Home » Pench Tiger Reserve Emerges as India’s First Dark Sky Park, Unveiling Celestial Marvels

Pench Tiger Reserve Emerges as India’s First Dark Sky Park, Unveiling Celestial Marvels

by In-house Editor

In a groundbreaking development, Pench Tiger Reserve has been designated as India’s inaugural Dark Sky Park (DSP), joining the ranks of only five such parks in all of Asia. The Dark Sky Park distinction signifies a commitment to combating light pollution and fostering an environment conducive to stargazing, offering visitors a rare opportunity to witness the celestial wonders unfold against the canvas of a pristine night sky.

Deputy Director of Pench National Park, Prabhu Nath Shukla, expressed his enthusiasm about this newfound recognition, highlighting the reserve’s potential to inspire stargazers and deepen their understanding of the universe. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has acknowledged the intrinsic value of a natural night sky as a cultural, historical, and ecological resource. Recognizing the escalating threat of light pollution globally, the IUCN’s Dark and Quiet Skies for Science and Society Working Group, led by the International Astronomical Union, proposed the concept of ‘Dark Sky Oases’ to safeguard the right to view a star-filled sky.

The DSP certification for Pench Tiger Reserve places a strong emphasis on implementing lighting policies, promoting dark sky-friendly retrofits, conducting outreach and education programs, and monitoring the night sky. This recognition not only bestows national acclaim upon Pench but also propels it onto the international stage as a sanctuary for unspoiled celestial views.

To complement this distinction, Pench has inaugurated a night observatory with funds from the district planning development committee. The reserve has also installed a telescope on a protection tower at Wagholi, just 3 km off the buffer in Sillari, which already houses an observatory. More than 100 street and community lights in the park’s Paoni buffer area have been replaced to mitigate light pollution, demonstrating Pench’s commitment to preserving the sanctity of the night sky.

The DSP certification opens up new educational opportunities, providing a platform for celestial observation and fostering a deeper connection between nature and enthusiasts nationwide. Pench Tiger Reserve has partnered with the neighboring eco-development committee (EDC) to ensure the availability of accommodation facilities and hospitality services, acknowledging that celestial activities are typically scheduled for nighttime.

Looking ahead, Pench aspires to make arrangements for visitors to stay overnight, offering a unique and extraordinary experience for stargazers and nature lovers to immerse themselves in the jungle’s nocturnal wonders. This significant milestone not only positions Pench as a beacon for conservation but also underscores the importance of preserving natural darkness for the well-being of both ecosystems and communities.

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