Keoladeo Ghana National Park, more popularly known as Bharatpur Bird Santuary, is named after the temple located within its boundaries. Although covering a mere 29 sq km, it is famous for its exotic bird species, close to 400. Besides, during winters it is visited by migratory birds such as the Siberian crane. Although the park has a good deer and antelope population, there are few other animals. However, forest officials claim to have spotted a wandering tiger in the more dense parts of; the forest a few years ago. Bharatpur is an ideal getaway. Foreign tourists visiting the Taj Mahal at Agra, two hour’s drive away, also drop in at Bharatpur. The relatively small size makes it an easy park to cover.At present this park supports a population of more than 375 species of birds and acts as a reserve of numerous mammals as well as reptiles
The Keoladeo National Park is one of India's best water bird sanctuaries. The fresh water marsh of Bharatpur attracts thousands of birds both residents and migratory. There are over 353 species, belonging to 56 families. Some of these are from countries as far as China, Turkistan, Afghanistan etc.
This former Duck-hunting reserve of the Maharajas is today a paradise of feathered life which provides unlimited opportunities to bird watchers. wildlife photographers, painters, researchers and writers on nature
The Keoladeo Ghana National Park in Rajasthan is only a small area of 28.73 sq. km, but its wealth of bird species has brought it prominence as a World Heritage Site, one of only five natural history sites in India to receive this honour. The park, better known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, is renowned the world over for its avifauna, although a great assortment of mammals can be sighted here as well.
Strict protection and excellent management have made Keoladeo a haven for birds. Like several protected areas in India today, it was once the hunting preserve of the local royal family and is probably the only instance of a suitable habitat being 'created' by a maharaja. In the late 19th century, the arid scrublands were dramatically altered. What used to be a seasonal, rain-filled depression became a wetland ecosystem, the water supply augmented by diverting a nearby irrigation canal and by conserving the existing water sources. Of course, the maharaja's intention was to create the finest waterfowl hunting preserve in north India. A plaque near the Keoladeo Temple within the park records the daily tally over the years. The highest figure is of 4,273 birds in November 1938, bagged by the then viceroy, Lord Linlithgow's party.
The renowned ornithologist Salim Ali's efforts created an awareness of the importance of this area. In 1956, it was declared a sanctuary, although 'VIP shoots' continued until 1964 and Maharaja Brijendra Singh retained hunting rights until 1972. Upgraded to a national park, this region has over 350 species of birds and about 125 breed in the park. During the breeding season between mid-July and early October, the crowded nesting colonies of cormorants, herons, egrets and storks are a scene of endless activity as adult birds fly all day long in an effort to satisfy the insatiable appetites of their noisy young. Peak tourist season begins in October; the heronries can still be teeming with fledglings.
In winter this park is a haven for waterfowl and raptors. Over 30 species of the latter, including buzzards, eagles, hawks, falcons and harriers, congregate here. Small Populations of the endangered Siberian Crane can also be seen in this season, although the numbers have been steadily declining.