Buxa Tiger Reserve - West Bengal

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 13, 2022, 9:16

Spread across the hilly plains of North Bengal, the Buxa Tiger Reserve is unique to any protected area across India. Covering over 760 sq-km, this is a natural sanctuary for the Royal Bengal Tiger outside Sundarban in West Bengal. Buxa, a remote hamlet of Alipurduar, attracts countless trekkers, wildlife lovers, and naturalists every year.

The Buxa Tiger Reserve also houses the Sambar deer, Asian elephant, Indian leopard, Gaur and the clouded leopard. Starting from the Gangetic plains (elevation of 60 m), it reaches the Himalayan foothills at 1750 m.

History of the Buxa Tiger Reserve

Originally belonging to the King of Bhutan, the Buxa fort was notorious as a cellular jail during British rule. However, during the Chinese encroachment on Tibet, it served as a refuge centre for hundreds of Tibetan monks who fled from the Drepung monastery.

At present, the fort is an important tourist site and acts as a viewpoint to grab a favourable snap of the entire Buxa Tiger Reserve.

The Buxa Tiger Reserve was the 15th Tiger Reserve in India and the 2nd in West Bengal after the Sunderbans. With nearly 80% of the entire tiger population found in India, recent surveys have confirmed the doubling of the tiger population.

Its convenient location paved a natural corridor for the tiger movement from Bhutan to Brahmaputra valley (Manas Tiger Reserve) to Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary.

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Unique Flora and Fauna in the Buxa Tiger Reserve

The Himalayas are a unique nest of countless flora and faunas. The Buxa Tiger Reserve alone houses:

  • 450 tree species
  • 9-cane species
  • 250 varieties of shrubs
  • 10-bamboo species
  • 150 unique orchid species
  • 284 bird species (containing Amur falcon, Malayan night heron, stripe-breasted woodpecker)
  • 73 species of mammals (Chital deer, wild boar, Asiatic golden cats, hog deer)
  • Great hornbill, multiple species of vultures, black stork and Eurasian teal

In addition, the Buxa Tiger Reserve lies south of the Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary (Bhutan) and west of the Manas National Park of Assam. It's connected to the Jaldapara National Park through the Chilapata Forests along the southwest. These five protected biospheres make for the natural corridor for Asian elephants, which roam around Assam to Bhutan and West Bengal.

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Tea Cultivation in the Buxa Tiger Reserve

Nesting in the bosom of the Himalayan foothills, the Buxa Tiger Reserve rests between the Sinchula Hills, with plenty of rivers (Churnia, Dima, Jayanti, Nonani, Phashkhawa, Raidak, Sankosh, Turturi) flowing over it.

This location has the rare combination of hills, rivers and forests mutually overlapping, a leading factor for possessing many species, including endemic varieties. It makes the location ideal for cultivating tea with Bharnabari, Beech and Dalsingpara tea estates nearby.

The Buxa Tiger Reserve creates a unique ecosystem comprising rivers flowing down from Bhutan. Thanks to its location over the Jalpaiguri district, it's a crucial buffer for free tiger movement, vital for enhancing the big cat count. It is also a critical conservation site rated as IUCN category 2, making it a National Park.

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FAQs on Buxa Tiger Reserve

Q.1. What is the status of the Buxa Tiger Reserve?

Buxa Tiger Reserve became a National Park in January 1992.

Q.2. Does Buxa Tiger Reserve house Tigers?

As per the last National Tiger Counting Authority (NTCA) survey, there are no tigers in the Buxa Tiger Reserve.

Q.3. What's the best time to visit the Buxa Tiger Reserve?

You can visit the Buxa Tiger Reserve anytime round the year except during monsoons. The safari stays closed between June-September for bad roads and unpleasant weather.

Q.4. When was the Buxa Tiger Reserve established?

Established in 1983, the Buxa Tiger Reserve was the 15th tiger reserve in India.

Q.5. Who's in charge of the Buxa Tiger Reserve?

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF), the Government of India and the forest department of the Government of West Bengal handle the overall maintenance of the Buxa Tiger Reserve.