Eravikulam National Park
Eravikulam National Park which has the highest density and largest surviving population of Nilgiri tahr is situated in the High Ranges (Kannan Devan Hills) of the Southern Western Ghats in the Devikolam Taluk of Idukki district, Kerala State between 10º 05' - 10º 20' N Latitude and 77º 0' - 77º 10' E Longitude.
Etymologically, Eravikulam denotes streams and pools
The Park is 97 sq. km. in extent, consisting mostly of high altitude grasslands that are interspersed with sholas. The main body of the National Park comprising of a high rolling plateau with a base elevation of about 2000 meters from mean sea level. The Park is of undulating terrain and the highest peak is Anamudi (2690 m). Three major types of plant communities are found in the Park-grasslands, shrub land and forests. The high plateau and the hills rising above it, are primarily covered by grasslands. Shrub lands are seen along the bases of the cliffs. Shola forests are located in the valleys and folds. Turner’s valley, which splits the Park roughly in half from northwest to southeast, is the deepest.
The park is accessible from Kochi (Kerala) and Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) airports, which are located at about 148 Km and 175 Km respectively.
Munnar is the nearest town (13km.), well connected by roads from
Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The main body of the National Park is a high rolling plateau with a base elevation of about 2000 mts. Most of the knolls and peaks rise 100-300 mts. above it with some mountains reaching altitudes of over 2500mts.
The highest peak is Anaimudi(2690mts). The vast grasslands interspread with sholas (patches of stunted evergreen forests) are the last remnats of the unique ecosystem that was once prevalant in the upper reaches of the Western Ghats. The park is criss-crossed by perennial streams that originate in the sholas.
The estimated population of Nilgiri tahr inside the park is about 760. Wild dog, leoperd and tiger are the main predators. Apart from tahr, other little known animals such as Nilgiri marten, small clawed otter, ruddy mongoose, and dusky striped squirrel are also found. Elephants make seasonal visits.
The climate is described as tropical montane. The Park experiences very heavy rainfall. It recieves its major precipitation during the south-west monsoons (June-August).
The average annual rainfall is about 3000mm. January-March are relatively dry months. In winter, the temprature goes down even below freezing point.
About 120 species of birds have been recorded which include endemics like black and ornage flycatcher, Nilgiri pipit, Nilgiri wood pegeon, white bellied shortwing, Nilgiri verditer flycatcher and Kerala laughing thrush. Endemics confined to the shola-grass land ecosystem like the red disk bushbrown and Palni fourwing are among the 100 odd butterflies listed inside the park.
The shola-grassland ecosystem is a strange admixture of temprature and tropical qualities due to the combined effects of altitude as well as latitude. It is exceptionally rich in orchids and balsams. The spectacular mass flowering of the shrub Neelakurunji (Strobilanthes kunthiana) takes place in the grasslands in cycles of the 12yrs.
A treasure trove of rare plants
For more information on Eravikulam National Park log on to www.eravikulam.org