Sahyadri ENews: LXXV
Ecological Status of Protected Areas (PA) in Kerala, Sothern Western Ghats

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Ecological Status of Protected Areas (PA) in Kerala, Sothern Western Ghats

Ramachandra T V, Arjun S.R. and Bharath Setturu  Cite
ENVIS[RP], Environmental Information System, Energy and Wetlands Research Group,
Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science - 560012      Phone: 080 22933099/22933503

Study Area

WG mountain range spreads over six states of India (Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, & Gujarat) with only interruption is in Palakkad District (Palaghat Gap) of Kerala State around 30 m is one of among 36 biodiversity hotspots in the World with a spatial extent of 1,60,000km2. Realizing the significance of WG, The Ministry of Environment and Forest of India constituted the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) to study the WG's status and demarcate the Ecological Sensitive Zones to make a recommendation for rejuvenation, conservation and protection. The panel recommended that 64% of the WG to be treated as an Ecological Sensitive Zone (ESZ). Subsequently, yet another High-Level Working Group (HLWG) was formed by the Ministry that recommended 37% of the area of WG is in ESZ.
WG has 68 protected areas, including 15 National Parks, 47 Wildlife Sanctuaries, & 6 Conservation Reserves. WG also supported with 2 Biosphere Reserve, Nilgiri, and Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve. Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve is on the southern side of WG Ranges. Figure 2 illustrates the distribution of PAs in WG.
Figure 2. The Protected Areas in WG
Protected areas in KERALA, Southern Western Ghats
Kerala, a state in South India located in the Malabar Coast Region. It spreads over an area about 38,863 km2. Kerala has 5 National Parks, 17 Wildlife Sanctuaries, and 1 Community Reserve. All the protected areas in Kerala, except 1 conservation reserve (Kadalundi Community Reserve) and 1 Wildlife Sanctuary (Magalvanam Bird Sanctuary) are part of WG. Idukki District has the maximum number of protected areas (10), including 5 National Park & 5 Sanctuaries. They are Anamudi Shola National Park (Figure 3), Eravikulam National Park (Figure 4), Mathikethan Shola National Park (Figure 5), Pampadum Shola National Park (Figure 6), Kurinjimala Wildlife Sanctuary (Figure 7), Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary (Figure 8), Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary (Figure 9), Periyar National Park & Tiger Reserve (Figure 10), Thattekadu Bird Sanctuary (Figure 11), etc.

Anamudi Shola National Park:
Anamudi Shola National Park (Figure 3) of Kerala has a spatial extent of 7.5 (Anamudi Shola National Park Management Plan, 2009 - 2018). It was established as a National Park on 21st Nov 2003, one of India’s largest shola forest eco-system with unique biodiversity and climate which is not seen elsewhere. The location is in between 10.16670N – 10.5N and 77.98330E – 77.5E, in Devikulam Taluk of Idukki District, Kerala, South India, under Munnar Wildlife Division. The park consists of three pristine shola reserve forests : Mannavan Shola, Pullaradi shola, and Idivara Shola (Anamudi Shola National Park Management Plan, 2009 - 2018). Mannavan Shola is the largest of them, containing nearly 20% (109 species) are endemic, and 25% (128species) are rare and another 26 species are threatened. The park receives rainfall ranging between 2000 – 2500mm and the climate is mostly cool with an average temperature of 7.5 0C – 30 0C with December as the coldest month and April, the warmest month. Elevation of the park is from 2152 m – 2305 m. Strobilanthes kunthiana commenly called “Neelakurinji”, an endemic shrub, blossoms once in 12 years and when blossoms the hill range appears blue. The average height of forest is about 20 – 25 m, comprising Souther subtropical hill forest; Southern montane wet temperate forest, and moist deciduous forest. There are 62 species of trees, 174 species of herbs, and shrubs 39 species of climbers. There are 100 species of butterflies among which Parantica nilgiriensis, commonly called “Nilgiri Tiger” is one of the endemic species, 232 of moths belonging to 36 different families, and 76 species of birds are also being recorded (Anamudi Shola National Park Management Plan, 2009 - 2018). The park is protected because of the unique shola forests, their rich biodiversity, and endemic and threatened species found here. Muthuvans are the only tribal group in ASNP, settled in Koodalar, Valsapatty, and Samiyarala and the highest concentration is found in Anamudi hills. Mainly there are two groups based on the difference in dialects, namely- Malayalam Muthuvan and Pandi Muthuvan. Malayalam or Nadan Muthuvan is from Adimal area and Tamil or Pandi Muthuvan is in Munnar and Devikulam area. The colonies, namely Perumala, Puthur, Kanthallur, and Kulichivayal, which is on the northern outskirts of ASNP, are mainly inhabited by Tamil Muthuvans. As per the Kanthallur Panchayath records, there are about 631 households in these seven settlements (Ajesh et al., 2012).

Eravikualam National Park:
Eravikulam National Park (ENP) is located in the highest ranges of Idukki district, Kerala, between 10.08330 – 10.3330 N and 77 – 77.08330 E (Figure 4) ( ENP was established in 1978 and have an area of 97 km2 and created for conservation for Nilgiri Tahr, ilgiritragus hylocrius, which is restricted only in the WG. The region forms a unique habitat, a mosaic of terrain with dominant grasslands with the steep rocky cliff. Primary vegetation is in the southern tropical hill forest, southern montane wet temperate forest, southern montane wet scrub, and southern wet grassland. The maximum area is southern montane wet grassland covered with small patches of montane wet temperate forest, which is the Shola and is confined to the small area. Eravikulam is a potential area for many perennial rivers and major rivers. It serves as a catchment for many rivers such as Kaveri (Cauvery), at east and river Periyar and Chalakkudy, at West (Alembath, 2010). Monsoon climate dominates the area throughout the year. The average rainfall is 2000-5000mm. Temperature varies between -3oC to 29oC. ENP is divided into three zones for the administrative and technical purpose. The Core Zone covering an area of 65, then the buffer zone which is and finally of tourism zone which is at Rajamala. Core zone can be reached by foot through the Vaguvarrai tea estate of the Tata-Tea. Considering the faunal population in ENP, there are 26 mammals, 133 birds, 85 butterflies and 22 amphibians. Wild dog (Cuon alpines), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Tiger (Panthera tigris), Sambar (Cervus unicolor), etc., are some of the vital species apart from the flagship species, Nilgiri tahr and more than 490 species of floral species (Perinchery, 2008).
Muthuvans are tribes settled in four areas of which the only one is inside ENP, which is in Lakkomkudy on the southern boundary. Parappayarkudy, Parakkudy, Nooradykudy are on the fringes of the western boundary of ENP which is part of Edamalakudy, Idukki, the first Tribal Panchayath in Kerala. The tribal settlement at Lakkomkudy has an area of 44.088 ha with 46 families (population is 168). The rest of the settlement contains 102 families having a population more than 380 (

Mathikettan Shola National Park:
Mathikettan Shola National Park (MSNP) is located in Poopara village of Udumbanchola taluk in Idukki district in the high ranges of South WG, Kerala (Figure 5). MSNP was established in the year 2003, covering an area of 12.8 km2. The area comes under Cardamom Hill Reserve (CHR). It was recommended as a national park by the state wildlife advisory board due to the unique shola forest ecosystem, it is important as an elephant corridor and also to preserve the forest from tangible and intangible benefits. The Panniyar tributaries namely, Uchinikuthipuzha, Mathikettan Puzha and Njandar streams, originate from this forest.
Vegetation includes west coast tropical evergreen forests, west coast semi-evergreen forests, and south Indian moist deciduous and grassland. The climax vegetation is found at 600 to 1200 m in the west coast tropical evergreen forest. The soil moisture content is more because of the leaf litter covering the ground, which helps grow tree seedlings and herbaceous flora. The floral community includes 63 species of trees, 63 species of herbs and shrubs, 15 species of climbers etc. Bhesa indica, Calophyllum austro-indicum, Syzygium gardneri Chionanthus rami flours, Litsea wightina, etc. are some of the dominant species here. It is an abode for Strobilanthes Kantian's and is found in grasslands. MSNP is a home for a wide variety of fauna, including threatened and endemic species. The richness in fauna is due to the unique microclimate. Fauna found here are at least 13 species of insect, 27 species of birds, and 9 species of mammals. Lion-tailed macaque, an endemic and threatened species of WG and Y. Parantica nilgiriensis, a threatened butterfly, and Muthuvan tribal people are in this region.

Pambadum Shola National Park:
Pambadum Shola National Park (PSNP), Vattavada Panchayat of Devikulam Taluk, Idukki District, Kerala, is located on the eastern side of high ranges of Southern WG, falls between the latitude 10.11667 - 10.1667 and longitude 77.233 -77.7833 (Figure 6). Altitude ranges from 1600 m up to 2000 m. It is the smallest National Park in Kerala which comes under Munnar Wildlife Division. PSNP was declared as a national park in the year 2003, before 2003, it was known as Shola Reserve (from 1901). PSNP covers an area of 11.753 km2, and temperature varies in between 280C – 90C. Mostly 4 – 5 months will be dry months spanning between December and March. PSNP receives both southwest and northeast monsoon. PSNP is located in Tamil Nadu state, and due to that it receives heavy rainfall during north-east monsoon. Humidity varies from 55% to 70%. The most prominent vegetation found here are the grasslands and shola forest. PSNP is having the highest biodiversity unique to the shola vegetation. Fauna and flora include several threatened and endemic species. There are about 9 species of mammals, 14 species of birds, 321 species of Lepidoptera of which 89 species belong to the suborder Rhopalocera (butterflies) and rest to Heterocera (moths). Muthuvans tribes , 13 endemic butterfly species and rare species like Libythea lepita, Pantoporia ranga, Rohana pariasatis, Zipoetis saintis and Jamides dalecto are found here. Flora consists of 22 species of trees, 74 species of herbs and shrubs, 16 species of climbers.

Silent Valley National Park:
The Silent Valley National Park (SVNP), one of the largest national parks in Kerala, is located in Nilgiri Hills in Palakkad district, Kerala (Figure 7). SVNP is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and also known as Sairandhrivanam. The name Silent Valley came due to the absence of Cicadas insect, abundant in a tropical forest. In 1914 Silent Valley area was declared as a reserved forest. Due to the presence of a large population of the endangered species Macaca silenus, Lion-tailed Macaque, was established as National Park in 1984. SVNP covers an area of 237.52 sq. km of natural rainforest and comes under the Project Elephant area. 89.47 km2 is the core zone, and 148 km2 is a buffer zone. SVNP has two ranges, Silent Valley National Park Range covering 89.52 core area & 54 sq. km buffer area, and Bhavani Range covering 94 sq. km of buffer area. SNVP lies between latitude 11o 2’ N and 11o 13’ N and longitudes 76o 24’ E and 76o 32’ E. Elevation ranges from 900 m to 2300 m above MSL. Aginda peak is the highest peak, with an elevation of 2383 m. The soil here is generally loamy with undulating steep escarpments and many hillocks terrain. The average minimum temperature is 8 oC to 14 oC is, and the maximum temperature is 23 o C to 29 o C. SVNP is mainly covered with thick woody vegetation of about 75-80% and about 20% grassland with a mosaic of rocky patches and water bodies. It serves as an important catchment area for Kunthipuzha (Bharathapuzha), Bhavani (Cauvery), Kottapuzha (Chaliyar), and Olipuzha (Kadalundipuzha) rivers. SVNP has a mosaic of varied habitats. There are about 315 faunal species belonging to Annelida, Arthropoda, Mollusca, fishes, amphibia, reptilia, and mammals (Zoological Survey of India), of which 39 species including 15 invertebrates are endemic. A Large population of Lion Tailed Macaque populations is confined to tropical wet evergreen forests. The national park has about 211 bird species, 43 reptiles, 46 amphibians, 12 fishes, 145 butterfly species, 400 species of moth, and endangered Nilgiri tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius) in the higher altitudes. Eleven tribal settlements are situated within the buffer zone of SVNP. Kattunayakans, Kurumbas, Irulas, and Mudugas are the tribal groups settled here. Kattunayakans (Kattu Naiken) are settled in SVNP ranges, and Kurumbas, Irulas, and Mudugas are in Bhavani Ranges. They are mainly engaged in common crop cultivation like ragi, mustard, dal maize etc., and collection of non-timber forest products (NTFP) such as honey, medicinal plants etc from buffer area.

Parambikulam Tiger Reserve:
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve (PkTR) was established in 2010 with 390.89 km2 core area and 252.77 km2 buffer area (Figure 8). 285 km2 of the area was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1973. PkTR is located in Palakkad district in Chittur taluk and Thrissur district in Mukundapuram taluk. PkTR is mainly preserved for its tiger population. It is adjacent to Eravikulam National Park, Chimmony Wildlife Sanctuary, & Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, and Annamalai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. PkTR is in Anamalai and Nelliampathy Hills. PkTR lie in between 10° 20’ – 10° 26’ N and 76° 35’- 76° 50’ E. Altitude ranges between 300 m and 1438 m. Karimala Gopuram is the highest peak (1438m). Forest forms catchment to rivers and streams of the sanctuary. Parambikulam, Sholayar and Thekkady are the major rivers. Parambikulam, Thunacadavu and Peruvaripallam are the man-made reservoirs in the sanctuary. Flora and fauna are rich in the reserve. PkTR got mosaic vegetation of evergreen, semi-evergreen, moist dry etc. More than 170 species of flora and species such as Palaquium ellipticum, Calophyllum polyanthum, Mesua ferrea, Adina cordifolia, Artocarpus hirsutus, Bombax ceiba or Salmalia malabarica etc. form the top canopy. Around 28 floral species are endemic. Some patches of Teak (Tectona grandis) can also be found on the lower hills of the reserve, which were planted during 1921 – 1983. PkTR has a rich fauna with 39 mammals, 16 amphibians, 268 birds 61 reptiles 47 fishes, 1049 insects and 124 butterflies. Macaca radiata, Presbytis johni, Macaca silenus, Panthera tigris, Felis chaus, Panthera pardus etc. are the major mammals. Crocodylus palustris, Melanochelys trijuga, lizards, snakes etc. are some reptilian species. Dominant fishes are Mahseer, Cutla, Rogu, Baral, Tilapia etc. Around 103 faunal species are endemic. 413 out of 1049 insect species are still unidentified. 11 settlements are in the buffer zone of PkTR. Muthuvan, Kadar, Malayan, Malamalsar are the major tribal groups.

Periyar Tiger Reserve & National Park:
Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) is a repository of endemic flora and fauna spreading over an area of 925 sq km (Figure 9). In 1978 PTR was declared as Tiger Reserve, which was a sanctuary since 1950, 305 sq km of the core area is declared as National Park in 1982. PTR is located in Cardamom Hills and Pandalam Hills of Southern WG between 9o17'56.04” and 9o37'10.2” N and 76o56'12.12” and 77o25'5.52” E. PTR extends between altitude 1700 m to 1200 m. Temperature ranges from a minimum of 15oC in December to a maximum of 31oC during April and May. PTR is the abode of numerous endemic and threatened species with a great diversity of flora and fauna. PTR forms 10% of the total forest area in the State, and consists 41% of flowering plants of Kerala. Of 4801 species, 1985 are flowering plants, 519 species (about 26%) are endemic to WG, and 149 species are under various threatened categories. More than 350 species of plants in PTR are listed as medicinal plants. PTR, which comes under Anamalai Hill Range, has 94 species which is exclusively endemic to this region and 25 species are endemic to Anamalai Ranges. PTR forms a home to several endangered faunal like tiger, leopard, elephant, gaur, sambar, lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri langur, Nilgiri tahr, Nilgiri marten, etc. PTR has 66 species of mammals, of which 7 are endemic to the WG, 323 species of birds (14 are endemic to WG), 48 species of reptiles (17 are endemic to WG), 29 species of amphibians (12 are endemic to WG), 45 species of fishes (16 are endemic to WG including 7 endemics to Periyar) and 167 species of butterflies (20 are endemic to WG). Tribal settlements are found in the buffer region. Malampandaram, Mannan, Paliyan, Urali, Mala Arayan, Ulladar are the tribal group in PTR.

Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary:
Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary (AWLS) is located in the northern part of Kerala, in the Kannur district (Figure 10). AWLS falls in between 110 54’ - 11 0 59’ latitude and 750 47’ & 75057’ East. AWLS was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1984 and covered an extent of 55 km2. The sanctuary receives 4000mm average rainfall, temperature ranges between 11oC to 40oC, humidity is around 60 – 100% . AWLS falls in the WG and has high biodiversity richness, economic benefits, cultural values, and a vital watershed. The Forest of AWLS is contagious adjacent to Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka and Kottiyoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala. About 30 endemic floral species and 45 endemic faunal species are present here. Kurichiar and Paniyar are the tribal groups in this region.

Chimmony Wildlife Sanctuary:
Chimmony Wildlife Sanctuary (CmWLS) is situated in Mukundapuram Taluk, Chalakudy Forest Division of Thrissur district in Kerala State, between 10024’ to 10029’N and 76025’ to 76030’E (Figure 11). It comes in the Western slopes of the Nelliampathi forest of WG. The park was established in 1984, with an area of 90 km2. CmWLS is contiguous with Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary on East and Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary in the West, forming a continuous protected area of 210 km2. Elevation ranges from 1126m to 2500m above MSL. The highest point of the sanctuary lies at the Ponmudi ranges (928m) and Mangattu Komban (855m). Kurumali River and Mupliam River are the two watersheds of the park. Across the Chimmony River, there is the Chimmony Dam. CmWLS is eminent for it rich biodiversity.  Park harbors 39 species of mammals, 25 species of reptiles, 14 species of amphibians, and 31 species of fish. There are 192 avian species reported from CmWLS and 5 WG endemic birds are found here. The grey-headed bulbul (Pycnonotus priocephalus), Indian rufous babbler (Turdoides subrufus), white-bellied blue-flycatcher (Cyornis pallipes) etc are some of the endemic avian species. Some of the other avian species are Indian edible-nest swiftlet (Collocalia unicolor), Malabar trogon (Harpactes fasciatus), Malabar whistling-thrush (Myiophonus horsfieldii) and Loten's sunbird (Nectarinia lotenia). Recent studies reveal the existence of lesser fish eagle (Ichthyophaga humilis) in this park, which was known to be found in the only Himalayas. The park consists Tiger (Panthera tigris), Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and wild dog (Cuon alpinus). The endemic primate species like lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus), Nilgiri langur (Trachypithecus johnii) and slender loris (Loris lydekkerianus) which are found in this park make this park a biodiversity-rich area. The tribal community named Malaya is settled within the limits of the sanctuary.

Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary:
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary (CWLS) with a spatial extent of 94 sq km, lies between 10° 15’ to 10° 21’ N 77° 05’ to 77° 16’ E (Figure 12) and is located in the Eastern (rain shadow) part of WG, in Idukki, Kerala. CWLS comes under Anamudi Elephant Reserve and is declared as a sanctuary in 1984. CWLS is adjacent to Eravikulam National Park, Anamudi Shola National Park, Kurinjimala Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala. Mostly consist of grassland, wet grassland, South WG montane rain forests, and shola forests at high elevation. At mid-elevation, it consists of dry deciduous forest and at lower elevations thorny scrub forests. CWLS has significance for its rich reptilian diversity, thorny shrub forest, and its rich diversity of medicinal plants. White bison is present at Manjampatti. Grizzled Giant Squirrel, the large tree squirrel in the genus Ratufa found in the hill forests of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, is the flagship species of CWLS. Geologically, the terrain is undulating with hills of varying heights of altitude ranging from 400 m at Chinnar to 2372 m at Nandalamala. Varayattumalai (1845 m), Thengamalai (1422 m), Vellakkalmalai (1883 m), Jambumalai (1395 m), Aralipara (1494 m), Karumalai, Anakkunnu and Jellimalai are some of the other major hills in CWLS. Sanctuary also functions as prominent catchments of an East flowing river, particularly the immediate catchment of Amaravathi reservoir in Tamil Nadu. CWLS falls in the rain shadow region and hence has a prolonged hot/dry season with the lesser rainy days. The plain regions are hotter, while higher altitudes are cooler. CWLS harbours a diverse flora and fauna; 34 species of mammals, 245 species of birds like Yellow Throated Bulbul, 52 species of reptiles, 42 species of fishes, 22 amphibian species, and 156 butterfly species. Panther, tiger, spotted deer, Indian elephants, gaur, sambar deer, common langur, tufted grey langur, bonnet macaque, hanuman langur, threatened species like Nilgiri tahr, vulnerable species like rusty spotted cats, gizzled giant squirrels etc are some of the mammalian species from this sanctuary. Among 52 reptilian species, 29 are snakes. It provides a habitat for Star Tortoise, Marsh Crocodile, and a large population of vulnerable Mugger Crocodiles. Chinnar and Pambar River contain Garra mullya minnows, river-carp baril, giant danio, and the endangered hill stream game fish Deccan mahseer. 101 spider species have been found recently from this park. Being part of WG, the region is endowed with the rich floristic diversity of 965 species of flowering plants. Albizzia lathamii, a critically endangered tree species, and Marayoor sandalwood are found in this sanctuary. It is the only protected area in Kerala with Hill Pulaya tribal community.

Chulannur Peafowl Sanctuary:
The area was established as a Sanctuary in 2007 based on the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 under section 18 (Figure 13) and is located in the districts of Thrissur and Palakkad. The terrain is undulating with small hillocks with patches of rocky outgrowth irregularly, and the average altitude is 120 m. Sanctuary receives an average rainfall of 2200 mm from both southwest and northeast monsoon. Deciduous forests in this sanctuary are habitats for flagship species, Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus), and Peafowl was declared as National Bird of India in 1963 (Ranjith and Jose, 2016). The sanctuary has 79 bird species and 337 tree species (Chulannur Peafowl Sanctuary Management Plan).

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary:
Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary (IWLS) is a part of Nagarampara Reserve and is spread across over Thodupuzha and Udumpanchola taluks of Idukki district, the second-largest district in Kerala (Figure 14). . The sanctuary is a fragment part of high range forest separated from the main vegetation area extending between Munnar Hills, which covers Eravikulam National Parks, Shola National Parks, Kurinjimala Wildlife Sanctuary, Periyar Tiger Reserve and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. With the undulating terrains covering with hills, Idukki contains the most naturally beautiful landscapes of Kerala. IWLS covers a total extent of 105.364 km2 and is a part of WG and about 33 km2 consists of water reservoirs. IWLS is a catchment of the Periyar River. The sanctuary consists of two sections: (i) Idukki section, part of Nagarampara Range, and (ii) Kizhukanam Section, part of Ayyappankovil Range. Idukki Hydro Electric Project is situated in this sanctuary and arch shaped dam is one of a kind in India and the largest in Asia. The forest surrounding the reservoir forms the habitat for diverse living organisms. IWLS is an isolated patch of forest which was formed due to the fragmentation of forests with the developmental activities . IWLS is a part of Anamudi Elephant Reserve and the region has 172 species of aves, 72 species of butterflies, 55 species of reptiles, 28 species of mammals, 30 fish species, and 28 species of amphibians. There are 429 plant species belonging to 87 families and 37 species are endemic to Southern WG. IWLS contains 12 human hill settlements inside the sanctuary thay depend on sanctuary for firewood, grazing, etc. (Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary, Management Plan).

Kottiyoor Wildlife Sanctuary:
Kottiyoor Wildlife Sanctuary (KWLS), with a spatial extent of 30.38 km2 was declared as the 23rd sanctuary by the Government of Kerala in the year 2011 is located in the eastern hilly region of Kannur district of Kerala State (Figure 15) and is a part of WG and is an extension of Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary in Kannur district, Kerala. KWLS is situated in the boundary of Kerala state and is adjacent to Bandipur National Park, a Tiger Reserve in Karnataka (

Kurinjimala Wildlife Sanctuary:
Kurinjimala Wildlife Sanctuary (KmWLS) located in eastern slope Vattavada village in Devikulam Taluk, Idukki district and shares boundary with Tamilnadu in Kodaikanal. KmWLS (Figure 16) is surrounded by protected areas on four directions, i.e., Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary on the north, Manjappetty National Park on the north-west, Pampadum Shola National Park to the south, Palani Hill National Park on the East. Sanctuary covers an area of about 30 km2 in the Southern WG and was established in October 2006 for conservation of Neelakurinji (Strobilanthus kunthianus) an endangered species found in the Shola forest the WG above 1800 m. The beauty of this shrubby plant is that it flowers once in 12 years, turning the entire valley bluish. The name Nilgiri Hills came due to this bluish flower and the name ‘Nilgiri Hills’ literally means the Blue Mountains. Around 250 various species of this plant are present across the globe, of which at least 46 are found in India. Flowering time varies from an annual to 16-year blooming cycle for each species. KmWLS is also an abode to species like elephant, gaur, Nilgiri tahr deer, tiger, leopard, etc. (Kurinjimala Sanctuary Management Plan).

Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary:
Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary spreads over the WG, covering an area of about 74.215 km2located in Chakkittappara and Koorachundu revenue villages of Quilandy Taluk between 11075’ and 110 76 ‘North and between 760 20’ and 750 38’ East (Figure 17). It. Sanctuary is a part of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and also Wayanad Elephant Reserve. The forest serves as a catchment to the nearby water-bodies like Kuttiady River, the largest river in Kozhikode district. Onipuzha, Alerimuzhi thodu or Alampara thodu, Kadantharapuzha, Muthuveedu puzha are the drains that join to Kuttiady River. Temperature varies from 160C to 380C, February being the coolest and April being the warmest month, and humidity ranges from 60 to 100%. MWLS receives both southwest and northeast monsoons. The monsoon starts from June and stays up to November. December to March generally is the dry month. Sanctuary consists of a diverse variety of vegetation types, namely, West-coast Tropical Evergreen, West-coast Semi-evergreen, Southern Moist Mixed Deciduous, Southern Hill-top Evergreen Forests, Grasslands, and Marshy grasslands (Vayals). There are 680 species of flowering plants, including 226 species endemic to southern WG (about 30%) and 69 species are under the threatened category. Some of the species present include species that are treated as extinct like Meteoromyrtus wynaadensis, Syzygium stocksii, Eugenia argentea, Syzygium floccosum, Atuna indica, Coffea crassifolia, Garcinia malabarica, Humboldtia brunonis var. rakthapushpa. Atuna indica, Eugenia argentea and Humboldtia brunonis var. rakthapushpa are found only in this sanctuary. It has rich medicinal plants with over 200 species, and there are 50 ferns, including 3 tree ferns. There are 41 species of mammals, 179 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles, 38 species of amphibians, 52 species of fishes, 143 butterfly species and 51 dragonfly species. Among these, 6 mammalian species, 8 reptilian species, 26 species of amphibians, 21 fish species, 8 butterfly species and 11 dragonfly species are endemic to WG. Of the total bird species, 5 are globally threatened species, 6 are range-restricted, and 10 are endemic. Philautus ponmudi, P. anili, P. tuberohumerus, P. neurostegona, P. ochlandrae, P. akroparallagi and P. chromasynhysi are the new species of amphibians reported recently. The endangered fish species Tor khudree (Mahseer) are present in Kakkayam hill streams (

Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary:
Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary (NWLS) is located between 8017’ and 8053’N and 76040’ and 77017’E in Trivandrum district, Kerala state (Figure 18), covering about 128 km2 in the southern corner of WG, and part of Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve. In 1971 the spatial extent of the sanctuary was widened with the inclusion of Neyyar Reservoir. It is one of the two sanctuaries which are under Thiruvanathapuram Wildlife Division, Kerala. Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary and Agasthyavanam Biological Park is also under the control of Thiruvanathapuram Wildlife Division. Agasthyavanam having an area of 23 km2 area is sandwiched between the two Wildlife Sanctuaries in Thiruvanathapuram. Sanctuary lies within the catchment area of Neyyar River, which originates from the highest peak in the Sanctuary, Agasthyarkoodam (1868 m). NWLS receives both southwest and northeast monsoon with an average rainfall of 2800 mm and a mean temperature of 16 0C to 35 0C. The sanctuary is divided into three zones; Core Zone, Buffer Zone and Eco-tourism Zone. Ananirathi, Venkulamedu, Pulivizhunthanchuna, Varayattumudi, Meenmutty, Theerthakkara, Kaduvappara, Athirumala regions come under the core zone of the sanctuary, which is about 68 km2 or 60% of the total area. In the buffer area, there are human settlements and is extended up to 40 km2 in the western part of the sanctuary. Areas of Valliyar, Mullayar, Utharamkayam etc. are part of this zone. About 20 km2 areas near the water reservoir and nearby forest land are treated as eco-tourism zone (Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary Management Plan (2012 - 13 to 2021 - 22). The sanctuary has rich diversity of flora and fauna with 1000 species of flowering plants, in which nearly 12% are endemic to the region and many are threatened species. Almost 125 species of orchid are also reported from here. ‘Arogyapacha’ (Trichopus zeylanicus) with anti-fatigue property is reported from this region. Fauna consists of 43 species of mammals, 217 species of birds, 46 species of reptiles, 13 species of amphibians, 27 species of fishes, 109 species of butterflies. Lion Tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Langur, and Nilgiri Tahr which are the WG endemic species of this region. Neyyar is famous for Crocodile Park (42 Mugger Crocodiles and Research Centre named Agasthya Crocodile Park and Research Centre was established in May 2007. There is also a deer rehabilitation center (Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary Management Plan (2012 - 13 to 2021 -22) and 18 tribal settlements inside the sanctuary at Ayyavilakam, thenmala, chakkappara, vlavetty, kaippamplavila etc. (

Peechi –Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary:
Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary (PVWLS) is located at 760 15’-760 27’E, and 10030’-10042’ N (Figure 19), covering about 125 km2, Peechi, Thrissur district, of Kerala, India, and the sanctuary was established in 1958. It consists of Palapilli – Neliyampathi forest ranges and Peechi Dam. PVWLS forms a continuous forest with Chimmony Wildlife Sanctuary on the east and Palakkad Forest Division on the north. The terrain is undulating, and altitude ranges from 100 to 914 m above sea level. The area has a warm, humid climate. Temperature varies from 200C - 350C. Humidity is mostly more than 55% and reaches 100% during monsoon. The average rainfall is between 2000 – 4000 mm from both southwest and northeast monsoon (Mathew, 2005). Vegetation includes evergreen forest, semi-evergreen forest, and deciduous forest. Some of the common species are Xylia xylocarpa, Terminalia bellerica, Terminalia tomentosa, Garuga pinnata, Cinnamum spp. Bridelia retusa, Grewia tiliaefolia, Haldina cordifolia etc. The lower canopy species like Ixora spp., Lantana camara and Clerodendrum spp. are found as undergrowth. Also, the Forest Department has converted a noticeable portion of the forest into teak and eucalyptus. Major animals include tiger, elephant, gaur, sambar, beer etc. (Mathew, et al.,2005).

Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary:
Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary (PWLS) with a spatial extent 53 km2 is located at 80 34' and 80 41'N and 770 6' and 770 14' E (Figure 20)in Nedumangad Taluk of Thiruvanathapuram District, Kerala and was declared as a national park in 1983. It lies in between. Previously the area was part of the Paruthippally Range of Thiruvanathapuram Forest Division. Peppara Dam (5.82 km2 water spread area) is within the sanctuary. The dam was built to fulfill the water requirement of Thiruvanathapuram city and suburban areas. Sanctuary is surrounded by Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary in the southeast, Agasthyavanam Biological Park in the West and Paruthipally River, on the eastern side is the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve of Tamilnadu ( PWLS has mainly 2 zones; Core and buffer zone. Core zone with restrictions of human interference is located on the eastern side of the sanctuary extending to 30 km2 i.e. about 60% of the total area of the sanctuary. Chemmunjimottai, Koviltherimalai, Athirumala, Nachiyarmottai, Kannan kunnu, Kadirumudimalai etc. The buffer zone is on the western side of PWLS, covering about 23 km2 area, which is about 40% of the park's total area. There is a tourist zone which is merged with the buffer zone. The undulating terrain ranges from 100m to 1717 m (the third highest peak Chummunjimotta). Vast populations of wild gaurs are present in Pandipath, which is a plateau region, located between Peppara and Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve of Tamilnadu (Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary Management Plan). Peppara is rich in floral and faunal biodiversity forms a part of the Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve in the WG. The region consists of vegetation of West coast tropical evergreen forest, Southern hilltop tropical evergreen forest, West Coast semi-evergreen forest, Southern moist mixed deciduous forest, Myristica swamp forest, Sub-montane hill valley swamp forest, and Riparian forests, etc. Common tree species are Terminalia paniculata, T. bellerica, Pterocarpus marsupium, Palaquium ellipticum, Mesua ferrea, Hopea parviflora, Bombax ceiba, Syzygium cumini, Lagerstroemia microcarpa, Albizia procera, Alstonia scholaris, etc. The Southern moist mixed deciduous forest forms the major vegetation in PWLS. The sanctuary is one among the seven Medicinal Plant Conservation Area (MPCA) in Kerala ( as the region has diverse and vast varieties of medicinal plants (in 173 ha). PWLS consists 43 species of mammals, 233 species of birds, 46 species of reptiles, 13 species of amphibians, 27 species of fishes, 97 species of butterflies. Major mammals include Tiger, Leopard, Sloth Bear, Elephant, Sambar deer, Gaur, etc. WG endemic species like Lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri Langur and Nilgiri Marten increases the faunistic richness of this sanctuary. Filament barb, Tilopia, Silver fish, Cat fish, Eel etc. are the fish variety present here. 13 tribal settlements (Chemmankala, Vlavil, Podiyakala, Mukkothivayal, etc.) are established inside the sanctuary (Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary Management Plan).

Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary:
Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary (ShWLS), with an area of 171 km2, is located at 8044’ - 9014’ N and 76059’ - 77016’E (Figure 21), in Pathanapuram Taluk of Kollam District, Kerala State under Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve and was established in 1984. ShWLS got its name from a tree which is locally called “Chenkurinji”, Gluta travancorica an endemic tree. The area is under the administration of Thenmala Forest Division before it was under Thiruvananthapuram Wildlife Division. Sanctuary is encompassed by reserve forest of Thenmala, Thiruvanathapuram, Punalur Forest Divisions, and Thirunelveli Forest Division of Tamilnadu on all four sides. Thenmala Dam is covered by the forest of ShWLS. Sanctuary is demarcated into three zones core, buffer, and tourism. The core zone is strictly prohibited from human interference and covers an area around 75.5 km2 which is around 44% of the total sanctuary area. Pandimotta, Alwarkurichi, Umayar, Aruliyar, Narathar, Dharbhakulam etc. areas come under core zone. The buffer zone is between the core and tourism zone, with an area of 47.13 km2 which is about 27.6%. The tourism zone consists of 48.35 km2, about 28.20% of the total sanctuary. This zone consists of the west coast semi-evergreen forest, reed brakes, southern secondary moist mixed deciduous forests, small patches of grasslands, and a major reservoir. Tropical evergreen and semi-evergreen forest cover is the major forest type and endemic species are Gluta travancorica, Cynometra bourdilonii and Palaquium bourdilonii. The sanctuary consists of endemic species such as Lion Tailed Macaque, Nilgiri langur, Slender loris, Nilgiri Marten, etc., and threatened taxa,tiger and elephant (Management Plan f Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary 2012-13 to 2021-2022).

Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary:
Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary falls between 1007’ – 1100’N and 76040’ - 76045’ E (Figure 22) and is located in Kothamanglam Taluk, Ernakulam District in Kerala State. It was established in 1983 with an area of 25.16 km2 in the northern bank of the Periyar River. Sanctuary is surrounded by Kuttampuzha and Neriyamangalam Ranges and the two rivers namely the Periyar and the Edamalaya. Dr. Salim Ali reported 167 bird species (16 species endemic)in 1933. Recent studies show that there are 284 species. Great Eared Nightjar (Eurostopodus macrotis bourdilloni) has been spotted in this sanctuary which is recorded from Tamilnadu only.  More than birds, there are 222 species of butterflies (15 endemic to the WG), 52 species of fish of which 23 are endemic to the WG (i.e., around 50%) and 4 endemic to Kerala, 39 species of Mammals of which 2 endemic to WG, 34 species of reptiles, 17 amphibian species (11 endemic to WG). It is an abode to rare species like Three Toed Forest Kingfisher, Ceylon Frogmouth, Crimson Throated Barbet, Bee Eater, Sunbird, Shrike, Fairy Blue Bird, Grey Headed Fishing Eagle, Black Winged Kite, Night Heron, Grey Heron, Malabar Trogon, Shama and Malabar Grey Hornbill. 728 floral species belonging to 109 families are reported from here, of which 125 are endemic to Southern WG and 4 found only in Kerala (Management Plan Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary 2012-2013 to 2021-2022).

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary:
Wayanad came from two local words – ‘Vayal’ means ‘swamp’ and ‘Nadu’ means ‘place’. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWLS), with a spatial extent of 344.44 km2 comprises of two discontinuous forest patches of 77.67 km2 (WS-I) and 266.77 km2 (WS-II). WS-I located in Mananthavady Taluk of Wayanad District lies between the geographical extremes 11050’ – 11059’N & 76002 – 7607’E (Figure 23). WS-II falls between 11035’N – 11049’N & 76013’E – 76027’E (Figure 4.22) and is located in the Sulthan Bathery Taluk of Wayanad District. . WWLS was declared as a sanctuary in 1973, a part of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and a vital component of the Elephant Reserve of South India. It is administered by Wayanad Wildlife Division. The sanctuary is part of the Wayanad Plateau (3000 km2), consisting of three biologically distinct regions–the main WG Mountains, the Nilgiri Hills, and the Deccan Plateau. Plateau is confined to most of its Kerala area and shares with Karnataka and Tamilnadu. The Plateau rises steeply from the coastal plain of Kerala and moves eastward, merging with the Deccan Plateau. The plateau is a contiguous network of protected areas in Karnataka (Nagarhole and Bandipur Tiger Reserve) on the eastern side and Tamilnadu (Mudumalai Tiger Reserve) on the northern side. These four protected areas form a contiguous stretch of forest having an area of 2184 km2. The sanctuary has been delineated with two zones mainly for management purposes – Core Zone of 111 km2 area along the interstate forest boundaries and is free from human interference, 233 km2 of buffer area and tourism zone. WWLS has 45 species of mammals (2 species are endemic and 9 are threatened species), 227 species of birds (6 are endemic species and 6 threatened species), 50 species of reptiles, 35 species of amphibians (8 are endemic species), 80 species of fishes which haves 49 endemic species and 16 threatened species) and 143 butterflies. The sanctuary also has four-horned Antelope and the World’s largest population of Asiatic Elephants. Red-headed and white-backed vultures, once common in Kerala are now restricted to Wayanad Plateau. Forest serves as catchments for the tributaries of Kabani River. Nagarhole-Bandipur Mudumalai-Wayanad forest patch serves as an important habitat for the tiger. Human settlements are found in Tholpetty Range, Kurichiar Range, Sulthan Bathery Range, Muthanga Range.

Figure 3 Anamudi Shola National Park

Figure 4 Eravikulam National Park

Figure 5 Mathikettan Shola National Park

Figure 6. Pampadum Shola National Park

Figure 7. Silent Valley National Park

Figure 8. Parambikulam Tiger Reserve

Figure 9. Periyar Tiger Reserve and National Park

Figure 10. Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary

Figure 11. Chimmony Wildlife Sanctuary

Figure 2. Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary

Figure 13. Chulanoor Pea Fowl Sanctuary

Figure 14. Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary

Figure 15. Kottiyoor Wildlife Sanctuary

Figure 16. Kurinjimala Wildlife Sanctuary

Figure 17. Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary

Figure 18. Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Figure 19. Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary

Figure 20. Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary

Figure 21. Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary

Figure 22. Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary

Figure 23. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
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