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 nearest railway station in Kerala is Aluva (120 Km away from Munnar) and in Tamil Nadu is Coimbatore (165 Km)


History

During the colonial days the  area was maintained as a hunting and fishing preserve. The responsibility for the management and protection of the area was vested with the High Range Game Preservation Association, a pioneer non-governmental organization in this area, which was formed in 1928.  The game included Nilgiri tahr, sambar, barking deer, gaur, wild pig, leopard and tiger. The area also offered excellent opportunity for angling of rainbow trout (Salmo gairdnerii) which was introduced from Scotland. The Muduvan tribals, known for theit tracking skills, were employed as game watchers. they are the original inhabitants of these hills.The area was taken over in 1971 by the Kerala Government and declared as a Sanctuary in 1975.  .(G.O No. 8907/FM/375/AD dated 31-03-1975).  It was upgraded to a national park in 1978in recognition of it's unique ecological values(G.O (MS) 142/78 dated 19-05-1978).Over the years, the management of the Company changed hands and with the increase in awareness, the game association has redefined its objectives to become High Range Wildlife and Environmental Preservation Association (HRWEPA). The Association now joins hands with the Forest Department in managing the Park.

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

 

Website design by WebDesignCochin.in