similipal biosphere reserve

Discover India’s 6th Largest Biosphere Reserve- Similipal Biosphere Reserve

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Similipal Biosphere Reserve: Odisha

Similipal biosphere reserve contributes 38% of the total area of the Protected Area network in Odisha. It is the sixth-largest biosphere reserve in India, one of India’s oldest tiger reserves, and a major biodiversity hotspot in Eastern India.

The Similipal Biosphere Reserve covers an area of 5569 sq km, and the forests constitute 22% of the geographical area, out of which 5% of its area falls under the Protected Area network.

The government notified the Similipal Biosphere Reserve on June 22, 1994. It comprises the entire Similipal sanctuary (core and buffer together), the adjoining Nato and Satkoshia Reserve Forests, forming additional buffers, and a belt of approximately 10 KM in width around the entire buffer designated as the “transition zone”. The total area of Similipal Biosphere Reserve is 5569 sq. km.

similipal biosphere reserve area

Designation Date as MAB:  similipal biosphere reserve unesco2009
Surface area (terrestrial):556,900 ha.
Core area (s): 84,500 ha
Buffer area (s): 212,900 ha
Transition area (s): 259,500 ha
Location 
Latitude: 21°10’N – 22°12’N
Longitude: 85°58’E – 86°42’E

Similipal Tiger Reserve

where is simlipal bio reserve located? The Similipal Tiger Reserve is located in the Mayurbhanj District of Odisha’s northernmost region. The terrain is mostly undulating and hilly, with open grasslands and dispersed wooded areas. The inclined plateau rises abruptly from the district’s low coastal plains. The steep side faces the Bay of Bengal and runs northwards, eventually merging with Chhota Nagpur. The water level is high, and the track is woven with perennial water sources that flow into rivers such as the Budhabalanga, Salandi, and many tributaries of the Baitarani river that flow from the reserve.

rajmahal hills map
rajmahal hills map

Area of the tiger reserve

Core/critical tiger habitat1194.75
Buffer/peripheral area1555.25
Total2750.00 sq.km.
similipal tiger reserve
similipal tiger reserve
similipal tiger reserve

Similipal Biosphere Reserve History

Simlipal was designated as a wildlife sanctuary by the Odisha government in 1979, covering an area of 2,200 square kilometres. Later, in 1980, the state government proposed turning 303 square kilometres of the sanctuary into a national park. Furthermore, the national park’s area was expanded to 845.70 square kilometres in 1986. Simlipal was designated a biosphere reserve by the Indian government in 1994. In May 2009, UNESCO added the Similipal Biosphere Reserve to its list of biosphere reserves.

Fauna in Simlipal Biosphere Reserve

  • Similipal has the greatest number of elephants (Elephas maximus) in Odisha. Indian bison can be found in a few isolated places in herds ranging from 8 to 20 animals. Sambar, Chital, Barking deer, and Mouse deer are the most common deer species in Similipal.
  • Carnivores: Tigers and leopards are examples of large carnivores. Other species include the Leopard cat, Fishing Cat, Jungle Cat, Wolf, Jackal, and Hyaena.
  • Ratel, Civet, Giant Squirrel, Flying squirrel, Mongoose, Pangolin, Hare, Langur, and Rhesus Macaque are other important Similipal mammalian species.
  • Mugger Crocodiles: A sizable population of Mugger Crocodiles may be found in Similipal’s river system and perennial streams. Python, King Cobra, Common Cobra, Krait and Viper, among others, have been found in the area.

Similipal biosphere reserve tribes

The Similipal Biosphere Reserve is home to many different tribes who have lived in the area for centuries. The reserve is a haven for these tribes, providing them with a place to live and worship in peace. The tribes have a strong connection to the land and the animals. They rely on the forest for their food and shelter and use traditional hunting and gathering methods to survive. The Similipal Biosphere Reserve is an important part of their culture and heritage.

The reserve’s forests are home to two tribes: the Erenga Kharias and the Mankirdias, who engage in traditional agricultural activities. Among the other dominant tribes are the Ho, Gonda, and Munda. The cultural significance of Similipal is characterised by stories and paintings from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Puranas. For example, a sacred grove known as Shami Vrikhya is said to have been the secret hiding place of Arjuna’s bow and arrows. 

similipal biosphere reserve river.

The water level is high here. The area is woven with perennial water sources converging into rivers like Budhabalanga, Salandi, and many tributaries of the Baitarani river flowing from the reserve. There are numerous watercourses and two permanent waterfalls, namely Barehipani (400 m) and Joranda (150 m).

Baitarani river
Baitarani river

similipal biosphere reserve map

similipal biosphere reserve
similipal biosphere reserve

Geography and climate

  • Relatively higher annual precipitation of over 200 cm spread over about 135 days.
  • Khariburu and Meghasini hills range from 40 mts. to 1168 mts. (Khairiburu and Meghasini hills).
  • Valleys in central and south Similipal show a degree of floral and faunal composition that resembles those of the Western Ghats and north-east India while being a representative ecosystem within the Mahanadian bio-geographic region.

Wildfire Ravages Similipal, Asia’s Second Largest Biosphere Reserve

Simlipal biosphere reserve witnessed a massive fire in February 2021, which raged the forest for almost an entire week.

With the arrival of summer and the end of autumn, the forest area remains prone to forest fires. They are an annual occurrence, but they are also brought under control due to the brief period of precipitation. A large forest fire was reported for the last time in 2015. This period corresponds to the shedding of deciduous forests in forest areas. Fallen leaves are more prone to catching fire and quickly spreading forest fires throughout the forest region.

How are these forest fires controlled and prevented?

Natural rains are usually enough to put out such wildfires. Forecasting fire-prone days and involving community members to reduce fire incidences are strategies used to avoid fires. Other methods include establishing fire lines, cleaning places of dried biomass, and cracking down on poachers. Forest fire lines, which are strips of land kept clean of vegetation, aid in dividing the forest into compartments and preventing fires from spreading.

The Similipal biosphere reserve is located in the Mayurbhanj District of Odisha’s northernmost region. The terrain is mostly undulating and hilly, with open grasslands and dispersed wooded areas.

WORLD NETWORK of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR)

What is Biosphere

The Biosphere includes all the living components of the Earth. It consists of all plants and animals, including all the microorganisms that live on Earth and their interactions with the surrounding environment.

Most of the organisms exist in the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, and the atmosphere. Many organisms move freely from one realm to the other. All these together constitute the Biosphere.

How many biosphere reserves are there in India?

There are 18 Biosphere reserves in India, of which 12 are also part of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme.

Biosphere reserves in india map
Biosphere reserves in india map

Biosphere reserves

  • Biosphere reserves are sites established by countries to protect and preserve them. The Indian government first notifies biosphere reserves in India. Later, some of them were recognised by UNESCO under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science.
  • UNESCO initiated the programme of Biosphere Reserve in 1971.
  • The Objective of forming the biosphere reserves is to conserve in situ all forms of life, along with their support Platform, in totality. Hence, it May serve as a referral system for monitoring and evaluating changes in Organic ecosystems. The first biosphere reserve of the world was established in 1979; since then System of biosphere reserves has Risen to 631 in 119 countries Around the World.
  • UNESCO definition of the Biosphere reserve

There are 727 biosphere reserves in 131 countries, with 22 of them being transboundary. They are distributed in the following manner:

  • 86 sites in 31 African countries.
  • 35 sites in 14 Arab countries.
  • 168 locations in 40 Asian and Pacific countries.
  • 306 locations in 24 European and North American countries.
  • 132 locations in 22 Latin American and Caribbean countries.

What are the biosphere reserves?

Biosphere reserves are sites established by countries to protect and preserve them. The Indian government first notified biosphere reserves in India. Later, some of them were recognised by UNESCO under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science.

The Objective of forming the biosphere reserves is to conserve in situ all forms of life, along with their support Platform, in totality. Hence, it May serve as a referral system for monitoring and evaluating changes in Organic ecosystems. The first biosphere reserve of the world was established in 1979; since then, the System of biosphere reserves has Risen to 727 biosphere reserves in 131 countries worldwide.

How many biosphere reserves?

The first biosphere reserve of the world was established in 1979; since then, the System of biosphere reserves has Risen to 727 biosphere reserves in 131 countries worldwide. 

  • 86 sites in 31 African countries.
  • 35 sites in 14 Arab countries.
  • 168 locations in 40 Asian and Pacific countries.
  • 306 locations in 24 European and North American countries.
  • 132 locations in 22 Latin American and Caribbean countries.
unesco-biosphere-reserve-in-india
unesco-biosphere-reserve-in-india

What is the purpose of making national parks wildlife sanctuaries and biosphere reserves?

Biosphere Reserves involves the local communities and other interested stakeholders in planning and management. Biosphere Reserves in India or any part of the world are formed to achieve three main “functions”:

  • 1. Conservation of biodiversity and cultural diversity inside the reserve.
  • 2. Economic development of the reserve that is socio-culturally and environmentally sustainable.
  • 3. To provide Logistic support and achieve development through research, monitoring, education and training.

What are the three zones of a biosphere reserve?

The zonation of each biosphere reserve in India or any other Biosphere reserve should include: 

  • Core area: Human interference in the core area is restricted. 
  • Buffer zone: Buffer zone generally surrounds or adjoins the core regions and can be used for activities compatible with sound environmental practices.
  • Transition area: It is the outermost area of the Biosphere Reserves.
zones of biosphere reserve
zones of biosphere reserve
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