An integral part of Similipal Tiger Reserve spread over 2750 km2 constituted during 1973, Similipal, is declared as a wildlife sanctuary during 1979 covering an area of 2271.78 km2. It is also part of Similipal Biosphere Reserve and an area measuring 845.70 km2 in the core of Similipal has been proposed as Similipal National Park since 1980.
Similipal is located between 210 28’ to 220 08’ North Latitude and 860 04’ to 860 37’ East longitude in the district of Mayurbhanj in Odisha state.
Similipal Forests was brought under the fold of management through a Forest Policy pronounced by the then Maharaja of Mayurbhanj in the year 1885. The wildlife in Similipal Forests was managed primarily for recreation of the Royal family and their guests. Elephant catching through ‘Kheda’ operation was a regular practice. ‘Akhand Shikar’ (tribal hunt) was celebrated continuously for five to seven days during the month of April every year. The forest was worked as per the Working Plan prepared by Mr. C.C. Hart in 1896-97 till 1946, through lease and contract. The main purpose of timber harvesting was to earn revenue for the Royal exchequer. Since 1946, the forest was exploited systematically as per prescription of Working Plan till merger of the ex-state in the Union of India on 6th November 1948, which became part of Orissa a district on 1st January 1949. Despite practising commercial forestry, supplying railway sleepers and other utility timber outside Mayurbhanj, the ruler was very rigid in his forest protection measures and employed large number of forest staff, much higher in number in comparison to other princely states and even the directly British administered areas with good network of forest roads and communication facilities. The protection of forest suffered a set back after independence due to issue of liberal shooting permits. Although there was depletion of wildlife still the number of tigers inhabiting the area was potentially high. The era of protection of forestry started ushering in strict protection measures for the wildlife after declaration of Similipal Tiger Reserve during the year 1973 with Shri S.R. Choudhury as the first Field Director as per policy of Govt. of India under “Project Tiger”. Similipal Tiger Reserve created with the adjoining forest blocks of Similipal RF extending over 2750 km2 . Then Similipal Reserved Forest was notified as proposed sanctuary on 3rd December 1979 which was followed in quick succession on 6th August 1980 and 11th June 1986 bringing the total core area of Similipal Tiger Reserve measuring 845.70 Sq km declaring intention of the Govt. to form Similipal National Park. Similipal Forest Development Corporation was created to exploit the timber strictly as per Working Plan prescriptions with Departmental Officers in order to make good of the loss of habitat by working through contractors. The Corporation exploited timber and NWFP from 1979 to 1988 after which complete moratorium on tree felling was imposed. There are 64 villages located inside the sanctuary and about 1200 villages on the periphery with sizable population who dependant on the forest to meet their day to day requirement and supplementing their income through collection of NTFP items. As per Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme of UNESCO the Similipal Biosphere Reserve covering an area of 5569 km was created in order to bring the human population to the fold of management along with the Biosphere with a view to reduce the dependency on forest through Eco-development programmes. Considering the potential viability of floral and faunal biodiversity, the development of eco-tourism in Similipal was taken up with tourist facilitation services under management of Forest Department. In the year 2006, Similipal Eco-tourism Society was created with official and non-official members for management, development and propagation of Eco-tourism in the region.
The terrain starts from coastal plains and rises up to 1168 mtrs above MSL. It is studded with deep gorges, peaks and wide valleys with an arterial network of perennial streams.
Similipal experiences three distinct climates i.e. summer, monsoonal winter. The summer season is confined from March to May with a maximum temperature of 30 0C and is very pleasant. The rainy season starts from June and continues upto October. The maximum precipitation is 2000 mm. In winter season, November to February, temperature goes upto 2.5 0C with experience of frost in pockets.
Similipal is a blend of Western Ghat, Eastern Ghat and Sub-Himalayan species with 1076 flowering species and 96 species of orchids. The following five forest types are met with in the landscape
Northern Tropical Semi-evergreen forests
Northern Tropical Moist deciduous forests
Dry deciduous hill forests.
High level Sal forests
Similipal is home to a range of wild animals including 55 species of mammals, 304 species of birds, 20 species of amphibians, 62 species of reptiles and 37 species of fishes.
Mammals: Tiger, Leopard, Elephant, Bison, Bear, Ratel, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Mouse Deer, Barking Deer, Wild Boar, Chowsingha, Ruddy Mongoose,
Pangolin, Giant Squirrel, Flying Squirrel, Otter, Hanuman langur, Rh. Macaque.
Birds: Pea Fowl, Red Jungle Fowl, Hornbill, Hill Myna, Grey Wagtail, Alexandrine Parakeet, Serpent Eagle.
Reptiles: Python, King Cobra, Viper, Banded Krait, Monitor Lizard, Forest Calotes, Chameleon, Mugger Crocodile, Black Turtle, Tent Turtle