©Wikimedia Commons/ Byomakesh07
Similipal Biosphere Reserve, India

Located in northeast India, the Similipal Biosphere Reserve lies within two biogeographical regions: the Mahanadian east coastal region of the Oriental realm and the Chhotanagpur biotic province of the Deccan peninsular zone. Volcanic sedimentary rocks are aligned in three concentric rings and accentuate the area’s geologic formations. The highest peak in the Similipal hill range is Khairiburu (1,168 metres). Numerous waterfalls and perennial streams flow into major rivers, such as the Budhabalang, Baitarani and Subarnarekha.

Designation Date: 2009
Administrative Authorities: Director of Similipal Biosphere Reserve; Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) & Chief Wildlife Warden; Deputy Director of Similipal Tiger Reserve; Divisional Forest Officer of Karanjia; Divisional Forest Officer of Baripada; Divisional Forest Officer of Rairangpur
Surface area (terrestrial): 556,900 ha
Core area(s): 84,500 ha
Buffer area(s): 212,900 ha
Transition area(s): 259,500 ha


Latitude: 21°10'N – 22°12'N
85°58'E – 86°42'E
Centre Point: 21°40'N – 86°19'E

Ecological Characteristics

©Wikimedia Commons/ Sourabh Biswas
Similipal Biosphere Reserve, India

The biosphere reserve has the largest zone of Sal in all of India. In addition, the tropical monsoon climate provides ideal circumstances for the development of a distinctive biodiversity, highlighted by 1,076 species of vascular plants. Among them are 93 species of orchids, 300 species of medicinal plants and 52 species of endangered flora. Two endemic Orchid species are Eria meghasaniensis and Tainia hookeriana. Other noteworthy flora species include Callicarpa arborea (a species of beautyberry), Bombax ceiba (Cotton tree) and Madhuca longifolia (Mahua).

Altogether, the biosphere reserve is home to 42 mammal species, 264 bird species, 39 reptile species and 12 amphibian species. Moreover, approximately 52 fauna species are endangered. Paradoxus jorandensis is an example of a valuable and endemic fauna species within the area. In addition, Panthera tigris tigris (Royal Bengal Tiger) and Elephas maximus (Asiatic Elephant) have both been observed within the Similipal Biosphere Reserve.

Socio-Economic Characteristics

©Wikimedia Commons/ Tropenmuseum
Similipal Biosphere Reserve, India

Altogether, 1,265 villages are located within the biosphere reserve. Approximately 73% of all inhabitants are Aboriginals. Two tribes, the Erenga Kharias and the Mankirdias, inhabit the reserve’s forests and practise traditional agricultural activities (the collection of seeds and timber). Other dominant tribes include the Ho, Gonda and Munda, among others. Similipal’s cultural significance is characterized by stories and paintings that date back to the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas, many of which mention local sites linked with specific mythological stories. For example, a sacred grove called Shami Vrikhya is said to have been the secret hiding place of the bow and arrow of the hero Arjuna. Other writings allude to certain domiciles of the Goddess Ambika, or mention a sacred bathing place of Lord ShriRam.

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                                                                                   Last update: January 2015

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