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Home » Wildlife in South India » Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary - Kerala
Location : Kerala
Also Known as : Thekkady Wildlife Sanctuary
Main Species of animals found : Elephants, Tigers, Spotted Deer
Best Season : October to June
The sanctuary is spread across 777 sq km, of which 360 sq km is thick evergreen forest.
The sanctuary, declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978 under the Project Tiger scheme, attracts travellers from all over the world was created by the old Travancore State Government in 1934. The park encompasses a 26 sq. km. artificial lake, built by the British in 1895 to provide water to the temple city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
The sanctuary was designated a part of 'Project Tiger', in 1973, and offers a fairly good chance of seeing the majestic Indian Tiger in its natural habitat. The sanctuary is also acclaimed to be the best place in the world for studying all the aspects of elephantine life. There are about 750 elephants in the park but only 35 tigers and leopards are present here.
Besides tiger and elephant, the sanctuary is a natural habitat to wide variety of wildlife including bison, sambar, wild boar, spotted deer, leopards, jungle cats, rare species of Malabar flying squirrel, stripe necked mongoose, black Nilgiri langurs and monkeys etc. There are plenty of water fowl which perch on the dead trees in the lake. Woodland birds, owls and hornbills can also be seen in the forest.
A boat safari on the Periyar Lake - a nineteenth century reservoir around which the sanctuary is based - extends a life - time's chance to spot exotic wildlife in its natural habitat. Like the eccentric bathing habits of te wild elephants that come down to the lake. Squealing, swimming and spraying each other with mud.
Unmindful of eyes - both yours and your camera's - training on them. And herds of bisons ambling across one thick range of bush to another. Timing your trip in the evening raises the possibility of glimpsing the mouse deer, flying squirrels, wild boars and otters that populate these hills.
Periyar is one of the few Indian reserves which allows trekking. However, be guarded against leeches. Wearing insect repellant on socks over trousers is one stock measure against them.
FLORA & FAUNA
Trekking with a local guide familiarizes you to the rare birds, trees and flowers that are come across here. And also sets up your close encouonter with gaur, barking deer, porcupines, langurs and macaques. Only the most fortunate fo eventually sight a rare predator - the tiger, the panther or perhaps a pack of wild dogs. Though aquatic birds are relatively few here, the Indian darter and black - necked stork are common. However, the forest is home to an amazing variety of terrestrial birds such as the great Indian hornbill, the Brahmin kite, the little cormorant, the pied kingfisher and the golden oriole.
You can even set upon a walk through the bending lanes which wind through the plantations filled with the heady fragrance of the fresh spice. Black pepper, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon.
And an engaging visit to a tribal village deep inside the forest provides your close - quarter observance of the curious ways of neolithic life..
Picturesque Periyar National Park is also known for its scenic beauty and bracing climate. It is a pleasant escape from the rigours of day to day life. The boat cruise on the serene waters of the lake is an excellent way to watch the wildlife and the pristine beauty of the park.
In addition to elephant rides, cruises on the lake and treks to the ruined Mangala Devi temple - a beautiful old stone temple situated in the heart of the Thekkady forest, this sanctuary offers the unique opportunity to watch and photograph wild elephants at close quarters
BEST TIME WATCHING THE WILDLIFE
Season - October to May. The chances of viewing the wildlife are best during the hot months of March and April, as the waterholes in the forest dry up forcing the animals to come to the lake for a drink.
The entry point to the reserve is Thekkady, which is accessible by good roads from the airports of Madurai (145 kms.), Kochi (190 kms.) & Thiruvananthapuram (272 kms.). The nearest railhead is Kottayam (114 kms.).The nearest town is Kumily (4 kms.).
In Winter- Light woolen
In summer- Light tropical
Entry timings : 0600 -1800 Hrs.
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