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Satpura Tiger Reserve

Date of Submission: 13/04/2021
Criteria: (vii)(ix)(x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Madhya Pradesh
Coordinates: N22 30 27.30 E78 14 24.17
Ref.: 6532

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Satpura Tiger Reserve (STR) (2133.307 km2), located in Satpura ranges of Central Indian Landscape, is one of the major geographical plateau of India lies in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh (India). It is part of the Deccan bio-geographic zone of India (Rodgers and Panwar, 1988). Satpura Tiger Reserve’s environment stands out by its exquisite natural beauty and showcases the importance of tourism of this place. Satpura, basically meaning "Seven Folds", forms a watershed between Narmada and Tapti River is triangular in shape. It is one of the oldest forest reserves with a well-established tradition of scientific management of forests. Twenty-six species of the Himalayan region and 42 species of Nilgiri areas are found hence Satpura Tiger Reserve also known as the northern extremity of Western Ghats. Some of the species common to Satpura and Himalayas are Asterella khasiana, Bambusa polymorpha, Rubus ellipticus, Berberis asiatica. Examples of species common to Satpura and Western Ghats are, Cochlospermum religiosum, Pterocarpus santilenus (Red sandal). Archaeological significance of the place cannot be neglected considering more than 50 rock shelters with painting that are 1500 to 10,000 years old.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Nominated property Satpura Tiger Reserve is a prime example of a central Indian highlands eco-system. It is a unique area of high natural and diverse land resource values. It has many rare and endemic plants, especially bryophytes and pteridophytes like Psilotum, Cythea, Osmunda, Lycopodium, Lygodiumetc. At least 14 endangered species of mammals, birds and reptiles inhabit these forests. Satpura Tiger Reserve is also one of the globally significant landscape in terms of tiger conservation. It has the largest tiger-occupied forest, and it also has the largest tiger population (Jhala et al. 2010). Within the Central India landscape, there are several “units” with one or more breeding populations of tigers, known as source populations. The Satpura Tiger Reserve serves as one of the units of the major potential source populations for tigers. Satpura Tiger Reserve's unique feature is its connectivity with other tiger reserves makes this landscape suitable for a large population of tigers. Study reveals that tigers populated central India (Satpura-Maikal landscape) about 10000 year ago (Sandeep Sharma 2016). Satpura Tiger reserve is considered a relict site, representing some of the floral species common to Western Ghats and the Himalayas (Gopal, 2011). It, therefore, acts as a faunal bridge from the Himalayas to the Western Ghats, as stated in the "Satpura Hypothesis” (Hora, 1949).

Criterion (vii): Satpura National Park is unique than other National Parks in its beautiful silence where one can even hear the snoring of the beers and roaring of the tigers clearly with such stunning exceptional visual delights. Moreover, its location adds on to its aesthetic and incredible values. One can enjoy an adventurous time in Satpura National park, which is rich in its biodiversity and can feel the wildlife very closely.

Famous Hindi Poet Sh Bhawani Prasad Mishra in his one of the famous poetry draw a portrayal of the Satpura forest as below:

Satpura Ke Ghane Jungal (Satpura’s Dense Jungle)
Neend Me Doobe Huye Se (Sleepy and Drowsy Jungle)
Unghte Anmane Junga (Lazy and Lethargic Jungle)
Satpura Ke GhaneJungal (Satpura’s Dense Jungle)
Lataon ke Banne Jungal”  (Creepers Making Them Jungle)
(Bhawani Prasad Mishra)

Because of the scenic beauty, greenery, natural and pleasant climate, Pachmarhi is one of the region's most famous tourist destinations. The park has a beautiful landscape with the highest peaks (Dhoopgarh) in central India. Its unique geographical formations, dense forests, waterfalls, fauna, distinguished flora, rock shelters depicting ancient cultural heritage, pilgrim sites, colonial buildings and tribal culture make it one of the unique wildlife destinations. Satpura Tiger Reserve is bestowed with ruminants of cultural heritage. There are 55 rock shelters and many more to explore, which are 1500 to 10000 years old.  

Criterion (ix): The extent and rate of habitat loss and fragmentation indicate that population subdivision is an ongoing process in the tiger metapopulation of the central India (Satpura-Maikal) landscape. Globally accepted Satpura hypothesis explains how fishes migrated from the Assam (Garo) Hills via the Satpura (Rajmahal) Hills and descended into the Western Ghats through Gujarat. It, therefore, acts as a bridge from the Himalayas to the Western Ghats. Twenty-six species of the Himalayan region and 42 species of Nilgiri areas are found, due to which Satpura Tiger Reserve also known as the northern extremity of Western Ghats.

Criterion (x): The nominated property is the best example of in situ conservation. It is the part of the largest contiguous forest and tiger habitat in India. It also supports 17 percent of India’s tiger population and 12 percent of Its tiger habitat. One of the unique features of the landscape, which makes the area so important for tiger conservation, is the natural corridor connectivity between the tiger reserves. This connectivity makes this landscape suitable for supporting large tiger numbers with relatively low conflict with humans. The varied topography of the area and diverse edaphic and climatic conditions make it one of the most biodiversity-rich areas of the country. Some of the extremely rare and endangered species of flora are also found here. The Endemic and endangered species of plants found in Pachmarhi are Ficus cupulata Haines, Jasminum brevipetiolatum Duthie, Alsophila balakrishnanii Dixit, Psilotum nudum (L)P. Beauv, Leptochilus lanceolatus Fee, Angiopteris helferiana Presl, Eriocaulon polyceohalatum Hook,  Eriocaulon matrianum Wall, Platygyriella aurea (Schwaegr)Buck, Leucoloma amoene-virens Mitt., Meiothecium microcarpum (Hook) Mitt., Campylopus gracillis (mitt) A.Jaegar, Dicranella leptoneura Dixon, Fissidens asperisetus var andamanensis, Isoetespanchananii Pant and Srivast., Isoetes pantii Goswami and Arya, Leucas pachmarhiensis.

Freshwater red Alga Batrecospermummoniliforme is also recorded at nominated property. Two species of tree ferns Cythea gigantea and Cythea spinulosa are also found in Pachmarhi part of Satpura Tiger Reserve. The landscape is also a prime habitat for birds like Malabar pied hornbill, Malabar whistling thrush and the state bird of Madhya Pradesh State paradise flycatcher.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Satpura National Park has core area of 1339.27 km2 out of a total 2133.307km2, rest being in the buffer zone with a well-managed protection and management system to ensure its integrity. It is its own kind of protected area that is least commercialised to maintain its integrity and intactness. There is hardly any adverse effect of deterioration process seen over a significant period, and bio physical processes and landform features are relatively intact. The nominated property has 794 sq kms buffer zone, which is extremely important to ensure the integrity of the critical tiger habitat with adequate dispersal for tiger species, and aims at promoting co-existence between wildlife and human activity with due recognition of the livelihood, developmental, social and cultural rights of the local people. The Buffer Zone almost surrounds the nominated property. A typical geo-physiographical representative of the Central Indian Highlands, the Buffer Zone occupies the Eastern and Southern slopes of Satpura ridge. It forms part of an eco-region once renowned for un-fragmented forest tracts and pristine wilderness areas in India. This area is outstanding in its bio-diversity since a long ago. Natural terrain is both rugged as well as difficult to access. Several scientific studies have been done primarily on the tigers. The nominated property has a well-established management plan to protect and conserve its outstanding universal values.

Comparison with other similar properties

Comparison of Satpura National Park with other such National Park or Tiger reserves reassures its magnificent existence to be considered in the tentative listing for nominations for UNESCO'S Natural World Heritage Site. Following specific features can be highlighted, which make Satpura stands out amongst all formidably. The presence of rich biodiversity with a significant number of endangered flora and fauna and flora of medicinal use are the features similar to Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park, India. A vast protected area and UNESCO enlisted Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve exceptionally categorise Satpura National Park from other such destinations. In situ conservation of species can be efficiently managed and carried out along with good survival chances and remarkable population density of threatened species as in Manas Wildlife Sanctuary.

Sunderbans National Park, West Bangal (India) and The Sunderbans Bangladesh are similar sites having tiger populations but Satpura Tiger Reserve is an outstanding example of source population of tigers. Its connectivity with other tiger reserves through natural corridor makes the area unique and incomparable with other tiger populated area. Along with its unique features that support one of the viable population of Tigers and other faunal and floral species the nominate property also unique in terms of its cultural and human traditions. Evidence of the presence of more than 50 rock shelters aged between 1500 to 10000 years old having unique rock painting makes area outstanding from other similar sites.