Welcome to Tamil Nadu! A state with diverse flora, fauna, mountains, forests and coastal lines. The Tamil literature itself classifies the landscapes of Tamil Nadu into five types.
- Kurinji – Mountains
- Mullai – Forests
- Marudham – Agriculture fields
- Neidhal – Coastal areas
- Paalai – Deserts
The second type Mullai is mentioned in many Tamil literary works and it is also an integral landscape that supports wildlife. Talking about forests, they deserve special care since their destruction can be highly disruptive. There are many big and small forest areas in Tamil Nadu. A few of them are designated to protect tigers.
1. Mudumalai national park
Mudumalai national park is located in the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu. It is well known for protection of tigers and elephants. Started in 1940, this forest reserve spans around 320 square kilometers and divided into five divisions. The forest area touches the borders of Kerala and Karnataka. The mudumalai elephant camp is very famous, as elephants from all over the state are brought here frequently to let them live in their natural habitat for a while.
2. Aanaimalai tiger reserve
The Aanaimalai reserve is located in Valparai and Pollachi region of Coimbatore district. Since this forest is situated in the Aanaimalai hills, it was previously called as Aanaimalai wildlife sanctuary. It was also known as Indra Gandhi wildlife sanctuary. Total area of this forest is 1480 sq km. In 2007, in an effort to protect tiger species, this sanctuary became a tiger reserve.
Main tourist attraction of this place is “topslip”. There are cottages and view points for tourists to spend time amidst thick green fields. They provide a wonderful atmosphere and options for safari is also available at topslip. Tourists can enjoy exciting experiences of sighting wild animals at topslip.
3. Kalakkad mundanthurai tiger reserve
The Kalakkad mundanthurai wildlife sanctuary was created in 1988 by joining two separate wildlife sanctuaries – Kalakkad and Mundanthurai. It is formed by covering parts of Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts and spans around 895 sq kilometers. As like other reserve forests, this sanctuary is also committed to protect tigers under “project Tiger”.
It is the second largest wildlife sanctuary of Tamil Nadu, spread across the southern part of western ghats.
4. Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuary
Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuary is located in Erode district, and it is the largest forest range in Tamil Nadu. Spread over 1410 sq kilometers, this sanctuary is also committed to save tigers. It is the fourth tiger reserve declared in 2013, following the three other above mentioned reserves.
The Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuary is located in the western ghats, close to Tamil Nadu – Karnataka border. It acts as an important point for gene flow, as its flora and fauna easily migrate and populate around the other nearby forests of eastern ghats. The Sathyamangalam sanctuary is home to over 860 elephants which makes it the largest reserve for Asian elephants.
There are many more small forest covers in and around the western ghats and they all contribute significantly towards wildlife protection and ecosystem balance. Most of the thick forests are committed towards protecting tigers as their population was diminishing at an alarming rate. Due to such swift acts and actions, the Indian tiger, also called as Bengal tiger, is under special care.
Threat for wildlife arise due to urbanisation and deforestation. Humans extend their living circles by encroaching forests. This causes the forest lands to reduce into smaller blocks or fragments. This cuts the availability of prey and loss of habitat for wild fauna. On top of that, they are killed in the name of man-animal conflict. By spreading awareness and imposing legal acts, forest covers are now under protection, better than how it was few decades ago.