Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary is situated in the Banaskantha district in the Indian state of Gujarat
at the Gujarat-Rajasthan border. It was declared as a sanctuary in May 1978, covering an area of about 180 square kilometres (69 sq mi), principally for protection of the sloth bear, which is now categorized as "Vulnerable A2cd+4cd;C1 ver 3.1" as per IUCN red list. Their numbers is declining in the wild and are threatened with extinction.
Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Government of India
, Forest Department of Gujarat, well known Institutes and Universities of the country, stakeholders and local communities in and around the project area have been engaged in Conservation and Sustainable Management of Dryland Biodiversity of North Gujarat under a GEF/UNDP supported project with the objective of conservation of globally significant biodiversity. The two projects identified under the programme, as demonstration project sites were the Jessore and Balaram-Ambaji
Sanctuaries. The information gathered under this project in respect of the Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary has enhanced the information base and is expected to help in building local establishments to adopt novel ideas to resolve the threats faced by the sanctuary.
The sanctuary is located in the Jessore hills of Aravalli hills, to the north of the Thar desert. It was declared a sanctuary covering an area of 180.66 square kilometres (69.75 sq mi) in 1978.The sanctuary area lies between the desert ecosystem and the dry deciduous type of ecosystem, and the forested area helps in arresting desertification and advancement of Thar desert.
The nearest airport is Ahmedabad
is 190 kilometres (120 mi) away. Nearest Railway station is at Palanpur
, 45 kilometres (28 mi) away and Iqbalgarh village is at 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) distance.The Sanctuary also houses two temples (one of them is the Kedarnath Mahadev temple), which are frequented by a large number of pilgrims during October–November, and a protected sacred grove.
Flora And Fauna:
The vegetation in the sanctuary consists of arid to semiarid and dry deciduous thorny scrub.A UNDP sponsored study of the Flora of the sanctuary has identified 406 species of plants (90 trees, 47 shrubs, 33 climbers, 194 herbs, 31 grasses, six pteridophytes, two bryophytes, one epiphyte, and two fungi). A further analysis indicates that the families of tree species are 13, shrubs 15, herbs 11 and climbers 13.
However, forest area is reportedly diminishing, and the corridor with hill area forests of Aravalli is also reducing, disrupting the migration of the bears. As a result, forest areas are reported only in patches. Prosopis juliflora called locally as gando baval has become the dominant vegetation affecting spread of local species, growth of goat and cattle population and forest fires; about 40 per cent of the green cover in the lower areas and 20 per cent in hilly regions are covered by this weed.
Apart from sloth bear, other fauna reported in the sanctuary are leopard, sambar, blue bull, wild boar, porcupine, and a variety of birds.Other endangered species harboured by the sanctuary are jungle cat, civet, caracal, wolf and hyena.
The faunal study by UNDP covered the herpetofaunal group. 14 species of amphibians and reptiles have been recorded here; the list includes Indian Python (Python molurus) an endangered species, Indian Flap-shelled Turtle (Lissemys punctata) of vulnerable category and Muggar (Crocodylus palustris) and Varanus (Varanus bengalensis) of endangered category. Threats faced by these species have been noted as water shortage, traffic, and hunting by snake charmers.Reptiles found also include cobra, krait, several types of viper and monitor lizard.
Studies of avifauna in the sanctuary revealed 105 species, including migratory birds. The list includes: four near threatened category birds comprising Grey jungle fowl (Gallus sonneratii), White-bellied Minivet (Pericrocotus erythropygus), Indian Black Ibis (Pseudibis papillosa) and Painted stork etc.
20 species of mammalian fauna have been identified. Of these Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) and Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) are near threatened and vulnerable respectively.
Sloth bear is an animal found in many parts of Asia
, Sri Lanka