WAYANAD WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
If Kerala is ‘God’s Country’, this must be his garden of Eden. Part of a remote forest reserve that spills over into national parks in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Wayanad lies cocooned in the hills of the Western Ghats. Famed among Keralites for its jaw-dropping beauty, the landscape is a green medley of rice paddies, untouched forests, spice plantations and more rice paddies (the name translates to ‘country of paddy fields’). A convenient stopover point between Bengaluru or Mysore and Kochi, the region gets surprisingly few visitors, though it’s one of the few places you’re almost guaranteed to spot wild elephants. Other wildlife that roam the forests here include sambar and spotted dear, Indian bison, langur monkeys and, drum roll, occasionally tigers.
Established in 1973, the sanctuary is now an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. It’s bounded by protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka in the northeast, and on the southeast by Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu.It is part of the Wayanad plateau and the vegetation is predominantly of the south Indian moist deciduous teak forests. Also, the sanctuary has pastures of the west-coast semi-evergreen trees. The wildlife sanctuary comes under Protect Elephant and one can spot herd of elephants roaming in the area.
Elephant rides are arranged by the Forest Department,Kerala. Discovering and observing the wildlife while being atop an elephant is an enthralling and unforgettable experience.It is spread over 344 km² and is about 16 km east of Sultan Battery, the nearest large town.
Wayanad district has the largest population of aborigine people in Kerala. The native aadivasis mainly consist of various sects like Paniyas, Kuruma s, Adiyar s, Kurichya s, Oorali s, Kattunaikkan s etc. Comprising an area of 2126 km2, Wayanad has a powerful history. Relicts and edicts found in various parts of Wayanad speak of an importatnt prehistoric era. Historians are of the view that organised human life existed in these parts, at least ten centuries before Christ.
The sanctuary is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The Western Ghats, Nilgiri Sub-Cluster (6,000+ km²), including all of the sanctuary, is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site. Formed in the year 1973 and was brought under the Project Elephant in the year 1991-92.
This sanctuary occupies an area of 345 km2. Waynad Wildlife Sanctuary is the second largest one in the state of Kerala. The sanctuary is separated into two disconnected parts known as the Upper Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in the north and Lower Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in the south. The area in between the two parts was originally a forest region, though it is now occupied majorly by plantations.
Flora and fauna
The flora of Wayanad are characteristic of the Western Ghats and the plantation crops grown in the cool climate. A major portion of the district is covered by coffee. Trees of the wild type like rose-wood, anjili (Artocarpus), mullumurikku (Erthrina), several species of caussia and many other non-descrip varieties are still preserved here and there, to give shade to the coffee plants. These trees give a dembalance of wilderness to the landscape of Wayanad.
In a majority of coffee plantations, the age-old species are replaced by the silver-oak which is suited to the cold climate. This tree grows quickly and its cultivation is widespread among coffee plantations for shade and for giving support to pepper. It is used for the plywood industry and thus is economical to the farmers. Eucalyptus grandis, a shorter variety of eucalyptus, whose fragrant smell suffuses the very air around it, is cultivated on a large scale in centain parts of the district. Eucalyptus oil is extracted on commercial basis from its leaves. Of the 20,864 hectares of reserve forest, the major portion is teak plantation. Arecanut palms and jack trees are also grown here.
Flora: Moist deciduous forest consists of maruthi, karimaruthi, rosewood, venteak, vengal, chadachi, mazhukanjiram, bamboos, more, while the semi-evergreen patches comprises veteria indica., lagerstroemia, lanceolata, termianalia paniculata.
Fauna: Elephants, tigers, panthers, jungle cats, civet cats, monkeys, wild dogs, bisons, deer, bears, monitor lizards and a variety of snakes are seen.
Avian-Fauna: Peacocks, babblers, cuckoos, owls, woodpeckers, jungle fowls are a few of the various types of birds seen here.
Wayanad climate is salubrious. Average rain fall in this district is 2322 m.m. Annual rain fall in these high rain fall areas ranges from 3,000 to 4,000m.m. High velocity winds are common during the south west monsoon and dry winds blow in March–April. High altitude regions experience severe cold. This place experiences a high relative humidity which goes even up to 95 per cent during the south west monsoon period. Generally, the year is classified into four seasons, namely, cold weather, hot weather, south west monsoon and north east monsoon. The dale, ‘Lakkidi’, nestled among the hills of Vythiri taluk has the highest average rainfall in Kerala.
How to reach there
|Location: The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is located 16 km east of Sulthan Bathery in the state of Kerala.|
|Nearest Airports||: Kozhikode – CCJ – airport – 140 km.|
|: Mysore airport at Nanjangud (76 km) is nearing completion|
|Nearest Rail Station||: Nanjangud – 76 km (only passenger trains from Mysore)|
|: Kozhikode – CLT – 105 km|
|: Mysore – MYS – 99 km|
|Permitting Authority||: Wildlife Warden, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Sulthan Bathery|
|Best Time to Visit||: Since the temperatures rises to 35 °C in summers and during monsoon season Wayanad receives good quantities of rain, therefore the best time to visit Wayanad is between the months of October and February.|
|Route||: The headquarters of the sanctuary is in Kalpetta, which is well connected to other major cities of Kerala. There are regular buses from Calicut to Kalpetta.|