wildlife watchers in India, Dudhwa is Billy Arjan Singh country. Long before
the rest of the world had even heard of this amazing wilderness, Billy, a tough
and determined man, chose to make Dudhwa his home with the express purpose of
saving its tigers.
With its fine sal forests and dense thickets that open abruptly into magnificent grasslands, the habitat has become one of India's most vibrant and exciting wildlife reserves -- and one of the most vulnerable. Dudhwa is often called The Last Terai, since it holds remains of the dense forests that once existed along the foothills of the Himalayas.
An aura of mystery and prehistoric nostalgia envelops you as you enter Dudhwa. In these forests lurks the unexpected. Here species threatened across India continue to thrive. It is also one of the best spots on earth to watch birds. But life is not easy in Dudhwa. It has always been a land where you have to struggle to succeed.
The area comprising the forest was once the playground of the big game hunters.
Full of jheels (lakes) and marshland -- which have now been converted to paddy
and sugarcane fields -- this was once the heart of the most extensive swamp
Called barasingha, or 12-pointed deer, the animals had caught the imagination of the huntsmen. Predictably, their population dwindled in the crossfire of hunting and habitat loss. Today, as the grass bursts forth after the monsoon in the protected confines of the park, the barasingha herds can be seen raising their antlers skywards, assured of survival at least for now.
The barasingha is a vital prey species for the tiger. These deer originally triggered conservation efforts here and the fact that both predator and prey continue to be relatively safe in Dudhwa speaks volumes for Project Tiger's essential strategy: Save the habitat if you want to save the wildlife.
Among Dudhwa's successes is the introduction of a small herd of Indian one-horned rhinoceri into the Park (which shares a border with Nepal) in 1984 with the active involvement of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.