Nagarhole National Park of Karnataka serves as home to some of the most endangered wildlife species.
The term Nagarhole is a combination of two Kannada terms, ‘Nagara’ meaning ‘Cobra’ and ‘Hole’ meaning ‘River’. This National Park has been named after the river ‘Nagarhole’ which snakes through its rich tropical forests. Set up in 1955 in Coorg, in an area of 285 sq km, the park was accorded the status of a National Park and extended in 1974, with some reserved forests from the Mysore district being added, to bring the total area to the present 644 sq km. In 2000, the park was brought under ‘Project Tiger’.
The Kabini dam submerged large tracts of forest creating a huge lake, parts of which are within the national park. During the dry season, the lake dries out, leaving only the main river visible. The resulting open plain creates an abundance of fresh grass, more reminiscent of African savanna than tropical India. This unique microhabitat has proved to be a boon for the park, providing fresh grass when the rest of the park is drying out.
The river Kabini originates in the Wayanad district of Kerala, flows eastward to join the river Cauvery, which empties into the Bay of Bengal. This is the largest river in the Nagarhole National Park and was dammed in 1974 for an irrigation project. This becomes the life-giving source for the park during the summer months, attracting the largest concentration of Asiatic Elephants and other herbivores. The river separates Bandipur and Nagarhole National Parks.