Periyar Tiger Reserve turns 75

Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) lies in the Western Ghats in the Idukki District of the Indian state of Kerala. The terrain of the Reserve is undulating and the drainage is dendrite. The northeastern boundary of the Reserve is a ridge, which also forms boundary between the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu for 90 km. The Periyar Lake, with an area of 26 sq. km., is the nucleus of the Tiger Reserve. Due to the diverticular shape, it caters to a much more extensive area of forest than would be possible if it was merely a compact lake. The main prey base of the tiger is sambar. The other prey animals of the tiger are the Indian bison and wild boar. Cattle in the fringe area also forms an important prey base.

In the present day Reserve area, a dam was constructed across the Periyar river in 1895 to provide irrigation facilities in Tamil Nadu. The forest around the reservoir, the Periyar Lake, was declared as reserve forest known as Periyar Lake Reserve in 1899. This area was declared as Nellikkampetty Sanctuary (600 sq. km.) in 1934. The Sanctuary was extended to 777 sq. km. in 1950 and renamed as Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. It was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978. The Reserve is contiguous with Ranni extending up to Achancovil. The core area of the Reserve, 350 sq. km. was declared a National Park in 1982.

Mangaladevi – Kannagi Temple falls on Northern boundary of the Reserve.

The presence of wild animals in Thekkady was noticed by the authorities during the construction of Mullaperiyar Dam in 1895 and the ‘Periyar Lake Reserve’ was formed incorporating the adjoining areas near the reservoir with Peerumade as its headquarters.

Project Elephant: More areas were added to the sanctualry and in 1978, it was declared as the tenth tiger reserve in the country. Withe the 1982 declaration of assigning it a national sanctuary status, PTR was included in the ‘Project Elephant’ scheme announced by the Centre. The reserve has a 375 area of core forest and 96 kilometre border with Tamil Nadu.

According to official figures, PTR has 62 species of endangered mammals, 320 species of birds, 45 species of reptiles and 160 butterfly varieties. According to the wildlife census that the number of elephants in PTR is between 900 and1,000 and tigers between 35 to 40. It has a rich flora and fauna and accommodates 350 varieties of medicinal plants.

Forest Types
West Coast Tropical Evergreen Forests - 1 A/C4
West Coast Semi Evergreen Forests - 2 A/C2
Moist Deciduous Forest -3 A/C1a
Southern Montane Wet Grassland -11 A/C1/DS2

Eucalyptus Plantations
Main Flora
So far, 1,963 species of flowering plants belonging to 823 genera and 159 families have been documented by Dr. N. Sasidharan, Kerala Forest Research Institute and Kerala Forest Department (1998). Some important species are Hopea parviflora, Dipterocarpus indicus, Palaquium elliptium, Veteria indica and Myristica dactyloides.

Main Fauna
In Periyar Tiger Reserve 49 species of mammals, 265 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles, 12 species of amphibians, 35 species of fishes and 160 species of butterflies have been identified so far. Some important mammals are tiger, leopard, elephant, gaur, sambar, wild dog, barking deer, lion tailed macaque, Nilgiri langur and Nilgiri tahr.

The repair of existing camping sheds at Mavady and Mlappara with trenches was completed for ensuring staff presence at these key points. Raincoats, gumboots and hunter shoes were provided to the field staff. Protection/Patrolling Squads: In addition to regular staff, there is a special flying squad headed by a Range Officer for protection and patrolling. Village Forest Protection Committees: Twenty-two Eco-development Committees constituted in the fringe area are helpful in forest protection.

India Eco-development Project is being implemented at the Reserve since 1997. Habitat consolidation was done by acquiring three private estates (53.8 ha) during 1982. Effective fire-protection measures have promoted natural regeneration in grasslands. Planting of exotic species, such as eucalyptus in Periyar Tiger Reserve has been discontinued and action initiated to convert the present 55 sq. km. eucalyptus area into natural forest. The water sources have been judiciously developed. Some of the recent inputs have been enumerated below:

Some time ago, 50 newly recruited Forest Guards were posted in the Reserve after imparting them one-month training in Wildlife Management. Through awareness/eco-development approach, the local people have been involved in patrolling, information sharing and arrest of criminals indulging in illicit activities. Ten wireless stations are being maintained. About sixty watchers are engaged to compensate the shortage of regular protection staff. Frequent camping and combing operations with sufficient staff and watchers are being carried out. Special combing operations to detect illegal ganja cultivation are being carried out. Inspection Path Maintenance, vista-line clearance, roadside clearance and inter-state boundary clearance are being done for strengthening the perambulation. Patrolling camps with trenches were constructed at Brandipara, Uppermanalar and Eravingalar. Village Eco-development Programme Improved Protected Area Management. Impact monitoring and research, and Environmental education and awareness campaigns.

Effort is being made to minimize the biotic pressures resulting from factors such as grazing, firewood collection, non-timber forest produce collection, fishing and fire, by providing alternative income generation activities and bringing efficiency in utilization of natural resources. Under the India Eco-development Project, micro-plans have been prepared for the fringe villages.

Education and Awareness: Nature Camps are conducted in Periyar Tiger Reserve for students and members of various Nature Clubs.

The existing Vandiperiyar-Moozhiyar-Kakki Road, which passes through the Reserve, is being handed over to the Public Works Department.

Overlapping Jurisdiction: Overlapping jurisdiction of Grassland Afforestation Division in part of the Reserve.

Dual Control Over Tourism: Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) is running three luxury hotels and five boats as an independent agency.

General Information
Area: 777 sq. km.
Core: 350 sq. km.
Buffer: 427 sq. km.
Longitude: 76°57’ and 77°25’ E
Latitude: 9°16’ and 9°36’ N
Altitude: 100m. to 2016 m. above msl.
Rainfall: 2500 mm.
Temperature: Minimum: 15°C
Maximum: 31°C

Monsoon: Southwest and Northeast monsoon with maximum rainfall in July and minimum in January.
Summer: April-May
Winter: December-January

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