The Dudhwa Tiger Reserve of Uttar Pradesh includes the Dudhwa National Park, and two nearby Sanctuaries, viz. Kishanpur and Katerniaghat and Pilibhit Tiger reserve. It is close to the Indo-Nepal border. Founded by relentless efforts of Legendary Prince turned Conservationist Late Shri Billy Arjan SIngh, Dudhwa is a nature lover's forest. Home to Tigers, Asian Elephants, Rhinos, Sloth Bears, Crocodiles, Otters, and over 450 species of birds, this is also one of the most scenic Sal Forest of India. The thick undergrowth does not help in tracking Tigers in this park, but the touch of suspense and expectation will keep you up and about during the safari. My (Sharad Vats) lifetime of a sighting has happenned in this park. A Tiger stalking, and trying to bring down an Elephant calf with it's mother managing to save him, but watching this duel has left an indelible mark on my mind. November to April is good time to visit. Winters are very misty with no sun at times during safaris, but a unique experience. Accommodation is available inside the National park in the Forest rest houses. They are basic, but great location advantage. So should you be keen to rough out a bit, and enjoy nature to the fullest stay in the forest rest house is recommended.
The Dudhwa Tiger Reserve of Uttar Pradesh includes the Dudhwa National Park, and two nearby Sanctuaries, viz. Kishanpur and Katerniaghat, besides forest areas of North Kheri, South Kheri and Shahjahanpur forest divisions in its buffer. The Dudhwa National Park is close to the Indo-Nepal border in the Palia and Nighasan tehsil of district Lakhimpur-Kheri. The Kishanpur Sanctuary is stretched over Gola and Powayan tehsils of Lakhimpur and Shahjahanpur districts respectively. The Katerniaghat Sanctuary is located in the Nanpara tehsil of district Bahraich, with the Indo-Nepal border constituting its Northern boundary.
The area of the park is a vast alluvial plain and is the doab of Mohana and Suheli rivers. The under-lying soil consists of alluvial formation of the Gangetic plains. The area is scoured with channels of numerous large and small water courses. There are a number of rivers and rivulets in the habitat, which include: Suheli, Mohana, Joraha, Nagrol, Nakua and Newra, besides Sharda and Ull.
The Dudhwa National Park is a typical Tarai-Bhabar habitat of the upper Gangetic plains (7a) Bio-geographic province. The vegetation of the area is of North Indian Moist Deciduous type.
The Katerniaghat portion has a Terai habitat, having linkages with the Royal Bardia National Park of Nepal to the North and the Dudhwa National Park to its West.
The flora is predominantly Sal forest alongwith its associate tree species like Terminalia alata (Asna), Lagerstroemia parviflora (Asidha), Adina cordifolia (Haldu), Mitragyna parviflora (Faldu), Gmelina arborea (Gahmhar), Holoptelea intgrifolia (Kanju), Acacia catechu (Khair), Pterocarpus marsupium (Vija sal), Kydia calyina (Poola), Lannea coromandelica (Jhigan) and Toona ciliate (Toon). Others include: Murraya koenigii (Kath neem), Grawia hirsute (Van Tulsi), Malloutus phillipensis (Rohni) and grasses like -Phragmites karka (Narkul), Cynodon dactylon (Doob), Vetiveria zizanioides (Khaskhas) and Erianthus munj (Moonj).
The major mammals include: Panthera pardus (Guldar), Panthera tigris (Tiger), Felis viverrina (Fishing cat), Macaca mulatta (Monkey), Presbytis entellus (Langur), Herpestes edwardsi (Mongoose), Herpestes auropunetatus (Small Indian Mongoose), Viverricula indica (small Indian civet), Canis aureus (Jackal), Mellivora capensis (Honey Badger), Lutra perspicillata (smooth Indian Otter), Boselaphus tragocamelus (Blue bull), Axis axis (Spotted Deer), Axis porcinus (Hog Deer), Muntiacus muntjak (Barking Deer), Cervus duvaceli (Swamp deer), Cervus unicolor (Sambhar), Sus scrofa (Wild Boar), Rhinoceros unicornis (Great Indian Rhino), Elephant maximus (Asian Elephant) and Lepus nigricollis (Hare).
Birds include a wide variety of species, which include migratory and resident ones. As many as 423 species have been observed in the habitat, which include: Podiceps ruficollis (Dabchick), Pelicnus philipensis (spotbilled pelican), Phalacrocorax carbo (Large cornorant), Phalacrocorax niger (Little cormorant), Ardea cinera (Grey Heron), Ciconia ciconia (White stork), Ciconia nigra (Black storck), Threskiornis aethiopica (White Ibis), Gyps indicus (India Longbilled Vulture), Pandion haliatus (Osprey), Gallus gallus (Red jungle Fowl), Grus antigone (Sarus Crane), Amaurornis phoenicurus (white Breasted water hen) and Ninox scutulata (Brown Hawk owl).
Reptiles include: Mugger, Ghariyal, Python, Sandboa, Banded krait, Russel’s viper, Rat snake, Monitor lizard and King Cobra. There are several fishes, which include: Rohu, Singhi and Kacehala.
The reserve has a good tiger status owing to its connectivity with other tiger habitats like Pilibhit and tiger bearing forests of Nepal. The tiger density for the landscape, as assessed during the 2010 country level assessment, is 5.4 tigers per 100 sq.km.
The Northern and North-Western boundaries of the Dudhwa National Park lie along the Indo-Nepal international border, while its Eastern and Southern borders are surrounded by agriculture land. A railway line and PWD road pass through the National Park. The Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary makes border with Nepal on its North Eastern side, and is bounded by agricultural lands of Bahraich and Kheri Districts on its Western and Southern sides. The National Park area has seven human settlements. The Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary portion of the core is devoid of human settlements, whereas some villages are present in Katerniaghat. Thus, the core area of the reserve is prone to biotic disturbances and requires ongoing vigil and protection, besides mitigation measures to prevent train and road hits of wild animals.
The buffer area is subjected to ongoing forestry practices and has considerable biotic pressure. The co-occurrence agenda to benefit people and wildlife is essential here.
The linkages between Dudhwa, Katerniaghat and Kishanpur are important owing to movement of wild animals between the protected areas. The Dudhwa-Katerniaghat linkage along the Mohana river is deforested and requires restoration. The connectivity of Dudhwa with Laljhari is crucial for movement of elephants and other wild animals from Nepal. The Kishanpur Sanctuary is linked with the Lagga-Bagga forest of Pilibhit and the Shuklaphanta Sanctuary of Nepal. The Khata corridor along the Girwa river connects Katerniaghat to Berdia and is often used by elephants, tigers and rhinos. The river channels in this landscape also serve as conduit for Gharial, Crocodile and Gangetic river Dolphin. These corridor linkages require monitoring and protection.
Day to day monitoring of tiger, protection, coordination with Nepal, addressing the resource dependency of peripheral villages and human-wildlife conflicts are important.
Stepped up protection, tiger monitoring, in-situ conservation of rhinos and mitigation strategy during floods.