Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
|Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is made up of two discontinuous pockets – Muthanga and Tholpetty. While Muthanga is situated to the south of Wayanad, about 18 km from Sulthan Bathery, Tholpetty is located towards the north of the district adjacent to Thirunelli. Both these pockets together cover an area of 344.44 sq km and are known for their rugged wild charm.
Cocooned in the Nilgiri Biosphere, Muthanga lies adjacent to Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka and Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. It also borders Sulthan Bathery and Kurichiat Ranges within Kerala and is known for its rich biodiversity. Tholpetty also lies adjacent to Nagarhole Range of Karnataka.
History and general info
The area was declared a sanctuary in 1973. The deep forests of this area had provided shelter for Pazhassi Raja during his rebellion against the British force. The sanctuary is part of Project Elephant and if you travel through the route, you can observe herds of elephants roaming freely across the various ranges and sometimes to the national parks in the adjacent states too.
Prior permission is needed to visit the place and the visitors are restricted to the outer zone of the sanctuary. Only researchers and wardens are allowed to go to the inner zone of the sanctuary which is about 25 km wide.
Topography and climate
Undulating hills and thick greenery are characteristics of the wildlife sanctuary of Wayanad. The highest peak is Karottimala, which is situated about 3800 ft above MSL. There are other peaks which lie at an altitude of 2100 to 2600 ft. The elevated landscape ensures a cool climate and the visitors can enjoy a serene cool atmosphere with temperature falling up to 13 degree Celsius during winter and rising up to 32 degree Celsius during summer. A good rainfall of about 2200 mm is experienced by the area and usually heavy rainfalls occur from June to August.
Forest types and other flora
While you travel through the roads leading to Muthanga or Tholpetty, you will get a glimpse of the rich enchanting flora that the forests harbour. The sides of the roads are thick and green with various kinds of plants which constitute bamboo trees, long spiky bushes of ginger etc. You can also observe paddy fields on the way.
Typical moist and dry deciduous forest types cover most of the area of the sanctuary while the visitors can also see a few patches of semi evergreen forests. Bamboo groves intervened with moist deciduous forests is another characteristic of the sanctuary.
About one third of the sanctuary is covered by plantations of teak, rosewood, eucalyptus and silver oak. Marshy lands also mark their presence in the sanctuary. The place also harbours rich flora and a scientific conservation is followed to keep the rare plants with due care. Among the dry and moist deciduous elements of Wayanad, Careya arborea (Pezhu), Dalbergia latifolia (Rosewood), Terminatia chebula (Kadukka), Kydia calycina (Vellachadachi), Anogeissus latifolia (Axle wood) and Stereospermum colias (Padiri) are the dominant tree species.
Ground flora, shrubs and creepers too can be seen here. Shrubs such as Helicters isora, Randia ulginosa and herbs like Ageratum conizioides, Rauvolfia, sida cordifolia, and many others have also been found here. Woody climbers like Entada scandens and Calycopteries floribunda too grow abundantly in the forests of Wayanad.
The sanctuary is home for a variety of animals and a casual observation of the jungle life while you travel through the way, will reveal to you this fact. You can spot herds of elephants and deer crossing the road, or frolicking in the fringes of forests.
The presence of big cats, tiger, panther etc. has also been noted in this area. Langurs, bonnet macaques, bison, monkeys, sambar, Malabar squirrel and bear too can be spotted. Diverse and bustling animal life of the region includes a variety of other animals too including the rarest Slender Loris.
The variety of reptiles seen in Wayanad sanctuary includes Monitor lizard and various kinds of snakes such as golden tree snake, coral snake, green whip snake and pit vipers. The other fauna of the region include crocodiles, a type of gecko called termite hill gecko, chameleon, flying lizard, monitor lizard, skinks, and flap shell turtles.
About 216 species of birds like peacock, owl, babbler, black woodpecker, golden backed three- toed wood pecker, cuckoo and jungle fowl are found in the area. Malabar whistling thrush, Malabar trogon shama, painted bush quail, golden oriole, peacock, paradise flycatcher, Malabar grey hornbill, pariah kite, crested honey buzzard and crested serpent eagle too are seen here. A rare blue bearded bee-eater (Nectyronis othertoni), has been sighted in Wayanad. It is the largest bee-eater in the world with a pale blue forehead and a "beard". The bird has other characteristics such as green colour on the upper parts of the head, belly adorned with soft streaks, square-ended long tail with yellow feathers below, de-curved slender black bill, short wings etc. Its call is audible from a good distance.
The amphibians found in the area belong to about 30 species and they include ornate microhylid, red microhylid, Ceylon kaliula, triangle-spotted Ramnella etc. Bi-coloured frog, bronze frog and Malabar gliding frog too can be spotted here.
The streams and rivers across the sanctuary hold large fish varieties which include Wayanad barb (Puntius wynaadensis), Malabar catopra (Pristoleptis marginata), korhi barb (P. micropogon), snake heads (Chann asp.) etc. Ariza labeo (Labeo ariza), common rasbora (Rasbora daniconius), Wayanad mystus (Mystus montanus) and giantdanio (Danio aequipinnatus) too can be found.