc.
The best way to travel around the park is various jungle safaris that are arranged by the forest department.