Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Lal Sohanra National Park, Bahawalpur Pakistan

(Black Buck)
Lal Sohanra is a national park of Pakistan situated in Bahawalpur district. Like the  Changa Manga forest, it is one of several forests planted by the British to provide raw materials for railroad construction during their occupation of the Indian subcontinent. Lal Sohanra is spread over 153,000 acres (620 km2) and is notable for the diversity of its landscape, which includes areas of desert, forest and water.

Geography and Wildlife
The park itself is situated some 35 kilometres east of Bahawalpur and presents a synthesis of forest and desert life. It occupies land on both sides of Desert Branch canal, and is spread over an area of 127,480 acres (51,368 hectares) - out of which 20,974 acres (8,491 hectares) are green land (irrigated plantations), 101,726 acres (40,942 hectares) are dry land (desert), and 4,780 acres (1,935 hectares) are wet land (ponds and lakes). The park's terrain is generally flat, interspersed with sand dunes measuring between 1 and 6 meters in height and occupying as many as thousands of acres apiece.

Many species of animals can be found throughout the park. These include several wild animals of the desert such as wildcatsrabbitsbustards, and deer. Reptiles in the park include the Monitor lizardRussell's ViperIndian CobraSaw Scaled ViperWolf Snake, John's Sand Boa, and Spiny Tailed Lizard. More than 160 species of birds are also present, including the Houbara BustardGriffon VultureHoney BuzzardMarsh HarrierHen HarrierLaggar FalconPeregrine FalconKestrel, Indian Sparrow HawkEgyptian VultureLarkShrikeWheatear, and Barn Owl. Patisar Lake, a large body of water in the center of the park, is ideal for bird watching. In mid-winter, the lake is regularly home to between 10,000 and 30,000 ducks and common coot.

The Punjab government has plans to convert the Lal Sohanra National Park into a wildlife safari park of international standard. One of its most prominent attractions is currently the lion safari, which allows guests to see lions in their natural habitat at close range. In addition, the park's captive breeding suite holds a pair of Rhinoceros which were gifted from Nepal. Rhinoceros were once found as far west as the Peshawar Valley during the reign of Mughal Emperor Babur, but are now extinct in Pakistan and western India.

Over 400 animals are currently being bred in the Lal Sohanra Park, including a large population of Blackbucks, a breed of antelope most notable for its pronounced sexual dimorphism. The park is constantly supplied with new Blackbucks in order to extend its efforts toward Blackbuck conservation.

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