BALASORE: A steep rise in tourist inflow at Kuldiha wildlife sanctuary in Balasore district has brought cheer to the forest authorities and wild life lovers. But, Similipal National Park located closer to Kuldiha registered less tourists than previous year.
As per the records, 5,304 tourists including 3,652 men, 1,587 women and 65 children visited Kuldiha sanctuary in 2013-14 while the number of tourists in 2012-13 was 4,277, including 2,799 men, 1,355 women and 126 children. The sanctuary is known for some rare species of animals and plants.
Balasore DFO Harsabardhan Udgata said the figure shows a rising trend. Every year, more and more tourists are coming here to visit the beautiful reserve forest famous for leopards and elephants. It is known to be the best place in the State to observe the wild elephants from a fairly close range, he said.
The thick wooded sanctuary spread across an area of 272.75 square km is home to wild animals like sambar, bison, gaur and giant squirrels besides leopards and elephants. The forest also houses a variety of birds like hornbills, hill myna and peafowl. The perennial streams in the forest are also home to a variety of reptiles.
Udgata said apart from the day visitors, hundreds of tourists stay overnight in the sanctuary every year. The sanctuary has only one location for night stay at Kuldiha. “But there are facilities both at Kuldiha and Jodachua for day halt and cooking. There are eco-guide facilities for the visitors. The local youths have been trained as eco-guides,” he said.
Though the number of domestic tourists to the sanctuary has been rising, that of foreign tourists is declining. While two international tourists visited the sanctuary last year, records indicated that not a single tourist from the overseas visited the reserve forest this year.
Wildlife lovers attributed the fall in foreign tourists to failure on the part of the forest authorities to promote the sanctuary.
Honourary Wildlife Warden Jayant Chandra Mardaraj Harichandan said the sanctuary should have a beautifully designed website like other sanctuaries in the country featuring the flora and fauna besides the facilities available here for the tourists. “The sanctuary should also have smooth road connectivity,” he said.
Encompassed in Nilagiri range of Balasore wildlife division, Kuldiha sanctuary is linked with Similipal through Sukhupada hills and Nato hill ranges. Two rest houses at Kuldiha and Jorachua and the perennial streams are treats for the visitors. In the moonlight, the scenes of elephants playing with their offsprings to get them salt balls, is truly enjoyable.