Melghat Tiger Reserve
Home to as many as 35 tigers, Melghat Tiger Reserve is one of India’s most vital tiger breeding habitats. Spread over 1676 sq km. Melghat means meeting of the ghats and it aptly describes the region with its endless hills, cliffs and steep routes.
It was one of the first nine tiger reserves that were notified in 1973-74 under the Project Tiger. About 225 km west of Nagpur in Amravati district near the Madhya Pradesh-Maharashtra border, Melghat Tiger Reserve encompasses the Melghat Sanctuary and the Gugarnal National Park in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.
The region has cliffs and crevices that make it extremely difficult to explore and acts as a natural defence against encroachers. Teak and bamboo forests form the most important habitat for tigers. Despite being found in large numbers, tigers are not easy to spot in Melghat. You may have to wait for a long time to spot the majestic cats.
The reserve also has a healthy population of raptors and eagles making it a haven for birdwatchers. Leopards and other wild cats are aplenty in the region with packs of wild dogs known as Dholes, jackals and hyenas much easier to spot.
Wolves and foxes have also been spotted in the forest. There are about 250 species of birds and 16 species of snakes that have been spotted in the reserve.
Of the 1676 sq km area of the tiger reserve, Melghat Sanctuary covers an area of about 788 sq km, Gugarnal National Park covers an area of over 361 sq and about 526 sq km is reserve forest area. The Tapti River has five tributaries – Sipna, Gadga, Khandu, Dolar and Khapra, all of which flow through the reserve. Melghat forms the catchment area to several streams and rivers.
The mountains that form a part of the reserve vary in height ranging from 656 ft to 3864 ft with the Vairat Devi Point being the highest point in the reserve.
The Melghat tiger reserve is open to all from October to June.
- Permits need to be acquired from the Conservator of Forests and Field Director to trek in the reserve.
- If you see or come close to a predator then slowly walk away, do not panic and do not run.
- Do not smoke in the reserve as it is a fire hazard.