The Jhalana Wildlife Sanctuary is located right on the periphery of Jaipur. The forest is spread over an area of 24 square km and is located eastwards of Jaipur. Until 1860, the forest was basically managed for sports of royal families and also to meet the fuel, fodder and small timber needs of neighbourhood villages. It is in recent years that the conservation of the forest begins to take place and safaris here have now become popular.
The small size doesn’t take away from Jhalana’s charm, as it is blessed with a diverse topography, with the rocky Aravallis bordering it on one side and a forest of evergreen and deciduous trees stretching through its boundary. The reserve has safaris in two shifts and 10 jeeps are allowed in each shift i.e. morning and evening.
Jhalana is gaining popularity for its leopard sightings in their natural habitat. Leopards are not endangered like Tigers, but are usually much rarer to spot because they are stealthier and shy, however in Jhalana, with an estimate of over 25 leopards, the cats are spotted regularly on safaris. Apart from Leopard, there are other wildlife attractions such as Striped Hyena, Desert Fox, Golden Jackal, Blue Bull, Asian Palm Civet to name a few. This is also a must visit location for birdwatchers, Indian Pitta, Dusky Eagle Owl, Indian Paradise Flycatcher are some of the species sighted here.
Approximtely 135kms from Jhalana is another place known as Sonkhaliya, about 40 km from Ajmer district, Rajasthan. These fields are famous for the sightings of the highly endangered Lesser Florican” (Sypheotides indicus), or Likh. These birds migrate for breeding in the Sonkhaliya village . The villagers have agreed to conserve 30 hectares of land for the breeding activity of these endangered birds. The farmers were advised by the Agriculture Department to shift to Mung cultivation from Gram. And it was after this shift in agriculture that the forest officials in the region started reporting the increase in nos. of Lesser Florican. Over the years, the no. of Lesser Floricans have increased to substantial numbers, thanks to both the efforts of farmers and forest officials.
It’s a bird that is high on wish list of many birders and photographers not just from India, but also around the World. This species is a typical grassland bird about a size of little bigger than a village hen. The Lesser Floricanis a shy bird and is rarely encountered outside their breeding season and region. During monsoon when it breeds in grasslands, the male Lesser Florican exhibits a unique and spectacular courtship display, risking its life. It jumps up about 1.5-2 meters in air, with folded legs, flapping its wings, with a peculiar croaking or knocking call. This is part of the ritual that male Floricans adopt to lure the females and to ward off other males from their territory.
They now remain in just few pockets of India and are considered to be at high risk of extinction. The species is said to move in response to rainfall and their presence at locations can be erratic, with sudden large numbers in some seasons. Breeding areas are today restricted mainly to Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, some areas in southern Nepal and parts of Andhra Pradesh.
Wildlife scenes :
Mammals–Leopard,Golden Jackal, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Gray Langur, Striped Hyena, Desert Fox, Chital, Indian Palm Civets, Blue Bulls (Nilgai), Jungle Cat.
Birds–Spotted Owlet, Bay Backed Shrike, Dunlin, Flamingos, White Throated Kingfisher, Sandpiper, Red Collared Dove, Dusky Eagle, Indian Pitta, Indian Roller, ShikraHawk,
Apart from the above flagship species(Lesser Florican,) Sonkhaliya is a great place to see a number of other grassland and scrub land species like Grey Francolin, Rain Quail, Rock Bush Quail, Indian Peafowl, Comb Duck, Lesser Whistling-duck, Spot-billed Duck, Common Hoopoe, Green Bee-eater, European Roller, Indian Roller, White-throated Kingfisher, Pied Cuckoo, Asian Koel, Greater Coucal, Alexandrine Parakeet, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Indian Eagle Owl, Rock Pigeon, Laughing Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, White-breasted Waterhen, Common Coot, Black Kite, White-eyed Buzzard, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Red-wattledLapwing, Greater Painted-snipe, Eurasian Thick-knee, Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank,, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Grebe, Little Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Black Ibis, Common Babbler, Large Grey Babbler, Jungle Babbler, White-eared Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, Wire-tailed Swallow, Booted Warbler, Indian Silverbill, Indian Bushlark, Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark, Rufous-tailed Lark, Ashy Prinia, Plain Prinia, BayaWeaver, House Sparrow, Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, Black Drongo, Rufous Treepie, House Crow, Southern Grey Shrike, BrahminyStarling, Asian Pied Starling, Bank Myna, Siberian Stonechat, Pied Bushchat, Isabelline Wheatear, Brown Rock-chat