Punjab is known for its fertile lands, numerous rivers, lush greenery and abundant bio-diversity. This agrarian state has more than 84% of its land under agricultural cultivation. A majority of the bio-diversity lies in the Shivalik region of the state and in some parts of the plains, which include the Pangolin, otters, elephants, river dolphins, deer, black bear and the royal Bengal tiger. Other than these animals, the State is also a stopover point for a variety of migratory birds that come here. The state animal of Punjab is the black buck, housing the largest population of the species in one of its wildlife sanctuaries. Let us look at the top five national parks or wildlife sanctuaries of Punjab.
1. Abohar Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in Ferozepur district, the Abohar wildlife Sanctuary is renowned for its legacy of wildlife conservation. It is famous because of the way local Bishnoi community got together to protect the State animal, the Black Buck. After this initiative, the number of black bucks in the state has drastically increased. This wildlife sanctuary is abundant in black bucks, wild boars and antelopes that graze freely on the fertile grasslands. A must visits for its serenity, the Abohar wildlife sanctuary is a beautiful place for witnessing nature at its best!
2. Harike Wildlife Sanctuary
Harike Wildlife Sanctuary is located near the rivers Beas and Sutluj. Known for the Ramsar site which is home to numerous waterfalls, the sanctuary is home to a variety of fauna and flora. One of the major activities here is bird-watching with about a hundred different birds coming here fr0m all over the world during winters. The Harike lake is famous for housing fresh water dolphins which is a major attraction amongst tourists. Among the animals found here, some are; common teal, darter, purple moorhen, goose and pochards.
3. Jhajjar Bacholi
Located near Anandpur Sahib city bordering Himachal Pradesh, Jhajjar Bacholi in the Shivalik region is known for its leopard sightings. Many species of animals such as sambar, beer, jackals and snakes like pythons are found here. This region is known for its bio-diversity and has been featured in the news for the occasional migratory leopards prowling across the sanctuary.
4. Bir Moti Bagh Wildlife Sanctuary
Under the erstwhile Patiala state, the royals of the princely state were known to have used Bir Moti Bagh Wildlife Sanctuary as a hunting area during their rules. Due to this association with the legacy of the rulers of the area, the sanctuary is also home to numerous forts and monuments’ that are from that era. The sanctuary is known for its protected forests and a zoo frequented by tourists located at the borders of the sanctuary. The animals found here are the famous blackbucks, chitals, wild boars, partridges and quails.
5. Bir Bhadson Wildlife Sanctuary
Known to be one of the largest secured wildlife sanctuaries, the Bir Bhadson Wildlife Sanctuary is located in West Punjab. Spread across 1022 hectares, this sanctuary was also known as a hunting place for erstwhile rulers of the area. It has been protected and preserved as a hunting area now re-established as a wildlife sanctuary. Among the animals found here, jackals, bulls, parakeets and the rhesus monkeys are the major attractions. Tourists can stay in the nearby Nabha town while visiting the sanctuary which also has its own railway station. Best for a quick short getaway, this sanctuary is the perfect blend of history and preservation of flora and fauna!
Punjab is widely known for its vast green fields and agricultural history, but the state also has a wide range of wildlife sanctuaries that can be visited to experience the wildlife of the region from close quarters. The abundance of forests and greenery only adds to the cause of wildlife preservation. Visit Punjab for an experience of a lifetime mixed with the richness of the historical legacy of erstwhile royalty!