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Wildlife

PERIYAR NATIONAL PARK

Spread across an entire area of 925 sq.km, the Periyar forests of Thekkady is one of the finest wildlife reserves in India. 305 sq.km of the core zone was declared as the Periyar National Park (PNP) in 1982. Notable as an elephant and tiger reserve, PNP is a nature’s bounty bustling with burgeoning biodiversity and majestic landscapes. Highly protected and efficiently managed, it is a repository of rare, endemic and endangered flora and fauna, also acting as the major watershed to Periyar and Pamba, two important rivers of Kerala. People oriented and park centred community-based ecotourism is the hallmark of Periyar Tiger Reserve. By employing local people for guiding tourists as well as for the surveillance of the vulnerable parts of the reserve, a new avenue for employment and livelihood has been opened up.

Flora: 965 flowering plants including 171 grass species and 143 species of orchids. Podocarpus Wallichianus, the only South Indian conifer grows in this reserve.

Fauna: Including the endangered Lion-tailed macaque which is found in the interior evergreen forests and the Nilgiri Tahr found on the higher altitude areas, there are over 60 species of mammals dwelling in different parts of the reserve. The long list includes Asian Elephant, Bengal Tiger, Indian Bison, Sambar Deer, Indian Wild Dog, Leopard, Barking Deer, Smooth-Coated Otter, Nilgiri Langur, Bornet Macaques, and lots more. Birds: 265 species of birds such as the Malabar Grey Hornbill, The Indian Pied Hornbill, White-bellied Treepie, many species of Drongos, Woodpeckers, Flycatchers, Babbler, Malabar Trogon, etc. Additionally, there are a variety of species of reptiles, amphibians and fishes.

ERAVIKULAM NATIONAL PARK

Kerala’s first national park, the Eravikulam National Park located in Munnar is unique in many aspects. This 97 sq.km heritage site, with its enchanting mountainscapes, grasslands, sholas, plateaus and perennial streams is famous for its vast collection of the Nilgiri Tahr, the endangered hill goat species and of course, the majestic visual spectacle of the Nilakurunji mass florescence. The park is divided into three regions; core area, buffer area and tourism area. Rajamalai mountain slopes, the tourism area, is the perfect spot for sighting Nilgiri Tahr from close quarters as well Nilakurunji. Lakkom waterfalls and Anamudi hills are also excellent tourist spots inside the park.

Flora: Many species of orchids and balsams, the almost extinct Brachycorythis wightiis , the extravagant Neelakurunji which blooms within a gap of 12 years, Cyanotis and many other flowering and non-flowering plant species.

Fauna: Apart from the 750 odd endangered Nilgiri tahrs protected here, at least 26 species of mammals reside in the park. It includes Sambar deer, Jungle cat, Wild dog, Leopard, Tiger, Golden jackal, Nilgiri langur, Indian porcupine, Nilgiri marten, Ruddy mongoose, Dusky palm squirrel, Small clawed otter and even Elephants (during certain seasons). Additionally, the park also has a population of more than 132 bird species, over 102 butterfly species and19 species of amphibians.

CHINNAR WILDLIFE SANCTUARY

A spectacular wildlife reserve situated in the rain shadow region of the Western Ghats on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, Chinnnar Wildlife Sanctuary is spread across an area of 90 sq. km. Sprawling in the lap of nature, with its exemplary biodiversity dwelling in altitudes that swing from 500m all the way up to 2400m, it is a true trekker’s paradise. The highest peak here is Nandanmala (2372m). Due to the low annual rainfall it receives, the sanctuary is famous for its characteristic thorny scrub forest with xerophyte species of plants. The sanctuary has many ecotourism activities, organized by the Forest Dept. and Eco-development committees, which includes river trekking, trekking to the cultural site, nature trail to the watchtower, trekking to Thoovanam falls, trekking and camping at Vasyappara, etc.

Flora: Thorny shrub forests of different species of acacia; dry deciduous species like Cassia fistula, Santalum album, etc. Also, there are many shoal and wetland species like Rhododendron, Elaeocarpus, etc.

Fauna: 34 species of mammals. The second largest population of Grizzled giant squirrel in India. The reserve is also known for the legendary White Bison of Manjappatti. Other notable mammals include spotted deer, elephants, panthers, common langurs, guars, etc. Furthermore, there are also 245 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles, 22 species of amphibians and 42 species of fishes in the sanctuary

PARAMBIKULAM TIGER RESERVE

An ecological hotspot in the Anamalai subunit of the Western Ghats in India, the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is located about 100km away from Palakkad. A stomping ground for an impressive tiger population, which is constantly on the rise, the reserve is also home to a plethora of endemic flora and fauna. Surrounded by other wildlife sanctuaries, it is one of the best protected ecological parks in the country with a vast expanse that stretches to 644 sq.km. The reserve has a core area of 391 sq.km and a buffer zone of 253 sq.km. The reserve is also popular for the first scientifically managed teak plantation in the world and the world’s oldest oak tree, which is believed to be around 350 years old.

Fauna: About 39 species of mammals, 16 species of amphibians, 61 species of reptiles, 47 species of fish, over 1000 species of insects and 124 species of butterflies and 250 species of birds have been reported from the region. Among the birds, the reserve is home to some spectacular species like the Grey-headed Fishing Eagle, the Peninsular Bay Owl, the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, the Black-capped Kingfisher, the Great Black Woodpecker and the Lesser Grey-headed Fish Eagle.

SILENT VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

A veritable treasure trove of burgeoning biodiversity, completely silent without the sound of chirping cicadas. That’s the renowned Silent Valley National Park for you. An unbeatably dense and wild jungle where the most endemic of fauna lurk untamed and the most dauntless of adventures await. Located in the Northeast corner of Palakkad district, Silent Valley was named a National Park only in 1984. It is protected by the Nilgiri Plateau to the North and the Mannarkkad Plains to the South. It constitutes the centrepiece of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, an integral part of the Western Ghats, which the UNESCO in 2012 as a World Heritage Site. Difficult to put to mere, words the exact feelings evoked by the experience these forests have to offer, Silent Valley is an absolute gift of nature, with secrets that mankind is yet to decipher.

Flora: Covered with lush evergreen forests, Silent Valley National Park boasts of a plethora of plants including Orchids, Ferns, Liverworts, Lichens, Algae, Grasses, Legumes, Rubiaceae, Asters, Cardamom, Black Pepper, Beans, Rice, etc. Also, here grow 101 plant species which are important in the Ayurvedic medicine.

Fauna: The signature animal of the Silent Valley National Park, the Lion-tailed macaques can be spotted in the deep jungles. Other fauna include Nilgiri Langur, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Nilgiri Tahr, Peshwa’s Bat, Hairy-winged Bat, Hanuman Langur, Tiger, Panther, Leopard Cat, Jungle Cat, Fishing Cat, Common Palm Civet, Small Indian Civet, Brown Palm Civet, Ruddy Mongoose, Stripe-necked Mongoose, Dhole, Clawless Otter, Sloth Bear, Small Travancore Flying Squirrel, Indian Pangolin, Porcupine, Wild Boar, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Elephant, Bush Frog, and Gaur.

Avifauna: Major species of birds spotted in the Pak include Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Grey Hornbill, White-bellied Treepie, Grey-headed Bulbul, Great Indian Hornbill, Long-legged Buzzard, Red Winged Crested Cuckoo, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Pale Harrier, Black-and-orange Flycatcher, Black Bulbul, etc.

KUMARAKAM BIRD SANCTUARY

Also known as Vembanad Bird Sanctuary for its distinct location on the banks of Lake Vembanad, the Kumarakam Bird Sanctuary is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Spread across 14 acres, this unique ecological destination is home to thousands of migratory birds. It is located near the Kumarakam village which is famous for its backwater tourism. For the complete experience, the guest can take a motorboat or houseboat to different bird watching spots through the lake.

Avifauna: Common attractions include Waterfowl, egret, heron, cormorant and Brahminy kite, etc. Other birds like the Siberian crane, Parrots, Teal, Lark, Flycatcher, etc. can be spotted during their respective migratory seasons.

THATTEKKAD BIRD SANCTUARY

A true halcyon of avifauna, the Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary (or Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, in honour of the legendary ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali) is described as ‘the richest bird habitat on peninsular India’ by Dr. Ali himself. Covering a total area of 25 sq.km and situated near Kothamangalam in Ernakulam district on the northern bank of River Periyar, it harbours over 500 species of birds. There are a number of points within the reserve from where a bird watcher can get the perfect view of these beautiful birds. For the tourists, a variety of environmental activities await at the reserve including the; Salim Ali nature trail, Visits to the Interpretation centre, Medicinal plant garden, nursery, orchiderium cum fern house, butterfly garden, animal rehabilitation centre and the eco shop.

Fauna: Over 720 species of plants grow in diverse ecosystems which includes; the Tropical rainforests, Semi evergreen forests, Moist deciduous forests, Riperian forests and Plantations.

Avifauna: The prodigious collection of the endemic bird population includes the rare and migratory Indian Pitta, Orange-headed thrush, Large-billed leaf-warbler, Jerdon's Nightjar, Indian cuckoo, Oriental darter. Cormorants, Whiskered terns, Collared scops owl, Ceylon frogmouth, Grey-fronted green pigeon, Yellow-browed bulbuls, etc.

Other Fauna: 22 species of butterflies, 52 species of fishes, 39 species of mammals, 36 species of reptiles and 17 species of amphibians.

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