An erstwhile hunting ground of the royalty, Simlipal National Park is amongst the earliest parks to be taken under the ‘Project Tiger’ of India. The park has been acknowledged many times for different reasons. In 1956, it was officially selected as a Tiger Reserve. Then, it came under Project Tiger in May 1973. Again in 1979, Simlipal got the title of wildlife sanctuary by the Government of Orissa. It was made a National Park in 1980. With the extension of its area to 845.70 sq km, the Government of India declared Simlipal Wildlife Sanctuary as a Biosphere Reserve in 1994.
The park is known for its Tigers, Leopards and Elephants, Hill Mynah and Orchids. It is a complete ecosystem, owing to the forest vegetation, wildlife and bordering ‘Santhal’ tribal settlements. In the company of rivers, waterfalls, fauna, high plateaus and hills, Simlipal Tiger Reserve comes across as a lavish treat for the nature-lovers. Near about 12 rivers flow through its expanse, of which Burhabalanga, Palpala Bandan, Kahairi and Deo are the major ones. Waterfalls like Joranda and Barehipani are the other major attractions amongst the tourists.
When it comes to flora, Simlipal Biosphere Reserve boasts of 1076 species of plants, belonging to 102 families. Besides this, 92 species of orchids have been found here. Mixed type of vegetation can be observed at Simlipal National Park, with tropical semi-evergreen trees, tropical moist deciduous trees, dry deciduous hill forest and high altitude Sal forests. There are numerous medicinal and aromatic plants too. Regarding fauna, Simlipal has about 42 species of mammals, 242 species of birds and 30 species of reptiles.
Tiger, Leopard, Elephant, Sambar, Barking Deer, Bison, Jungle Cat, Wild Boar, Four Horned Antelope and Giant Squirrel are the major mammals found here. The major birds include Red Jungle Fowl, Hill Mynah, Peafowl, Alexandrine Parakeet, Crested Serpent Eagle, Grey Hornbill, Indian Pied Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill and Indian Trogon. The population of snakes and turtles is common amongst reptiles. One can experience this mystifying reserve by means of Jeep Safari. In precise terms, Simlipal National Park is just the place to observe nature at its best.