Rarely visited, excellent Tiger and Rhino country

Dudhwa National Park

After decades of being camera shy, tigers here are now increasingly comfortable with safari vehicles.

Rarely visited, excellent Tiger and Rhino country

Dudhwa borders Nepal, part of the Terai region inhabited by the artistic Tharu people. It is a mix of moist grasslands and sal-dominated forests, almost contiguous with Nepal’s Royal Bardia and Sukla Phanta Reserves. The river Mohana roughly demarcates the border with Nepal.

Rhinos, once widespread, were hunted to extinction in these parts by the late 19th century. In 1985, two males and five females were transferred to Dudhwa from Assam, and by 2022 the rhino population has grown to around 40.

Home to half the world’s population of the rare Swamp Deer (Barasingha), Dudhwa has five types of deer – sambar deer, barking deer, spotted deer, hog deer and swamp deer.

The elusive Hispid Hare, last seen in 1951 and presumed locally extinct for years, was rediscovered in 1984. Marsh crocodiles and otters can usually be seen on the sandy river banks.

This mix of swamp, lake, grassland, riverine and forested habitats is home to nearly 400 species of birds, including the Bengal Florican, one of the rarest bustards whose mating rituals bring birdwatchers here annually.

Dudhwa's Saviour

Dudhwa, in all fairness should’ve been named after ‘Billy’ Arjan Singh, the untiring environmentalist who singlehandedly saved this vast expanse of the terai’s alluvial plains from poachers, game hunters, and politically backed demands for agricultural land and timber. His stubborn persistence won the backing of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, and Dudhwa was declared a sanctuary in 1965 saving it from certain ruin. Subsequently upgraded to a national park in 1977, it became a Project Tiger reserve in 1987.

Billy successfully weaned Tara, a tiger cub from Twycross Zoo from her domesticated life back to a naturally wild life in these jungles. He also rewilded two leopards in Dudhwa. Despite opposition from other conservation experts and nay-sayers, his re-introduction experiments succeeded. You might even be lucky enough to see descendants of these big cats on your visit.

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