Nagarhole National Park or Rajiv Gandhi National Park

In India there are, as of July 2018, a total of 104 National Parks (NP). The first national park was established in 1936 i.e. the Hailey National Park which is today called as the Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand. One of the 104 NP’s is the Nagarhole NP located in Karnataka. But before we talk about Nagarhole, let’s just briefly discuss what a National Park is and about all 5 NP’s of Karnataka.

What is a National Park:

A National park is an area which is strictly reserved for the betterment of the wildlife & biodiversity, and where activities like developmental, forestry, poaching, hunting and grazing on cultivation are not permitted. Their boundaries are well marked and circumscribed. They are usually small reserves spreading in an area of 100 sq. km. to 500 sq. km. In national parks, the emphasis is generally on the preservation of a single floral or faunal species.

The 5 National Parks of Karnataka:

Karnataka has a total of 5 NP’s. The oldest and the biggest in area of them all is the Bandipur National Park. Here is a list of NP’s in Karnataka. Name of National Parks, Year of Notification and Total Area is as follows-

S. No. Name of National Park Year of Notification Total Area(km²)
1 Anshi National Park 1987 417.37
2 Bandipur National Park 1974 874.2
3 Bannerghatta National Park 1974 260.51
4 Kudremukh National Park 1987 600.32
5 Rajiv Gandhi (Nagarahole) National Park 1988 643.39


Where is Nagarhole or Rajiv Gandhi NP:

It is located in Kodagu and Mysore districts of southern Karnataka. It forms a picturesque landscape as it is located in the foothills of the misty blue Brahmagiri mountain ranges.  The term ‘Nagarhole’ is a combination of two Kannada terms, ‘Naga’ meaning ‘snake’ and ‘Hole’ meaning ‘streams’, named after the river Nagarhole (Cobra river in the local language, Kannada) which runs eastwards through the park. Other adjacent rivers include River Kabini, River Lakshmantirtha, River Sarati hole, and River Balle Halla.

Of the total 643 km2 area of Nagarhole NP, 354 km2 area falls in Mysore district while the remaining 288 km2 comes in Kodagu district. Some facts about Nagarhole:

1955 – It was declared a sanctuary with an area of just 258 km2.

1983 – It was declared as a NP with 643 km2 as its area.

1999 – It was declared as the 37th tiger reserve of India.

Nagarahole NP forms a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (1986) and together with Bandipur NP and Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary to its South East and Wayanad (350 sq. kms) to the South-West, is one of the last remaining and best protected habitats for endangered species like the Elephant and the Tiger. Covered chiefly by moist and dry deciduous forests, this NP is home to many endangered species like four-horned antelope, sloth bear, wild Boar, giant squirrel, elephants.

Sloth Bear
Four-Horned Antelope



Tribal Population around Nagarhole NP:

  1. Jenu Kurubas: They are the primary inhabitants of the forest area around Nagarhole NP. They are traditional food gatherers and honey collectors. They are excellent climbers and are skilled in the use of bows and arrows. Jenu in their local language means ‘honey’.
  2. Betta Kurubas: They are also food gatherers. They specialize in crafting bamboo utensils.
  3. Yeravas: They are also food gatherers and specialize in fishing. The Yeravas practice sustenance agriculture. The Pani Yeravas and Panjeri Yeravas are the sub-tribes of the larger Yerava community.
  4. Soligas: They are food gatherers who have diversified into marginal agriculture and herding goats.


Some recent threats:

  1. Timber Smuggling: Smuggling of sandalwood and teak trees has often been reported here.
  2. Poaching: Poaching of birds and other mammals is another serious issue here. A high number of elephant deaths have been reported from this park and hunting of animals and birds is the biggest threat to wildlife here.
  3. Cattle Disease: Disease outbreaks among the cattle have been recorded. An outbreak of rabies that resulted in four cattle deaths and affecting 25-30 cattle was reported in 2005.
  4. Forest Fires: In January, 2012, there was a catastrophic forest fire that destroyed over 6,000 acres (2,400 ha) of forest. Huge trees were reduced to cinder. Burnt remains of snakes, monitor lizards, giant malabar squirrels lay scattered on the charred remains of what was once a verdant patch of moist-deciduous forest.
  5. Human Wildlife Conflict: Many human wildlife conflicts have been reported from here. Often the villagers feel the threat from animals that escape from the boundaries of NP. In October 2018, a tigress mauled down 6 cows and 20 sheep in the nearby village of Agasanahundi.