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Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary: A beautiful biodiversity hotspot

Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Bengaluru, Jan 09 (UiTV) -The Neyyar wildlife sanctuary extends to an area of 128 square kilometers. The river Neyyar originates from the Agasthyamalas and its water is found in the purest form. The area of Neyyar reservoir was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1958 for the conservation and management of pristine evergreen forests and their rich wildlife. The terrain ranges at an elevation from 100 to 1868 meters. Agasthyarkoodam(1868 m), Athirumala(1594 m), and Varayattumudi(1420 m) are some important peaks of the sanctuary.

Being a part of the Western Ghats, it is one of the 34 biodiversities hotspots in the world. The forest is rich in species of flora and fauna. The sanctuary also forms the core area of Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve.

Forest types:

The sanctuary represents a remarkable diversity in vegetation due to the varied climatic and topographic conditions. The different forest types found in the sanctuary are Southern hilltop tropical evergreen forests, west coast tropical evergreen forests, pioneer euphorbiaceous scrub, moist bamboo brakes, southern secondary moist mixed deciduous forest, myristica swamp forests, sub-montane hill valley swamp forests, riparian forests, grasslands, southern subtropical hill forest, ochladra reed brakes and, bentickia condapana brakes.

The Neyyar wildlife sanctuary offers various eco-tourism activities that include crocodile park, lion safari park, deer rehabilitation center, boating, and trekking. The visitors are allowed for a boat ride through the reservoir and the waterfall at Meenmutty.

About Flora and Fauna:

Being a part of Western Ghats, the sanctuary is rich in flora and fauna. There are around 1000 different plant species in the sanctuary. The importance of the sanctuary can be concluded from the fact that about 12% of the identified plants are endemic to the region and many of which are endangered. The sanctuary is also a home for about 125 different species of orchids. The area has also recorded a group of endangered plants like Bentickia condapana, Eugenia floccose, Eugenis discifera, Ardisia missionis, Janakia arayalpatra, Semecarpus auriculata, Paphiopedilum druryi, Chiloschista glandulosa.

The sanctuary is well known for a home for mammals, 36 different species of mammals are found, most of them are endemic which include Tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Langur, and Nilgiri Tahr. Other mammals found here are elephant, gaur, sambar deer, barking deer, mouse deer, dhole, sloth bear, leopard, etc. Tigers have also their presence in the forest, although very less in number. The sanctuary is further home to 229 species of birds, 219 species of butterflies, 41 species of amphibians, 43 species of reptiles, and 28 species of fishes.

Location:

The sanctuary is located in the Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala state. It is surrounded by the Agasthyavanam Biological Park and Peppara Wildlife sanctuary in the north, private lands on the south and west, and Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve of Tamil Nadu in the east.

Climate and Locals:

The climate here is moderately hot and humid with temperatures ranging from around 20’ C to 35’ C. The sanctuary receives an annual rainfall ranging between 2800 mm to 3000 mm from the southwest and northeast monsoons.

Around 1600 people belonging to the ‘Kani Tribe’ inhibit in overall 18 different settlements. They are known for their knowledge of traditional medicines and expertise in making articles from reeds and rattans.

Best time to visit:

September to February is the most appropriate month to visit the sanctuary.

Activities:

Visitors can spend their time in many activities offered by the sanctuary mentioned below:

  • Boat Safari - Boating with visiting of lion park, crocodile rehabilitation center, deer rehabilitation center. Approx duration of 2 hours.
  • Bus Safari - Visiting lion safari only by bus. Approx duration of 45 minutes.
  • Agasthya Ecotourism Center
  • Boat Jumbo Safari - Boat safari and visiting ERC by speed boat. Approx duration of 2 hours.
  • Bus Jumbo Safari - Bus safari with visiting crocodile rehabilitation center, deer rehabilitation center, and elephant rehabilitation center. Approx duration of 2 hours.
  • Kombai Cruise
  • Kottamanpuram Cruise
  • Rowing in the lake
  • Rowing and Trekking - Boating by rowing boat and trekking in Vettimurichakone island. Approx duration of 3 hours.
  • Meenmutty Trekking - Combined with boating up to Kombai and trekking to Meenmutty. Approx duration of 8 hours.
  • Meenmutty Camp - Trekking combined with boating up to Kombai and one night stay. Approx duration of 26 hours.
  • Kombai Camp - Trekking combined with boating up to Kombai and one night stay. Approx duration of 26 hours.

How to Reach?

The sanctuary is 32 km away from the Thiruvananthapuram district. The nearest railway station and airport are at Thiruvananthapuram. Public transport buses operate frequently from Thiruvananthapuram to the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary.

By Shashikant Chaurasia