The Desert National Park is an excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert.The Desert National Park falls under zone 3 (Indian Desert) and is the only representative of this biogeographic zone within India. DNP has its unique and diverse flora and fauna including many rare and endangered species.
The Thar Desert in north-western India is a unique and the only habitat of its type in the Indian subcontinent. The Aravalli hills mark the eastern-most boundary limit of the Thar desert while the western limit is defined by the fertile plains of the Indus. The Great Rann of Kutch forms a sharp boundary in the south while its northern limits are formed by the riparian sub-Himalayan plains.
Desert National Park:
The Desert National Park (DNP) covers an area of 3162 km² of which 1900 km² is in Jaisalmer district and remaining 1262 km² is in Barmer district of Rajasthan State. The area falls in the extreme hot and arid region of very low rainfall zone (<100mm) of the country. DNP was gazetted in the year 1980.
The DNP is barren with several sand dunes and a few hills in the north-western region. The Park forms a vast sandy and undulating terrain.
Flora and Fauna:
The region is a haven for migratory and resident birds of the desert.The Chinkara or Indian Gazelle (Gazella bennettii) is a common antelope of this region. The national park’s other notable inhabitants are the desert fox, wolf and desert cat.
Perhaps the greatest attraction of the park is a bird called the great Indian bustard, a critically endangered species found only in India. Desert National Park is one of the last sites in which this species can be found in good numbers
The vegetation of major part of the arid region of the Thar falls under thorn forest type (Champion and Seth 1968). Khejri Prosopis cineraria is commonly found, which is revered and protected by the local communities specially the ‘Bishnois‘. The vegetation of DNP is quite sparse with open grassland, throny bushes, plantation and dunes as the broad habitat types.
Importance of North-Western Desert:
- The Thar desert though one of the smallest deserts in the world it harbours a wide array of flora and faunal species.
- It is only place where Rajasthan State Bird (Great Indian Bustard), State animal (Chinkara) and State tree (Khejri) and State flower (Rohida) are found naturally.
- Thar desert has representatives of Palaearctic, Oriental and Saharan elements and is an outstanding example of geological history representing the different stages of evolution.
- It also has fossil evidences dating back to the Jurassic Period (180 mya) indicating hot and humid climate characterized by dense forests. The fossilized remains of these 180 million-year-old forests are preserved in Wood Fossil Park at Akal, located 17 km from Jaisalmer, in the outskirts and under the jurisdiction of the Desert National Park.