Nagarhole National Park (also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park), is a national park located in Kodagu district and Mysore district in Karnataka state in South India.
This park was declared the thirty seventh Project Tiger tiger reserve in 1999. It is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The Western Ghats Nilgiri Sub-Cluster of 6,000 sq km (2,300 sq mi), including all of Nagarhole National Park, is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site.
The park has rich forest cover, small streams, hills, valleys and waterfalls. The park has a healthy tiger-predator ratio, with many tigers, Indian bison and elephants.
The park ranges the foothills of the Western Ghats spreading down the Brahmagiri Hills and south towards Kerala state. The park covers 643 sq km (248 sq mi) located to the north-west of Bandipur National Park. The Kabini reservoir separates the two parks. Elevations of the park range from 687 to 960 m (2,254 to 3,150 ft). It is 50 km (31 mi) from the major city of Mysore.
Together with the adjoining Bandipur National Park (870 sq km (340 sq mi)), Mudumalai National Park (320 sq km (120 sq mi)) and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary sq (344 km (133 sq mi)), it forms the largest protected area in Southern India, totalling 2,183 sq km (843 sq mi).
The vegetation here consists mainly of North Western Ghats moist deciduous forests with (teak and rosewood predominating in the southern parts. There is Central Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests with Pala indigo and thorny wattle towards the east. There are some sub-montane valley swamp forests with several species of the Eugenia genus.
The main trees found are here are the commercially important rosewood, teak, sandalwood and silver oak. Species of trees of the dry deciduous forest include crocodile bark, Lagerstroemia lanceolata (crepe myrtle), Indian kino tree, Grewia tilaefolia, rosewood and axlewood. Other tree species that are seen in the forests are Lagerstroemia microcarpa (crepe myrtle), kadam, cotton tree, Schleichera trijuga and some species of ficus.
In the understorey, species found growing include Kydia calycina, Indian gooseberry and beechwood, Shrubs like horse nettles, tick clover, Helicteres species and invasive species like lantana and bonesets are found in abundance.
These forests have some conspicuous tree species such as golden shower tree, flame of the forest and clumping bamboo.
The park protects the wildlife of Karnataka. The important predators and carnivores in Nagarhole National Park are tiger, leopard, wild dog (dhole or Cuon alpinus), sloth bear and the hyena (Hyaena hyaena). The herbivores are spotted deer, sambar, barking deer, four-horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis), gaur (Bos gaurus), wild boar (Sus scrofa) and elephant. Nagarhole National Park provides an opportunity to see some of the southern population of gaur (jungle bison). Also, this park in Karnataka is a good place to see elephants in the luxuriant forests and bamboo thickets which they most enjoy.
Their total population in southern India is now about 6500, nearly all living in the area where Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala adjoin in the shadow of the Western Ghats. Other mammals includes the common langur (Presbytes entellus), bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata), jungle cat, slender loris (Loris tadigradus), leopard-cat (Felis bengalensis), civet cat (Viverricula indica and Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), mongoose (Herpestes fuscus and Herpestes vitticollis), common otter (Lutra lutra), giant flying squirrel (Petaurista petaurista), giant squirrel (Ratufa indica), porcupine, jackal, mouse-deer (Tragulus meminna), hare and pangolin (Manis crassicaudata). Over 250 species of birds are found at Nagarhole National Park. Besides the enormous variety of woodland birds, there are large congregations of waterfowl in the Kabini River. Birds range from blue-bearded bee-eater, scarlet minivet and Malabar whistling thrush to the more common ospreys, herons and ducks.
The park is usually closed for safaris during mating season of animals and during monsoon. Traffic movement is restricted from 6 pm to 6 am every day and the gates are closed on either sides of entry into the forest. Two wheelers, three wheelers and goods vehicles are not permitted inside the park.
The forest department houses visitors in lodges in the Murkal guest houses (approx 220 km from Bangalore) and also near the RFO office in the park itself. Safaris are organized in the forest department vans two time a day; early morning and evening.
Regular education camps are conducted for school children and the forest department provides special concessions for tours organized for school children.