Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is an animal sanctuary in Wayanad, Kerala, India. It has an extent of 344.44 km2 with four ranges namely Sulthan Bathery, Muthanga, Kurichiat and Tholpetty. A variety of large wild animals such as Indian bison, elephant, deer and tiger are found there. There are also quite a few unusual birds in the sanctuary. In particular, peafowl tend to be very common in the area. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is the second largest wildlife sanctuary in Kerala. It is bestowed with lush green forests and rich wildlife.This wildlife area houses some of the rare and endangered species of both flora and fauna.

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. Established in 1973, the sanctuary is now an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. It is bounded by protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka in the northeast, and on the southeast by Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu.

The dense forests of this area had provided shelter for Pazhassi Raja during his fight against the British Empire. The sanctuary is part of Project Elephant and if you travel 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.

Climate and Topography

Undulating hills and thick greenery are characteristics of the wildlife sanctuary. The highest peak is Karottimala, which is situated about 3800 feet above sea level. There are other peaks which lie at an altitude of 2100 to 2600 feet. The elevated landscape ensures a cool climate and the visitors can enjoy a serene cool atmosphere with the temperature falling up to 13 degree Celsius during winter and rising up to 32 degree Celsius during summer. A good rainfall of about 2200 millimeter 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 harbor. 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. 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.

Fauna

The sanctuary is home to 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 woodpecker, 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.

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.

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