The Palamau Tiger Reserve was one of the first 9 reserves to be brought under the umbrella of the Project Tiger in 1973. Spread over 1,026 sq km of untamed wilderness, the Palamau tiger reserve is famous for its magnificent wildlife and scenic, undulating terrain. The tiger reserve encompasses the Betla National Park (226 sq km), which makes the core area of the reserve, and the Palamau Sanctuary (980 sq km). There are 107 villages in the buffer area and 3 in the core area. The core is distributed in 2 parts- the actual core and the recently inducted 'Satellite core'. This core area was declared a National Park in September, 1989.
Wildlife in Palamau Tiger Reserve :
The Palamau Tiger Reserve falls under the lndo-Malayan realm and is distinguished for its flora and fauna. The predators that roam the forest grounds are tigers, leopards, wolves, wild dogs and jungle cats. Among the heribivores, there are sloth bear, four horned antelope and mouse dear. Interestingly the first ever tiger census by way of pug mark count, was undertaken within these forests way back in 1934. Since the first census, population of tigers showed a steady decline till 1972, when their number dwindled down to 17. However, after the declaration of the Sanctuary, it is stated, the number showed a rise reaching a figure of 55 in 1989. The 1991 census figure shows the tiger population as 54. This figure quoted by the Palamau Tiger Reserve authorities is purely indicative and not absolute.
Beasts and Humans Inside the Reserve
The villagers who reside within the Palamau Tiger Reserve are predominantly tribal, representing various ethnic groups like Munda, Kherwar, Chero, Birjia etc. These tribes once led a nomadic pattern of life style till the early part of this century and are extremely tolerant to wildlife and live in complete harmony with their natural environs.
However, the enormous pressure put on the resource base of Palamau Tiger Reserve is felt acutely with the passing of each day. Human needs, excrutiating poverty, and scarcity of resources can be identified as the prime factor responsible for man-animal confrontation, which is on the rise. Though a declared Tiger Reserve, minor forest produces like bamboo and others were allowed to be extracted from within the Buffer zones till the 1991 season.
Wildlife Population :
The population of elephants in Palamau has increased substantially during the past 50 years. Prior to 1920, this area had no elephant population but the 20 odd elephants released by the Maharaja of Surguja turned feral, subsequently increasing in number. The present elephant count exceeds 104 elephants which show addition of herds from the Singbhum district of Bihar.