Mudumalai National Park ‘ Tamil Nadu‘
The Mudumalai National Park or Wildlife Sanctuary resides on the northwestern side of the Nilgiri Hills (Blue Mountains), in Nilgiri District, about 150 km north-west of Coimbatore city in Kongu Nadu region of Tamil Nadu. By sharing its boundaries with the states of Karnataka and Kerala, the sanctuary is divided into 5 ranges – Masinagudi, Thepakadu, Mudumalai, Kargudi and Nellakota. The park is located along the Ooty-Mysuru route and can be entered from both cities. One of the highlights of the park is its Elephant Safari, the best way to see the inhabitants of more than 500 species of animals, birds, reptiles and even more species of insects. Needless to say the place is breathtaking and captivating for anyone who appreciates nature.
Elephant Feeding Camp
This is the place where one can interact with elephants and see how they are fed. The elephants are engaged mainly for eco-tourism, patrolling for anti poaching operations, to control man-elephant conflict outside the sanctuary or other areas and as a conservation and training centre for elephants which can be visited by the public. Called kumki elephants, they are looked after at the camp. Every morning and evening, they are fed a diet of ragi and rice balls and cakes. The playful baby elephants are the main attraction of the camps.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: September to January
Bandipur National Park ‘Karnataka’
Located in Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka, this national park has an excellent variety of flora and fauna and is recognised as one of the Mega Biodiversity Areas in the country. The backwaters of the Kabini Reservoir in the park is home to a flock of large mammals. The diverse habitat consisting of open dry deciduous forests, scrub forests and tropical mixed deciduous forests support an enormous diversity of animal life. Tigers and elephants are the flagship attractions of this habitat. Since the viable population of these two species is indicative of any healthy ecosystem, these two are the umbrella species around which all conservation takes place to protect the biota that this ecosystem represents.
Healthy Tiger Population
The Bandipur Tiger Reserve, along with the nearby Nagarahole and Mudumalai forest terrain, is the primary tiger habitat in the Western Ghats region of India. According to statistics released by the Tiger Estimate 2010 survey done by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the tiger population here is around 534. Currently, this landscape complex holds close to 1/8th of the world’s tiger population (and 1/4th of India’s tiger population). This is an increase of 29.6% over the 2006 estimate of 412 tigers.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: October to March
Shamirpet Deer Park ‘Telangana’
Shamirpet Deer Park, located in Bolaram Cantonment of Hyderabad, is about 30kms away from the city and is well accessible by road (Hyderabad- Karimnagar Rajiv Rahadari). The park stretches over a vast area of 54 acres with deciduous forests giving shelter to a wide array of animals. Famous as the home to Blackbuck and Chital deer, several other species of deer can also be seen in their natural habitat. The serene Shamirpet lake and the thick vegetation around the park makes it a charming picnic spot. Towering trees, different hued flowers growing in the wild, a cobalt blue lake is what meets your eye once you enter the vicinity of Shamirpet Deer Park. The Shamirpet lake is an artificial water body, created to give a fresh lease of life to the area and its residing animals. Since its construction, birds and other wildlife have been frequenting this area during summer. As the name suggests, it’s a park for deer protection as their population in this region had been severely going down over the years due to rapid urbanisation. The national park was built during the rule of Nizam kings in the 20th century.
THINGS TO DO
A favourite of Hyderabad’s residents for weekend outings, the Shamirpet Deer Park also has a little play area for children with swings and a long winding path along the lake for adults to unwind and soak in nature’s beauty.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Throughout the Year
Silent Valley Park ‘Kerala’
The Silent Valley National Park in Kerala is located approximately 200km far from the district of Idukki in the Nilgiri Hills. Abode of the largest number of lion-tailed macaques in the country, an endangered species of primates, this rainforest area is also home to many other species of flora and fauna. The Silent Valley is virtually a botanist’s treasure-trove. It includes about a 1000 species of flowering plants, 107 species of orchids, 100 ferns and fern allies, 200 liverworts, 75 lichens and about 200 algae. Of these plants, a good majority is endemic to the Western Ghats.
The National Park is rich in faunal diversity and harbours 34 species of mammals, 292 species of birds, 31 species of reptiles, 22 species of amphibians, 13 species of fish, 500 species of butterflies and moths, besides a multitude of lower forms of animal life most of which are yet to be documented. Of the 128 species of butterflies identified in the valley, nine are exclusive to the Western Ghats.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: December to April
Words: Komal Mehta