Rajaji National Park
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Rajaji National Park is an Indian national park that encompasses the Shivaliks, near the foothills of the Himalayas. It is spread over 820 km²., and three districts of Uttarakhand: Haridwar, Dehradun and Pauri Garhwal. In 1983, three wildlife sanctuaries in the area namely, Chilla, Motichur and Rajaji sanctuaries were merged into one.
Rajaji National Park has been named after C. Rajagopalachari (Rajaji), a prominent leader of the Freedom Struggle, the second and last Governor-General of independent India and one of the first recipients of India's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna (in 1954).
Rajaji National Park contains tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, in particular those of the Upper Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests ecoregion.
The forest ecosystems of the Park are quite varied and diverse. Plants such as shorea, mallotus, adina, terminalia, bridelia, dalbergia, acacia, syzygium and Phoebe are found in the Park and studies have revealed some important associations between them.
Rajaji National Park is predominantly formed from dense green jungles, and this environment forms a habitat for a number of animals. The Park is at the northwestern limit of distribution for both elephants and tigers in India, and has the largest population of elephants in Uttarakhand. Other wild animal species found in the Park include:
Over 315 species of birds are found in the Park, whereas the wider region has over 500 species of birds, including both residents and migrants. The most prominent avian species include pea fowl, woodpeckers, pheasants, kingfishers and barbets, supplemented by a number of migratory species during the winter months. The Park is also home to the Great Pied Hornbill, Himalayan Pied Kingfisher and the fire tailed sunbird. This area is the first staging ground after the migratory birds cross over the Himalayas into the Indian subcontinent.
The rivers which flow through the Park harbour species of fish such as trout and mahseer.
The Park has several gates, and is accessible from Dehradun, Kotdwar, Haridwar and Rishikesh. Saharanpur, which is linked by train to other parts of India, is another popular point to reach the Mohand area of the Park in nearly an hour by road.
Rajaji National Park was in the news in April 2010 when a forest fire which started on the fringes of the park, spread out over a large area and threatened the Chandi Devi Temple.
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