KERALA WILDLIFE SANCTUARIES
The forests, hills and mountains of Kerala are important conservation areas in the world context. The diverse population of animals, birds, butterflies, insects and plant life includes some endangered species in great need of protection. The government of Kerala and the Rangers who control the wildlife sanctuaries are working hard to give each species the greatest chance of survival.
Aralam is the most northerly of Kerala’s sanctuaries, forested with tropical evergreen trees including eucalyptus and teak plantations. The best time to visit is June to October when herds of elephant and bison can be seen, also leopard, wild boar, bear, various deer and giant squirrel. The highest peak, Katti Betta rises to 1145m above sea level.
Lying in Thrissur district, the forest is mixed evergreen and deciduous trees with abundant rain forest flora. It is possible to see elephant, Indian bison, leopard, tiger, wild boar and many other smaller mammals and birds. One of it,s borders is next to Parambikilam sanctuary.
Chinnar wildlife sanctuary covers 90sq km in the Idukki region, the forest ia deciduous with thorny scrub. It is and important habitat for the endangered giant grizzled squirrel, and you can spot elephant, spotted deer, sambhar, Hanuman monkeys and peacock. There is a viewing tower to watch animals, the best time for sightings is early morning.
Eravikulam National Park
Situated in the Western Ghats, near to Munnar, the park consists mostly of rolling uplands from 2000m to 2695m at the peak of Anamudi, the highest in India south of the Himalayas. The largest surviving group of Nigiri Tahr, an endangered mountain goat is found here and it is home to the rare neelakurinji flower which blooms once every 12 years, when that year comes, the hills are covered with a beautiful purple blanket. Elephant make seasonal visits and many different animals have been seen here. Birds of all kinds including birds of prey are a common sight.
As part of visitor management and conservation, the park management operate a fleet of mini buses at INR 35 for Indian nationals and INR 200 for foreign nationals. This arrangement is vital to keep pollution to the minimum.
Gavi is a beautiful forest, which could be called ‘forest heaven’ , situated as a part of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, with stunning grasslands, wild animals, variety of bird species, different kinds of trees, stream and cascading waterfalls. This evergreen forest offers a deep experience of plentiful nature as well as wildlife preserves with tiger, leopards, elephants, bears, mouse-deers, Indian Gaur, Nilgiri martens, sambar,, lion-tailed macaque and a lot more. Nature lovers like birders can explore Gavi forests which are home to over 320 species of birds- the great Indian hornbills, bulbuls, cockoos, sunbirds, mynas, woodpeckers and dongos.
This is a nature rich reserve in central Kerala, the mixed evergreen and deciduous forest gives shelter to elephant, sambhar, leopard, tiger, bison, wild boar and more. Bird life is plentiful, Malabar grey hornbill, woodpeckers, bulbul, and flycatchers and many more. The lake is scenic and ideal for the boat rides that are available.
The sanctuary is about 32km from Trivandrum and over 100 species of animals, butterflies and insects have been recorded. Elephant, leopard, tiger and the Travancore tortoise are there plus a crocodile breeding centre and a lion safari park. The lake, formed by a dam across the Neyyar river is popular picnic and boating spot.
Parambikulam is a 285sq km wildlife sanctuary in the Palakkad district of Kerala which was designated a tiger reserve in 2010, and is now under consideration by UNESCO to become a world heritage site.
Animals that may be seen are elephant, leopard, tiger, langur monkey, nilgiri tahr, wild boar, sloth bear, bonnet macaques and gaur. Birds include grey-headed fish eagle Peninsular bay owl, great pied hornbill, little cormorant, black eagle, black-capped kingfisher and great Indian hornbill.
There are three man made reservoirs within the sanctuary, the Thuvaiar waterfall empties into one of them. The trees are mainly sandal wood, neem and rosewood and teak, the oldest teak ever recorded is here, it is around 450 yrs old, has a girth of 6.8mts and a height of 49.5mts. There is accommodation in the sanctuary consisting of tented areas and tree houses.
Peppara wildlife sanctuary, 50kms from Trivandrum, features a dam, thick forests, clear streams and some rocky terrain ideal for adventure trekking. There is some wildlife including elephant, leopard, sambhar and lion tailed macaque. Birds include endemic species such as Malabar grey hornbill, whitebellied treepie, small sunbird etc.
Periyar wildlife reserve is spread over 675 sq km of the Western Ghats at Thekkady, with a beautiful manmade lake at it,s centre and forests sloping up on every side. This picturesque scenery provides ideal habitat for a large number of animals, birds and plant life. Whether on a forest trek or a lake cruise it is possible to see wild elephant, gaur, sambar, giant squirrel or langur. Among the birds to be seen are hornbill, woodpecker, kingfisher, and cormorant to name only a few.
Thekkady is a good town to wander in or for shopping with it,s wonderful spice shops, variety of restaurants and souvenir shops. The surrounding area has some famous tea plantations with the appearance of a giant emerald blanket thrown over the hills.
This reserve on the Wayanad plateau is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere which exists to conserve the rich natural history of this part of Kerala. The sanctuary is an ideal habitat for elephant, leopard, wild dog, Indian bison, several species of monkey and deer, and there is always the possibility that a tiger can be spotted. Peacock, jungle fowl, woodpecker, kingfisher, and cormorant are just a few of the birds that make Wayanad their home