Kalesar National Park ( Declared in 2003), 150 km from Chandigarh, was in news recently for large scale illegal mining of sand by the builder/contractor lobby. NDTV has done a series on this in July 2007. The following
trip report is taken from the website of Wildlife Trust of India, written in 2002.
Kalesar – The Pride of Haryana
- Bivash Pandav
Pandav, what are you going to do this Saturday and Sunday? That’s what Dr. Johnsingh asked me over phone. I immediately knew that it must be for some week-end trip to some wildlife rich forest nearby. So quick came the reply from me, Sir
I am free. Next moment Dr. Johnsingh asked me how about going to Kalesar Wildlife Sanctuary in Haryana. The picture of Haryana in my mind was that of crop fields and Poplar (Populus deltoids) plantations. But what I saw after reaching Kalesar was an
eye opening experience.
We left Dehradun early in the morning and took the Kadwapani forest road north of Shivaliks but parallel to the hill range. Both sides of the road to Kadwapani have luxuriant growth of Sal. During my earlier visits to this forest (largely
on foot) I have had occasional encounters with sambar, barking deer, wild pig and Himalayan yellow-throated marten. As the northern slopes of Shivaliks are not ideal habitats for ungulates (because of absence of grass and dominance of unpalatable shrubs such
as Ardisia solanacea, Clerodendron viscosum, Colebrookia oppositifolia, and
Glycosmis pentaphylla in the understory), encounter rates of all these animals in this forest is extremely low. Moreover, the few herbivores inhabiting this patch of forest are also subjected to heavy poaching from nearby villagers. However, this Sal
patch on the northern slope of Shivalik hills is very rich in bird life. Flocks of White crested laughing thrush and four to five individuals of Indian pied hornbill in a flock are not an uncommon sight in this forest. After a drive of about 15km along this
road we reached Chakrata-Saharanpur road. Then we drove towards Saharanpur along the meandering road across the Shivaliks of Timli Forest Range.
Gujjar dheras were present here and there and from a distance the hills looked like an excellent goral habitat. Elephant dung in a few places in the
rau indicated the occasional visit of the pachyderms.
After reaching Badsahibag we left the Chakrata-Saharanpur road and took a right turn towards the Yamuna canal. The serene look of river Yamuna was quite exciting. Anyone who has seen Yamuna flowing near Delhi will hardly believe that the
water of Yamuna can be so clean and the sight of the river can be so refreshing here. But the serene look of river Yamuna and its refreshing environment was short lived for us and soon we came across large number of trucks and tractors on the river bed. All
of them were busy in removing sand and boulders from the river bed. All these boulders were being carried to a stone crushing unit located on the right bank of Yamuna.
All along the 10 km drive along the road which goes between the canal and Yamuna river, till Ponta Sahib, we saw good number of wintering ruddy shelducks. From Ponta Sahib, Kalesar is half an hour drive on the Dehradun-Yamunanagar road. As
we had informed Mr. Jakarty, Chief Wildlife Warden, Haryana, the wildlife staffs were waiting for us ready to take us into the forest to show us the tiger pug marks which they had located. The northern slope of Kalesar has Sal mixed forest. There are well
marked fire lines in the forest. In one of these fire lines we got down from the vehicle and started walking along Sukh rau. Azad Singh, the wildlife guard of Kalesar accompanying us showed us a several days old pug mark of a tiger in Sukh
rau. While inspecting the pug mark, Sultan Singh, another wildlife guard came and informed us about fresh tiger pugmark on the other end of Kalesar. We immediately decided to go and inspect this fresh pugmark which was in the Langdiwala
nullah of Amwali khole (khole is the local name for river in Kalesar part of Haryana). The pugmark looked like that of an adult male. The nullah got narrower further upstream. The pugmark was quite fresh and we tracked it for 500 m along the
nullah. On our way back we had a beautiful sighting of two gorals, a mother with a young. After seeing us both ran in different directions. It was amazing to see the mother goral negotiating the >70o
slope effortlessly. Soon both joined and went out of our sight.
On our return from the forest, in the evening we went to the village Mamduwas, located on the right bank of Yamuna where nearly a month ago the pug mark of one tiger crossing the river from Uttar Pradesh (Shivalik Forest Division) side was
seen. Most probably the tiger had made use of the aqueduct below the Yamuna canal and had walked upstream of Yamuna before crossing over to Haryana border. The riverbed being used by the tiger was heavily disturbed by people who were busy loading stones in
trucks and tractors which were moving in and out of the river bed. Standing on the bank of Yamuna it was very difficult for me to believe that a shy animal like a tiger still makes use of this heavily disturbed river bed. But the truth was a tiger was using
this area and there were pugmarks to prove this.
Kalesar Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses an area of roughly around 100 km2 and does not have any human habitation inside. On the north western side the forest of Kalesar
is contiguous with the Simbalwara Wildlife Sanctuary of Himachal Pardesh. On the eastern side the Shivalik range extends till Panchkula. The remaining sides are surrounded by crop fields and dense human habitation. I learnt from Dr. Johnsingh that every winter
one or two tigers from Shivalik Forest Division still cross Yamuna and use the forests of Kalesar and Simbalwara WLS.
In fact the very next day while walking along the Kaludev Khala (Khala is the local name of river in Simbalwara part of Himachal Pradesh), we came across fresh pug marks of a tiger/ess. With adequate protection
both these wildlife sanctuaries can definitely support a good prey population for tiger. And then a contiguous patch of about 150 km2 forests can definitely support one or two tigers
year round. Kalesar and its adjoining forests definitely have the potential of becoming a home for a small population of tiger provided the contiguity of forests between Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are maintained and the disturbances in the Yamuna river are
totally eradicated in the area where the tiger/s cross. A co-ordinated effort from the UP and Haryana forest departments can definitely make Kalesar the pride of Haryana.