Wildlife of Kerala
The Western Ghats of Kerala is home to as many as fourteen wildlife sanctuaries that are often surrounded some exotic trails in the country. A delight to the adventurous and nature lovers, the air of these habitats has fragrance of spices and other enchantingly aromatic plantations such as tea, coffee, vanilla, oranges and mangoes. Here, we have covered most of the major wildlife sanctuaries and national parks for the benefit of our readers:
Silent Valley National Park
This 90 sq km of almost virgin forest came into focus when the Kerala State Electricity Board decided to set up a hydroelectric project in the Valley in the late 1970s, a proposal which started one of the most hyped debate on environmental debates and both local environmental organizations and prestigious international bodies such as the WWF stood up against it. Finally, the area was declared a National Park in 1980. Probably India's last substantial stretch of tropical evergreen forest, it is home to various species of wildlife such as elephants, tigers, wild dogs, Nilgiri leaf monkeys, Jerdon's palm civets, Nilgiri martens, flying squirrels, lion-tailed macaques and even tahr and gaur along with almost 120 species of avian fauna sighted within the including Nilgiri woodpigeon.
Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary (Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary)
One of the most prominent bird sanctuaries of South India, it has been established recently and stretches across 25 sq km sanctuary between the tributaries of the River Periyar. Both native and migratory water birds including the Malabar grey hornbill, the Great Indian hornbill, the heron egret, the jungle mynah, the rose winged and blue winged parakeet, and the grey jungle fowl can be seen here basking in the delights of its natural surroundings. One may even spot the rare Ceylon frog-mouth or the rose billed roller here while enjoying the boat cruise from Bhoothathankettu to Thattekkad or looking out of the room from the Hornbill Inspection Bungalow at Thattekkad
Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary
Adjacent to the Anamalai Wildlife Sanctuary of Tamil Nadu, this sanctuary sprawls across 285 sq km. It has three dams, namely, Parambikulam, Thunakadavu and Peruvaripallam dams and is home to one of the largest populations of gaurs (Indian bisons), besides tigers, leopards, elephants, sambars, tahrs, wild dogs, Indian muntjacs, spotted deers, jungle cats, bonnet macaques, lion-tailed macaques, Nilgiris and common langurs besides several other species of fauna along with about 148 bird species, including the great Indian hornbills and the extremely rare Ceylon frogmouths. One can also see crocodiles in its reservoirs and boating and cruising facilities are available on request.
Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary
Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 77 sq km in the Thodupuzha and Udumpanchola talukas of Idukki and occupies the forested area between the Cheruthoni and Periyar rivers. Suroounded by a panoramic lake on three sides, it is home to tropical evergreen and deciduous trees. Lying adjacent to the famed Idukki Arch Dam, one may enjoy the lovely boat rides here while viewing the elephants, bisons, sambars, wild dogs, jungle cats, tigers and wild boars along with numerous species of snakes including cobras, vipers, kraits and numerous non-poisonous varieties. The local avian fauna includes jungle fowls, mynas, laughing thrushes, black bulbuls, peafowls and woodpeckers. Its wildlife is very similar to that at Thekkady.
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
60 km from Munnar, with its unique thorny scrub forests and xerophyte species, Chinnar is one of the last shelters for the endangered giant grizzled squirrels, which are said to be less than 200, world over. Lying in the rain shadow area of the Western Ghats, Chinnar gets much less rain than Kerala's other wildlife sanctuaries. The extensive sandalwood forest nearby is an added attraction to the place and is an ideal place to watch herds of gaurs passing through the area.
Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary
The Aralam sanctuary, 35 km from Thalasserry, is spread over 55 sq km of forested highlands of the Western Ghats. Katti Betta is the highest peak of the region rising to a height of 1145 m above sea level. Covered with tropical and semi evergreen forests, the sanctuary is home to myriad of flora and fauna life endemic to the Western Ghats. Herds of deers, elephants, boars, bisons, leopards, jungle cats and various types of squirrels can be spotted here. There is a Central State Farm, a 3,060-hectare farm at the Aralam village nearby, which is one of the country's main production centres of hybrid coconut seeds.
Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary
50 km from Trivandrum, this sanctuary sprawls across 53 sq km of the Western Ghats. Set amidst hillocks, it houses forests and eucalyptus plantations along with elephants, sambars, leopards and the lion-tailed macaques.
Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary
The Neyyar reservoir extends for only 9.06 sq km and offers exceptional opportunities for boating. One can spot here Nilgiri langurs, tigers, leopards, wild dogs, sloth bears, jungle cats, sambars, elephants, gaurs, spotted deers and rare lion-tailed macaques. The Crocodile Breeding Centre is the main attraction here, set up here by the Government of India. The park houses reptiles like pythons, cobras and monitor lizards, a deer park, a lion safari park and well-maintained gardens. It also houses Agasthyakoodam hill, named after the legendary Indian sage Agasthya.
Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary
Spread across 12 sq km, this sanctuary lies in the catchment area of the Peechi and Vazhani dams in Thrissur District. The Peechi dam was built for irrigation purposes and its reservoir is an ideal place for boating. One may also spot a wild tusker on its densely forested banks along with peafowls and jungle fowls.
Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary
Chimmini's wildlife sanctuary was established in 1984 adjoining to the Peechi-Vazhani sanctuary. Its dense tropical forests shelter a variety of flora and fauna such as elephants, sambars, gaurs, Malabar squirrels and sloth bears. The dam across the river offers some breathtaking views, making it a favorite picnic spot.
Wynad Wildlife Sanctuary
15 km away from Sulthanbathery, it is also known as Muthanga Wild Life Sanctuary. The second largest sanctuary in the Kerala, it occupies an area of 344 sq km. Neighboring the Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary in Tamil Nadu and the Bandipur wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka, it boasts of elephants, spotted deers, gaurs, sambars and sloth bears along with a large avian and reptilian population. The best time to visit here is between June and October.
Shenduruny WildLife Sanctuary
Near to the Kallida Irrigation Project site, this 100 sq km park is a home to elephants, tigers, leopards, bears and lion-tailed macaques. Visitors often go to Tenmala, which is very near t this place to see the numerous tea and coffee estates of the region.