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Pilibhit's Riverine Ecosystem: Beyond Tigers And Into Nature's Lap

by Nimisha Tewari 15 Feb 2024

The riverine ecosystem of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve is a vital component of its biodiversity, contributing to the richness and diversity of the entire landscape. The reserve, located in the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh, India, is crisscrossed by several rivers and streams, creating a dynamic and thriving environment. Let's delve into the key aspects of Pilibhit's riverine ecosystem:

1. Rivers of Pilibhit:

  • Sharda River: The Sharda River, also known as the Mahakali River, is one of the major rivers flowing through Pilibhit. It originates in the Himalayas and traverses through the reserve, shaping its topography.

  • Gerua River: Another significant river, the Gerua, meanders through Pilibhit, contributing to the formation of the diverse habitats within the reserve.

  • Khakra River: The Khakra River is a tributary of the Sharda River and plays a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance of Pilibhit.

2. Flora Along Riverbanks:

  • The riverbanks of Pilibhit are adorned with lush vegetation, creating a unique habitat for diverse plant species. Riparian flora, including trees, shrubs and grasses, thrives in the water-rich environment.

  • Common species along the riverbanks include species like kadam, khair, mahua and various grasses that provide food and shelter for the wildlife.

3. Aquatic Fauna:

  • Gharials: Pilibhit is renowned for being a stronghold of the critically endangered gharials. The Sharda River serves as a crucial breeding ground for these long-snouted crocodilians.

  • Marsh Crocodiles: Alongside gharials, marsh crocodiles inhabit the riverine areas, contributing to the aquatic biodiversity.

  • Fish Diversity: The rivers of Pilibhit support a diverse range of fish species. These include mahseer, catfish and various other freshwater species that form a vital part of the food web.

4. Avian Diversity:

  • Pilibhit's riverine ecosystem is a haven for avian enthusiasts. Kingfishers, herons, egrets and storks are commonly spotted along the riverbanks, making it a hotspot for birdwatching.

  • Migratory birds also visit the rivers during specific seasons, adding to the avian diversity of the region.


5. Mammals Dependent on Rivers:

  • Elephants, deer and other herbivores frequent the rivers to quench their thirst and engage in activities like bathing, especially during the dry seasons.

  • Predators such as tigers and leopards may use the rivers as natural corridors, utilizing them for movement across the landscape.

6. Interconnected Habitats:

  • The riverine ecosystem is intricately connected to other habitats within Pilibhit, including grasslands, forests and wetlands. This interconnectivity enhances the overall biodiversity of the reserve.

7. Conservation Challenges and Efforts:

  • Challenges such as pollution, habitat degradation, and human-wildlife conflict impact the riverine ecosystem. Conservation efforts focus on mitigating these challenges through habitat restoration, anti-poaching measures and community involvement.

8. Ecotourism Along Rivers:

  • Riverine safaris and ecotourism initiatives provide visitors with an opportunity to explore the beauty of Pilibhit's rivers. These experiences promote awareness and contribute to the local economy while ensuring minimal impact on the environment.

Conclusion: The riverine ecosystem of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve is a dynamic and integral part of its natural heritage. Beyond its scenic beauty, the rivers play a vital role in sustaining diverse flora and fauna, making Pilibhit a unique and invaluable landscape for conservation and responsible eco-tourism.

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