The Fauna in Ranthambhore National Park
Ranthambhore's unique climatic and vegetational features have given rise to forests that are dry and open with little and stunted ground cover. This makes wildlife viewing relatively easier on the safari. There are over 320 species of birds, both resident and migratory, over 40 species of mammals and over 35 species of reptiles. Due to the dry climate there are not many species of amphibians in Ranthambore national park.
Besides tigers, the other wild cats found in Ranthambhore tiger reserve are Leopards, Caracals, Jungle cats, Rusty Spotted cats. Fishing Cats and Leopard cats have also been reported but their sightings are yet to be verified. The ungulates include Sambhar, Spotted deer (Chital), Blue bull (Nilgai), Chinkara (Indian gazelle) and Wild boar. The other large mammals that can be seen in Ranthambore tiger reserve are the Sloth bear, Indian fox, Jackal, the extremely occasional Wolf, very few Indian wild dogs (Dhole), Small Indian Civet, Palm civet, Common Indian and Ruddy mongoose and Striped Hyena.
Common species of Ranthambhore and their preffered habitat
Tiger - Dense cover in the valleys and riverine areas
Leopard - Dense cover in the higher slopes and forest edge
Jungle Cat - Scrub and grasslands and undergrowth in valleys
Caracal - Streams, Open scrub and grasslands
Rusty Spotted cat - Thorny trees, scrubland and cultivated areas
Sambar deer - Thick cover in valleys, gentle slopes and dangs
Chital or Spotted deer - Open spaces and riverine areas in forests
Nilgai or Antelope - Open dry scrub land, grasslands and forest edge
Chinkara or gazelle - Open scrub and grasslands in hilly areas
Wild Boar - Open spaces and riverine areas in forests
Sloth Bear - Dense riverine areas, khos and rocky areas
Jackal - Open scrub and forest edges
Hyena - Dense cover along streams, khos & riverine areas
Indian Palm Civet - Large trees and undergrowth in moist areas
Common Mongoose - Dense cover in moist areas and forest edges
Ruddy Mongoose - Dense cover in moist areas and forest edges
Indian Porcupine - Dense cover in riverine areas and rocky hillsides
Indian Hare - Open scrub and grasslands
Indian Flying Fox - Large trees in moist, low lying areas
Marsh Crocodile - Wetlands
Bengal Monitor Lizard - Dense undergrowth, large trees and rocky areas
Indian Rock Python - Dense undergrowth in valleys and rocky areas
Saw-scaled Viper - Open scrub and sandy soil
Indian Rat Snake - Dense undergrowth and cultivated areas
Indian Bull Frog - Wetlands
Skittering Frog - Wetlands
Common Indian Toad - Cool, moist and dark areas.
Human activity, such as, unplanned and illegal felling of trees, quarrying, farming and excessive grazing has greatly diminished wildlife outside the Ranthambhore project tiger reserve.
Habitat wise distribution of wildlife of Ranthambhore
Dangs: These are flat tabletop plateaus, surrounded by bold vertical cliffs. The soil depth is very shallow and there is hardly any water except in shallow constructed ponds and some moisture in depressions. In the summer season the dangs look deserted due to dry leafless A. pendula (Dhok) trees and lack of water. The main animals of the area are Chinkara, Nilgai, Hare, Fox, Jackal and Hyena. Avifauna is represented by Seed eating birds, Larks, Francolins, Quails, Sand grouse and Thicknees etc. During rainy season Dangs are lush green with small water pools every where and the ungulates like Chital, Sambar and Wild boar visit the areas to feed on the profuse green fodder. Carnivore like Leopards, Smaller cats and Tigers follow them.
Khohs: These are deep rocky nallahs (seasonal streams) cut up in the dangs. They are characterized by steep rocky slopes and cliffs, flat bottoms with deep and fertile soil. A number of water pools are found in the bottom and small perennial springs on slopes, even during the very hot and dry summers. Khohs are cool, moist and alive throughout the year. The khohs are the main wild life areas of reserve, specially outside the national park. Nearly all the species of mammals are found in these, khohs. The avifauna is represented by Peafowl, Minivets, Flycatcher, Tits, Orioles and various other birds. All the species visit the upper plateau or dang area during night in search of food and specially during monsoons when khohs are wet and full of tormenting insects.
Streams: These are areas where water flows and remains for a longer period than other areas. These constitute the drainage of watersheds and are found in folds of hills. Most of these finally join Banas and /or Chambal. In these areas, even in the hot summer when other areas are dry and hardly have any natural water, some small pools exist. The area around the pools are characterized by a belt of green trees in the summer. These networks of riparian belts are the life line of wild life in this dry deciduous area. Such areas are home of all species of wild life, except Chinkara, which is essentially an animal of dry land. All animals are found within riparian area, except during rainy season when streams are fast flowing. From February till the onset of monsoon the riparian areas are extensively used by all the wild life.
Valleys: The terrain of reserve is hilly and there are large numbers of valleys in the area. These areas lie between two hills with flat bottom and rich soil and as a result the vegetation is good. Some water remains in the nallahs in small water pools and provide sustenance to wild life during hot dry summer. Valleys are rich in wild life and almost all the species are found here. Tigers, Sambhar, Chital, Wild boar, smaller cats, Caracal, Chinkara, Nilgai etc. are present throughout the year. In the valleys some good grasslands are also available which provide ideal cover for tigers and other smaller cats, along with ground birds. The avifauna is represented by Peacock, Partridges, Green Pigeons, Parakeets, Sparrows, Prinias, Warblers etc.
Ravines: Both banks of the river Chambal and Banas are cut up by these ravines due to the sandy and easily erodable soil of these areas. These ravines are up to 50 meters deep with precipitous narrow gullies. Major portion of the ravine areas have been leveled and ploughed by the villagers, but some areas are still wild. There are a few water holes in the ravines but since the rivers are close by this is not a major limiting factor for the wildlife. Since the area is flooded during monsoon and remains dry during summer with water available only in the river, the animal density of the area is generally lower. The main species are Chinkara, Nilgai, Wild boar, Hare, Hyena and many kinds of lesser mammals. The avifauna is represented by Peacock, River birds, Francolins, Sand grouse etc.
Wetlands: There are a few areas, with in the reserve, where water remains standing throughout the year. Due to the presence of water these areas become the centre of activity of animals both wild and domestic. These water bodies contain a variety of aquatic fauna and flora, according to the depth of the water bodies. Along with aquatic fauna which includes turtle, crocodiles, fish, water birds, frogs, crabs and other small creatures, a lot of terrestrial fauna also use wetlands. The aquatic fauna constitutes an integral and important part of this ecosystem. After monsoons, the area of the water body is at its maximum and during winter the water line starts receding and fresh land comes out of water. During summer season when the surrounding areas are dry and there is no green fodder or grass the newly sprouted green grass in the area available due to receding of water attracts Sambhar, Cheetal and Wild boar. Sambhar and Wild boar also feed on aquatic vegetation. Invariably, the large predators follow them and these areas become main centre of activity of tigers.