Jungle Lore Of Kerala- Eravikulam & Chinnar

Two sanctuaries, Eravikulam & Chinnar both are completely different for the visitor angle but clubbed together. While Eravikulam is contiguous with the ‘Mudis’ of Tamilnadu, Chinar is contiguous with the Indira Gandhi WLS of Tamilnadu, through Anamalai.  There is a discontinuity in many areas due to pressure on land from both Tamilnadu and Kerala.

 Eravikulam National park is on the way to Chinnar WLS from Munnar, the last refuge of the Nilgiri Tahr. Located at about  7000ft above sea level, 15kms from Munnar town situated on the Munnar-Udamalpettai on the SH-17-the whole drive to Rajamaly is scenic and takes you to the entrance of the famous  Eravikulam National Park. Leave your vehicles there and start walking a small gradient-keep an eye on both sides for the NilgiriTahr.

An estimated 750 numbers wild goats are living here though the tahr is a very shy animal-the one in the tourism zone is used to humans and is quite friendly. Those that are still found in other pockets, like higher reaches of parambikulam, Wayanad, sholas of Ooty, bolt at the sight of humans. These are endemic to the southern Western Ghats and are related to the Himalayan tahr-found in the Himalayas and some of their distant cousins-that live in Australia. Thus we are talking of something so exotic. The herd is controlled by a male called Saddle Back-by the silvery saddle on the back and is the one who mates. The male is bigger and bulkier than the female. The calving season is Feb and the park is closed during this period. Apart from the Tahr-the elusive Niligiri marten, Rudy’s mongoose is also found, the predators are wild dogs, leopards,s and a rare tiger. Elephants do visit the park on and off-just being an off-time visitor only. Around 100species of birds-like black & orange flycatcher, Nilgiri pit, paradise flycatchers, etc., besides plenty of orchids & lots of exotic butterflies. The famous Neelakurinji  (Phlebophyllum kunthianum)-is also found here. Thus the place has got exclusivity about it. There is no camping place here-obviously, due to the exclusive denizens that inhabit the place. One can be a daytime visitor from Munnar/and its surroundings or can visit the place from the Chinnar side also. By road Kochi-200kms (90 km from Munnar)  through Coimbatore-Pollachi-Chinnar-via Amaravathy dam you can reach Chinnar  WLS is probably one of the driest sanctuaries in Kerala (ins spite of its proximity to Munnar) , as this happens to be in the rain shadow area –with just 100mm of rains a year!!!. The majority of this is the scrub jungle and dominated by acacia species, yet there are vast patches of grasslands and some pockets that have good tree wealth –especially near the chinar rivers or nearby its tributaries, This is contiguous with Eravikulam-and Indiragandhi WLS of TN. One of the specialties of this jungle is the “GIANTGRIZZLED SQUIRREL”. The other animals include leopards, elephants, black panthers, and occasionally tigers are to be sighted here. Deerspecies, Spotted deer, Bison, (many have sighted white bison), and smaller ones like barking deer, and few sambars also thrive here. Even though there is no organized Safari done here small treks for  2hrs  to 1-day duration are done. You can use the services of the guides of the Ecodevelopment committee for the same. As we are at the end of Kerala-food choices are basic-with maximum good tea shops, to quench your thirsts and hunger-with small rural nick-nacks! There are few Tree huts inside the jungles along the riverside for you to stay-please note these are basic and have no power, yet you feel close to the jungle. The caretaker can get you some basic food after your trek through the jungle by nightfall!!- an experience!!

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