Velavadar National Park in 2024 : What is there except Blackbucks !?

Velavadar National Park

Welcome to Velavadar National Park, an enchanting sanctuary where the graceful Blackbucks roam freely amidst stunning natural landscapes. Our mission is to provide you with an in-depth exploration of this hidden gem, helping you discover why Velavadar should be at the top of your travel bucket list. Nestled in the heart of Gujarat, India, this national park offers an unparalleled experience for wildlife enthusiasts, nature lovers, and adventure seekers alike.The Unique Vegetation and Wildlife of Velavadar National Park

Unlocking the Wonders of Antelope National Park: Beyond the Herds

 

Thousands of people visit the Antelope National Park in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district every year, many of them with the sole purpose of seeing antelope. After achieving this purpose, they consider their visit worthwhile. If you ask the truth, Antelope National Park is a living museum of nature, in which there is no limit to the diversity of life apart from the antelope. The flora here is very rich. Moreover, the topography of this area is also worth understanding from an environmental point of view. Each aspect is introduced here so that when you visit Antelope National Park, it becomes more meaningful after knowing about it. Ultimately, the aim of this article is to turn the traditional journey into a knowledge journey.

The Untamed Wilderness

Antelope species living in India also have their own separate habitat. Apart from Gujarat, there are black antelope populations in protected sanctuaries in Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. Dense forests do not suit them. A landscape with scattered shrubs and grasslands is suitable for them. Of course, there must be enough water in that region.Velavadar National Park: What is there to watch apart from Blackbucks ?

Velavadar National Park spans over 34.08 square kilometers, making it a compact yet vibrant treasure trove of biodiversity. Its diverse ecosystems, ranging from grasslands to wetlands, create an ideal habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna. The park is renowned for its population of blackbucks, a remarkable species of antelope known for their striking appearance.

 

The Transformation of Bhavnagar’s Royal Hunting Ground into Blackbuck National ParkVelavadar National Park: What is there to watch apart from Blackbucks ?

This tiny national park was the pre-independence hunting ground of the Kings of Bhavnagar. In the grasslands, they used to go hunting with their domesticated leopards and hunt animals like antelopes. At that time, however, the antelope population was also high, which declined over time. After the merger of princely states during independence, this grassland came under the government of India and was declared a sanctuary in 1969. Three years later, in 1972, the law for the protection of wild life was passed, and in 1976, only 18 square kilometers of this grassland were declared a national park. Four years later, another area of 16 square kilometers was added to it.

Ecological Diversity and Avian Haven: Blackbuck National Park’s Unique LandscapeVelavadar National Park: What is there to watch apart from Blackbucks ?

Years later, after the construction of a paved road from Adhelai to Velavadar, the park is divided into two parts: north and south. Although the Gulf of Khambhat is very far away, low-lying land causes tidal waters to enter the southern part of the sanctuary. So much of the area is salty and rocky, and since such a surface is suitable for many types of birds, during the winter, migratory birds visit Blackbuck National Park to stay.

Blackbucks: The Stars of Velavadar

Velavadar National Park: What is there to watch apart from Blackbucks ?

Blackbucks (Antilope cervicapra) are the true celebrities of Velavadar National Park. These elegant creatures, with their ebony and white fur, grace the landscape with their presence. 

These graceful antelopes are known for their incredible speed and agility, making them a mesmerizing sight when they engage in their characteristic high jumps, known as “stotting.” Witnessing a blackbuck in motion is like witnessing poetry in the wild, an experience that will leave you breathless.

The Distinguishing Features of the Blackbucks

Velavadar National Park: What is there to watch apart from Blackbucks ?

 

Black face, white nose, white patches around eyes, neck to tail outside of all four legs, and the side of the body is black, and the inner part of the belly-feet is white. 65 centimeter-long spiny horns on the head of an adult male antelope look very impressive. Male blackbucks are distinguished by their spiral horns and jet-black coat, while females exhibit a more subdued beige and white coloration.An average antelope has a shoulder height of 88 centimeters, a length of 120 centimeters, and a weight of 45 kilograms. The female’s height is a few centimeters less, and her weight is 39 kg. Nature has given the female a brown ‘cloak’ instead of black. Also, it does not have horns on its head.

Seasonal Transformation: The Changing Colors of Male BlackbucksVelavadar National Park: What is there to watch apart from Blackbucks ?

The natural pattern of black-and-white colors gives the male antelope a striking appearance. A male antelope has brown fur on its body until it reaches adulthood, which gradually darkens to black. Surprisingly, male antelopes do not stay black all year. After the end of the rainy season, the color fades. Hence, the thick black color becomes dark brown. As summer ends, the color changes again. Which fur turns black? However, this rule of changing clothes does not apply to South Indian blackbucks. They never turn completely black.

Blackbucks in Ancient Texts and the Race Against PredatorsVelavadar National Park: What is there to watch apart from Blackbucks ?

Since blackbucks have been living there since ancient times, they are mentioned in Sanskrit texts with names like Krishnamrig, Sarang, and Krishnasara. It is said that Lord Krishna’s chariot was pulled by antelopes; cheetahs also lived on the Indian subcontinent in the past. (The existence of the leopard was eradicated from India in 1936.) When the predator is very fast, nature does not miss a chance to give a loophole to the prey. The black antelope has the genes to run at a maximum speed of 80 kmph to escape from the predatory cheetah rushing at a speed of 80–90 kmph.

The Spectacular Leaping of Blackbucks : A Gravity-Defying DisplayVelavadar National Park: What is there to watch apart from Blackbucks ?

Another highlight of this agile animal is its leaping leap. The long and high leaps in the air are spectacular. A sprinting antelope extends all four legs forward as soon as it takes off, then curls them inward. The legs come out like the handing gear of an airplane on landing, and as soon as it lands on the ground, the antelope takes off with a powerful thump. Words cannot describe the joy of watching a whole group of antelopes cross the road in this way in the park.

The Unique Gait of Blackbucks: A Fascinating StrideVelavadar National Park: What is there to watch apart from Blackbucks ?

The gait of the antelope is also special. Normally, a cloven-hoofed animal moves forward with its legs raised in a diagonal joint. That is, the right rear leg moves forward along with the left front leg, and then immediately the left rear leg moves forward with the right front leg. But the move of the antelope is not that kind. This animal walks with two right legs together and then two left legs together. This aspect of the antelope is worth watching carefully.

Velavadar’s Ecological Diversity

Blackbuck National Park near Velavadar village has a variety of other organisms due to the diversity of topography. This region contains dense and light grasslands, acacia (Prosopis juliflora) thickets, salt flats, and tidal swamps.  There is so much geographical diversity in an area of ​​just 34 square kilometers for the common tourist. Nature has reserved this pristine area for local birds and migratory birds that visit it.

While the blackbuck population is a highlight, Velavadar National Park is home to a plethora of other fascinating creatures.

The park boasts a diverse range of fauna, including:

Indian Wolf: An apex predator that roams the grasslands
Striped Hyena: A rare and elusive scavenger
Indian Fox: A small, agile canid often seen hunting for rodents.
Jackal: The opportunistic omnivore of the park
Nilgai: the largest Asian antelope, known for its striking blue-gray coloration.
Birdlife: Velavadar is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with over 200 species of birds, including harriers, eagles, and the critically endangered Lesser Florican.

The Unique Vegetation and Wildlife of Velavadar National Park

Velavadar National Park is not just about its remarkable wildlife; it also boasts a rich tapestry of flora that adds to its scenic beauty. The park’s landscapes are adorned with lush grasslands, seasonal wetlands, and dry deciduous forests. Some of the prominent plant species include:

Indian Wild Balsam: is known for its vibrant pink flowers.

Prosopis Juliflora: A hardy tree species that dots the landscape
Acacia and Euphorbia: Providing shelter and sustenance for the park’s diverse wildlife.

Exploring Velavadar

The area is rugged and plain, yet there is a great diversity of vegetation. Like native and wild acacia, tamarind, karanj, jambu (blackberries), banyan, etc. The salinary vegetation called Mishwak, Pilwan, or Pilu (Salvadora persica) is particularly noteworthy here. It’s dark in color and sweet. It is an accessible food for many birds. Pilu is used in the UAE and African countries as a Uunani medicine for dental and oral health. Companies like Dabur also make toothpaste from pilu. Pilu leaf juice is said to be beneficial for prostate patients, and its fruit is beneficial for pile patients.

In this sanctuary, the mad acacia is slowly spreading its empire, depriving other plants of space to thrive. An example of imperialism in the plant world is the crazy acacia spreading its companions. Venomous snakes like rattlesnakes and king cobras are found in the thickets. Some non-venomous snakes are native here.

As you venture into Velavadar National Park, be prepared for a sensory journey like no other. Here are some activities and experiences that await you:

Jeep SafarisVelavadar National Park: What is there to watch apart from Blackbucks ?

Embark on a thrilling jeep safari through the park’s grasslands. This is your best chance to spot the elusive blackbucks, Indian wolves, and other wildlife in their natural habitat. Our knowledgeable guides will ensure you don’t miss a thing.

The experience can be enjoyed. Jungle safari on unpaved roads The ruts left on the ground by vehicular traffic are clearly visible.
So even if you drive your vehicle on these dirt roads, there is no chance of getting lost. If you don’t have your own vehicle, there is an option to hire a jeep from the BlackBuck Lodge here. Along with Jeeps, they also serve binoculars and are knowledgeable about the region.Velavadar National Park: What is there to watch apart from Blackbucks ?

 

Herds of antelopes are often seen crossing the vehicle’s path during safari. This shy animal tries to get away from humans as soon as possible, and to do so, it jumps up a long hill in a single leap. It is fun to keep the car parked and watch the mob members do this. A gathering of birds is seen near a water body; sometimes a wolf or jackal is seen; and sometimes one feels like moving in an African forest by looking at the surrounding landscape. Flocks of soaring birds add to the joy. If you are not familiar with the various animals and birds, the accompanying guide introduces them and provides interesting information about the creatures. If the guide goes on narrating and we enjoy the views through the binoculars, the safari becomes worthwhile.Velavadar National Park: What is there to watch apart from Blackbucks ?

One of the advantages of going on safari in a private vehicle is the freedom to roam from sunrise to sunset. Note that the park closes from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM, when the hired jeep safari is limited to two hours. Guides with good and reliable wildlife information are easily available here. They have to pay Rs. 400 for four hours. Rs. 20 per person for park entry For small vehicles, Rs. 400/- and Rs. 500/- for Saturday and Sunday

Rs. 1000/- for vehicles with more than six seats, Rs. 1250/- for Saturdays and Sundays, Rs. 200/- for cameras, and Rs. 3500/- for minibuses or buses with 60 seats. Disembarking during the safari is mandatory. However, make sure about it.

Bird Watching

For avid birdwatchers, Velavadar is a haven. The wetlands attract numerous bird species, including the majestic white-eyed buzzard and the crested hawk-eagle. Binoculars and a keen eye are all you need to enjoy the avian wonders of the park.

Velavadar National Park: What is there to watch apart from Blackbucks ?
Secretarybird

 

The south-eastern part of the park is the best place to enjoy the huge birdlife. Many species of birds of the Lark class, such as Secretarybird, Jacobin cuckoo, Ghaghas, Skylark, Pulak or Common Shyamshir, Bhonchakali, Malabari Chandool are found here. Khadia, Dhulia, Francolin, Desert pelican (stonechat), Pelican, Crane, Eurasian Hobby, Kestrel, Red-necked falcon, Eurasian Imperial Jummus (or Zhumus), Desi Jummus, Short-toed snake eagle, Khadmor (Lesser Florican), Ujali Dhonk (stork). Many tourists come here every year to see native exotic birds. A rare vulture can also be seen here. Harrier birds from the Siberian province of Russia also congregate here in large numbers. Exotic birds feed on crabs, seaweeds, and aquatic plants found in the wetlands here. In winter, we see so many migratory birds traveling thousands of kilometers to reach here. With more than 120 species of birds, most of them can be seen in and around Antelope National Park.

Photography

Photographers will find Velavadar a paradise of picturesque landscapes and charismatic wildlife. The interplay of light and shadow on the grasslands creates breathtaking opportunities for capturing the essence of this unique ecosystem.

Star Gazing

With its minimal light pollution, Velavadar National Park offers a celestial spectacle after sunset. Gaze at the stars and constellations—a truly humbling experience in the midst of nature’s tranquility.

The Gray Wolf: A Guardian of Crops in Blackbuck ParkVelavadar National Park: What is there to watch apart from Blackbucks ?

Blackbuck Park is the park with the least area in India. Cattle living in confined areas often cross their ‘boundary’ into the surrounding farmland. In addition to blackbucks, buffaloes damage field crops. Blackbuck is revered as a divine animal in India. The Bishnoi community in Rajasthan holds a lot of respect for the blackbucks. Hence, there is no question of hunting that animal. As a result, the farmers have to keep vigils to drive away the blackbucks and Nilgai coming into the fields.

 

However, if the gray wolf of Velavadar Park is seen walking in the fields, farmers are relieved. Here, the gray wolf is considered auspicious, as its presence keeps away Blackbucks and Nilgai. If a wolf is seen roaming around the field, the farmer does not have to put in efforts to protect the crops. In the cold war between humans and Blackbucks, the wolf plays the role of a barbed wire fence between the two.

Velavadar National Park: What is there to watch apart from Blackbucks ?
A Grey Wolf 

Gray Wolfs are more likely to hunt in the late evening and become incognito by dawn. But they are often seen eating in, even during the day. After feasting on a prey such as a buffalo or an antelope, the carcass left behind by the wolf is eaten by Hyenas, including bones. Hyena is a very important link in the food chain created by nature. Apart from the deer, there are jackals, lynxes, wild cats, sheep, wild boars, rabbits, and mongoose.

A massive decline in the Blackbuck population has been reported over the past decade. As the area of Velavadar is low-lying, the Parvalliyo and Alang rivers flood here during the rainy season. Then the life of the blackbuck in the park is put in danger. In the year 2007, 195 people drowned, and in 1982, 311 blackbucks drowned in the flood. The department has constructed earthen embankments here to prevent flood water, but some experts believe that they are not enough to support the number of wildlife.

Blackbuck National Park is not only the home of the antelope, but several species and plant life thrive in its natural habitat. Recognize them, and then the journey becomes a journey of knowledge.

Quick Info about Velavadar National Park

Category Information
Location Velavadar National Park, Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India
Google Location Velavadar National Park on Google Maps
Highlights Blackbuck Sanctuary with grasslands, home to various wildlife species including wolves and hyenas
Best Time to Visit Plan your visit between October and March for optimal wildlife sightings
Activities Wildlife safari, bird watching, and nature photography
Accommodation Options available in Bhavnagar city
Transportation Nearest airport: Bhavnagar Airport
Nearest railway station: Bhavnagar Terminus
Language Gujarati, Hindi, and English are commonly spoken
Currency Indian Rupee (INR)
Safety Tips Follow guidelines during safari, maintain a safe distance from wildlife, and stay within designated areas
Local Etiquette Respect the natural habitat, avoid disturbing wildlife, and adhere to the park rules
Emergency Numbers Police: 100, Medical Emergency: 108

Good to know before you plan your trip:

To make the most of your trip to Velavadar National Park, keep the following tips in mind:

Best Time to Visit:

The park is open from October to June, with the post-monsoon period (October to February) being the most favorable for wildlife sightings.

Accommodations:

Nearby Bhavnagar offers a range of accommodation options to suit every budget. Inside the park is a jungle lodge called ‘Kaliyaar Bhawan’, which has simple air-conditioned rooms and dormitories. Register here 15 days in advance. For payment online or through a demand draft, Kaliyaar Bhavan can be contacted at 0278-2426425. If the pocket can afford it, there is also a private hotel called ‘Black Buck Lodge’, five hundred meters outside the park. There are many options for staying in Bhavnagar.

Permits:

Entry permits are required and can be obtained at the park entrance.

Best time to visit: It is more fun to visit here in winter as the variety of bird life can be enjoyed due to the presence of migratory birds. December–January is the ideal time. The park is closed from June 15th to October 15th during the monsoon.

Location:

Blackbuck National Park is 47 km from Bhavnagar. Bhavnagar is connected to many cities by road and rail. State transport bus service from Bhavnagar to Velavadar is also available.

Plus Know:

Bring a good pair of binoculars on a visit for Bird watching.

Conclusion

Velavadar National Park is a testament to the extraordinary biodiversity that India has to offer. Its unique combination of grasslands, wetlands, and wildlife makes it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. Come and witness the enchanting world of blackbucks and explore the untamed wilderness of  Velavadar – an experience that will stay with you forever. There is a treasure trove of wildlife hidden in every nook and cranny, to discover which one should look around during the safari and enjoy it slowly rather than rushing through the safari.


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