Monday, July 3, 2023

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve UPSC

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve is a renowned protected area located in the state of Odisha, India. The reserve is recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, highlighting its significance in terms of ecological conservation and sustainable development.

Established in 1994, Simlipal Biosphere Reserve derives its name from the Simlipal National Park, which forms the core area of the reserve. The Simlipal National Park is named after the Semul or red silk cotton trees (Bombax ceiba) that are found abundantly in the region. The national park itself covers an area of around 845 square kilometers (326 square miles) and is known for its rich biodiversity. 

Simlipal is home to several endangered and endemic species, including the Royal Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, Indian bison (gaur), and mugger crocodile. The forests of Simlipal are primarily composed of tropical moist deciduous and tropical dry deciduous trees, along with bamboo groves. The Sal trees (Shorea robusta) are particularly prominent in the region.

Table of Contents

  • Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Location
  • Simlipal Biosphere Reserve History
  • Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Area
  • Simlipal Biosphere Reserve River
  • Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Waterfalls
  • Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Tribe
  • Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Flora
  • Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Fauna
    • Mammals
    • Birds
    • Reptile
  • Top Things to do in Simlipal Biosphere Reserve
  • Simlipal Biosphere Reserve UPSC Questions

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Location

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve is located in the Mayurbhanj district of the state of Odisha, India. It is situated in the eastern part of the country, approximately 250 kilometers (155 miles) southwest of the capital city, Bhubaneswar. The reserve is nestled in the northeastern region of Odisha, near the Jharkhand border.

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Nearest Airport:

The nearest airport to Simlipal Biosphere Reserve is the Biju Patnaik International Airport, located in Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha. It is approximately 250 kilometers (155 miles) away from the reserve. From the airport, one can travel to Simlipal Biosphere Reserve by road, either by hiring a taxi or taking a bus.

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Nearest Railway Station:

The nearest railway station to Simlipal Biosphere Reserve is Baripada Railway Station. It is situated around 60 kilometers (37 miles) away from the reserve. Baripada Railway Station is well-connected to major cities and towns in Odisha and other parts of the country. From the railway station, one can hire local transportation or take a bus to reach the reserve.

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve History

The history of Simlipal Biosphere Reserve dates back several decades. Here is an overview of its historical significance and development:

Early Settlement and Tribal Inhabitation: The region surrounding Simlipal Biosphere Reserve has a long history of human settlement, with indigenous tribes such as the Santhal, Munda, Ho, and Bhumija residing in the area for centuries. These tribes have traditional knowledge and cultural practices closely linked to the forest and its resources.

Tiger Reserve Designation: Simlipal was formally designated as a tiger reserve in 1956, recognizing its significance as a habitat for the endangered Royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris). This designation aimed to provide enhanced protection and conservation measures for the tiger population in the region.

Inclusion in Project Tiger: In 1973, Simlipal Tiger Reserve was brought under Project Tiger, a conservation initiative launched by the Government of India to protect the country's dwindling tiger populations. Project Tiger focuses on conserving tiger habitats, preventing poaching, and promoting ecological balance. This inclusion further emphasized the importance of Simlipal Biosphere Reserve as a key tiger conservation area in the country.

Wildlife Sanctuary Establishment: In 1979, Simlipal declared a wildlife sanctuary to protect the rich biodiversity of the region. The sanctuary served as a crucial habitat for various wildlife species, including the Royal Bengal tiger and Asian elephant.

Biosphere Reserve Designation: Recognizing the ecological importance of Simlipal and its surrounding areas, the Indian government designated Simlipal as a biosphere reserve in 1994. This designation aimed to integrate conservation efforts with sustainable development and involve local communities in the management of the reserve.

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve UNESCO

UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Designation: In 2009, Simlipal Biosphere Reserve received further international recognition when it was included in UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves. This acknowledgment highlighted the reserve's global significance in terms of ecological conservation, biodiversity protection, and sustainable development practices.

Elephant Reserve: Simlipal Biosphere Reserve form part of the Similipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh Elephant Reserve popularly known as Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve.

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Area

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve covers an extensive area of approximately 5,569 square kilometers (2150 square miles). The reserve encompasses a diverse range of habitats, including dense forests, grasslands, waterfalls, and hills.

Within the larger area of the biosphere reserve, the core zone comprises Simlipal National Park, which spans around 845 square kilometers (326 square miles). The national park serves as the core area for wildlife conservation and is characterized by its rich biodiversity.

The remaining portion of the biosphere reserve consists of buffer zones and transition zones, where sustainable human activities and conservation efforts are balanced. These areas are often inhabited by local communities and allow for sustainable resource utilization while maintaining the ecological integrity of the reserve.

  • Core area(s): 845 sq. km.
  • Buffer zone(s): 2,129 sq. km.
  • Transition zone(s): 2,595 sq. km.
  • Total: 5,569 sq. km.

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve River

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve is home to several rivers and streams that enhance the ecological diversity and beauty of the region. These rivers and water bodies provide crucial habitats for aquatic species and support the overall ecosystem within the reserve. 

Here are some notable rivers in and around Simlipal Biosphere Reserve:

(1) Palpala River:

The Palpala River flows through the Simlipal National Park, offering a lifeline to the diverse flora and fauna in the region. It is one of the prominent rivers within the reserve.

(2) Khairi River:

Khairi River originates from the Khairiburu Hill inside Simlipal National Park. It flows through the forested areas, enriching the surrounding ecosystems with its water.

(3) Budhabalanga River:

Although not directly flowing through Simlipal Biosphere Reserve, the Budhabalanga River passes near the reserve's boundary. It is a significant river in the region and is known for its contribution to agriculture and local livelihoods.

(4) Salandi River:

The Salandi River is located close to the northern boundary of Simlipal Biosphere Reserve. It originates in the hills of Mayurbhanj district and flows through the nearby regions, providing water for irrigation and supporting local communities.

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Waterfalls

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve is known for its picturesque waterfalls that add to the natural beauty and allure of the region. These waterfalls are often formed by the rivers and streams that flow through the reserve, creating stunning cascades amidst the lush greenery. 

Here are some notable waterfalls in and around Simlipal Biosphere Reserve:

(1) Barehipani Waterfall:

Barehipani Waterfall is one of the most famous and majestic waterfalls in Simlipal Biosphere Reserve. It is the second-highest waterfall in India, with a total height of approximately 399 meters (1,309 feet). The waterfall plunges down in two tiers, surrounded by dense forest.

(2) Joranda Waterfall:

Joranda Waterfall is another impressive waterfall located within the reserve. It cascades down from a height of around 152 meters (499 feet) and creates a mesmerizing sight. The surrounding area is adorned with lush vegetation, making it a popular spot for nature enthusiasts.

(3) Sitakund Waterfall:

Situated near the Sitakund viewpoint, this waterfall offers a serene and tranquil atmosphere. It flows down from the hilly terrain, creating a refreshing cascade amidst the verdant surroundings.

(4) Ramatirtha Waterfall:

Ramatirtha Waterfall is located near the Ramatirtha village, close to the core area of Simlipal National Park. It is a smaller waterfall but still offers a scenic view and a serene ambiance.

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Tribe

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve is home to several indigenous tribes that have a rich cultural heritage and a deep connection with the forested landscapes of the region. Here are some of the tribes that inhabit or have historical associations with the reserve:

(1) Erenga Kharia:

The Erenga Kharia tribe is one of the major tribes residing within Simlipal Biosphere Reserve. They have traditionally relied on the forest for their livelihood, engaging in activities such as seed collection and timber extraction. Their cultural practices and knowledge are closely linked to the natural resources and ecosystem of the region.

(2) Mankirdia:

The Mankirdia tribe is another indigenous community found in Simlipal Biosphere Reserve. Like the Erenga Kharias, they have a close association with the forest and engage in traditional agricultural activities.

(3) Ho, Gond, and Munda:

These tribes, among others, also have a presence in the region. They have their unique cultural practices, traditions, and dialects, reflecting the diverse tribal heritage of the area.

The cultural significance of Simlipal Biosphere Reserve is intertwined with local myths and legends that have been passed down through generations. Stories and paintings dating back to ancient epics like the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Puranas are connected to specific sites within the reserve. Sacred groves, bathing places, and other landmarks mentioned in these texts add to the cultural significance and spiritual value of the region.

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Flora

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve boasts a diverse range of flora, thanks to its varied topography and favorable climatic conditions. The reserve is home to rich and extensive forests, which support a wide array of plant species. Here are some of the notable flora found in Simlipal Biosphere Reserve:

(1) Sal (Shorea robusta):

Sal is the dominant tree species in Simlipal Biosphere Reserve. These large deciduous trees with broad leaves provide shade and create a dense forest canopy. Sal trees are economically important for their timber and also support various other species of plants and animals.

(2) Semul (Bombax ceiba):

Semul, also known as the Silk Cotton Tree or Red Silk Cotton, is indeed a significant tree species found in Simlipal Biosphere Reserve. Semul is a large deciduous tree that can reach heights of up to 60 meters (197 feet). The tree is of great cultural and economic importance in the region. The cotton-like fibers surrounding the seeds of Semul are used for making pillows, mattresses, and stuffing for cushions. The timber of the tree is also utilized for construction purposes.

(3) Bamboo:

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve is known for its abundant bamboo forests. Several species of bamboo, such as Dendrocalamus strictus and Bambusa bambos, are found in the reserve. Bamboo plays a vital role in maintaining soil health, preventing erosion, and providing habitat for wildlife.

(4) Semi-evergreen and Moist Deciduous Forests:

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve is characterized by a mix of semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests. These forests are home to a diverse range of tree species, including Mahua (Madhuca longifolia), Asan (Terminalia elliptica), Amoora (Amoora wallichii), and many more.

(5) Medicinal Plants:

The reserve is rich in medicinal plants that have been traditionally used by the indigenous tribes for their medicinal properties. Plants such as Amla (Phyllanthus emblica), Harida (Terminalia chebula), and Neem (Azadirachta indica) are found in abundance and have significant medicinal value.

(6) Orchids:

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve is also known for its diverse orchid species. Various colorful and rare orchids, including the Vanda, Dendrobium, and Bulbophyllum species, can be found in the forested areas.

(7) Grasslands:

Apart from forests, Simlipal Biosphere Reserve has vast grassland areas that support a unique variety of grass species. These grasslands are important grazing grounds for herbivores and provide nesting sites for birds.

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Fauna (Simlipal Biosphere Reserve Animals)

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve is renowned for its diverse and abundant wildlife. The reserve provides a protected habitat for numerous species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Here are some of the notable fauna found in Simlipal Biosphere Reserve:


  • Royal Bengal Tiger
  • Asian Elephant
  • Indian Bison
  • Leopard
  • Sambar Deer
  • Indian Wild Dog
  • Indian Crested Porcupine
  • Sloth Bear
  • Spotted Deer
  • Barking Deer


  • Indian Pitta
  • Malabar Pied Hornbill
  • White-rumped Vulture
  • Crested Serpent Eagle
  • Indian Roller
  • Lesser Adjutant
  • Grey Hornbill
  • Great Pied Hornbill
  • Black-hooded Oriole
  • Red Junglefowl


  • King Cobra
  • Indian Rock Python
  • Mugger Crocodile
  • Indian Chameleon
  • Green Vine Snake
  • Indian Sand Boa
  • Common Indian Monitor
  • Russell's Viper
  • Common Krait
  • Checkered Keelback

Top Things to do in Simlipal Biosphere Reserve

Exploring Simlipal Biosphere Reserve offers a range of exciting activities and experiences for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. Here are some of the top things to do in Simlipal Biosphere Reserve:

  • Wildlife Safari
  • Nature Walks and Hiking
  • Visit Waterfalls
  • Tribal Village Visits
  • Photography and Birdwatching
  • Trekking and Camping
  • Visit Crocodile Rearing Center
  • Nature Photography Workshops

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve UPSC Questions

Q. In which state is Simlipal Biosphere Reserve located/Where is Similipal Biosphere Reserve located?/Simlipal Biosphere Reserve is located in which state?

A. Simlipal Biosphere Reserve is located in the Mayurbhanj district of the state of Odisha, India.

Q. When was Simlipal declared as a biosphere reserve?

A. Simlipal Biosphere Reserve was declared a biosphere reserve in the year 1994. The declaration was made by the Government of India to recognize the ecological significance and biodiversity value of the region. 

Q. Which is the first biosphere reserve in Odisha?

A. Simlipal Biosphere Reserve is the first biosphere reserve in Odisha.

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve

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