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Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary
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Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary lies just north of Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala's Thiruvanathapuram district. Located between the latitudes of 8o34'30.72"N and 8o41'11.36"N and the longitudes of 77o6'55.8"E and 77o14'8.52"E, it covers a total area of 53 sq km and forms an integral part of the 1,262 sq km block of contiguous protected forest in the Agastyamalai hills of the Western Ghats. The sanctuary primarily consists of the watershed of the Karamana river upstream of the Peppara dam at Aruvikkara. Altitude varies between 82-1,594 m and annual average precipitation is between 1,800 and 3,000 mm. Since the area receives precipitation from both the southwest and northeast monsoons, the dry season is only about two months long (SRTM 2003, Krishnaswamy et al. in prep, MoEF 2006).

The high rainfall and variation in altitude create an environment rich in plant diversity and endemism. The main vegetation types found here are-low elevation evergreen forests (Dipterocarpus indicus-Dipterocarpus bourdilloni-Strombosia ceylanica type), medium elevation evergreen forests (Cullenia exarillata-Mesua ferrea-Palaquium ellipticum-Gluta travancorica type), Ochlandra reeds, Myristica swamps and secondary moist deciduous forests (Lagerstroemia microcarpa-Tectona grandis-Dillenia pentagyna type) (Ramesh et al. 1997). In the evergreen forests the tree canopy can attain heights of over 30 m. The understorey is dominated by cane, palm and fern species. Orchids and other epiphytes cloak tree branches (Islam and Rahmani 2004). At least 1,106 species of flowering plants have been reported from the Neyyar and Peppara Wildlife Sanctuaries, with 26% (286 species) endemic to the Western Ghats and 47 species endemic to the Agasthyamalai region. Several of these plants are found in only a few localities, such as around the Chemmunji peak (MoEF 2006). Peppara is one of the seven Medicinal Plant Conservation Areas in Kerala. Arogyapacha (Trichopus zeylanicus) a commercially valuable medicinal plant is found in Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary and has long been used by the Kani tribals for its medicinal properties.

Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary is designated as an Important Bird Area owing to the presence of two globally threatened species viz. Nilgiri wood-pigeon (Columba elphinstonii) and white-bellied shortwing (Brachypteryx major) and three of the 16 Western Ghats endemic bird species (Islam and Rahmani 2004). However, no systematic survey of birds has been done in this sanctuary yet and therefore the total numbers of species present and their identities are not known (Islam and Rahmani 2004). Some of the species that have been recorded here are-Malabar grey hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) and Malabar trogon (Harpactes fasciatus) (Islam and Rahmani 2004).

The faunal diversity of Peppara also includes a high proportion of globally threatened endemic mammals such as the Nilgiri marten (Martes gwatkinsi), Nilgiri langur (Trachypithecus johnii), lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus), slender loris (Loris lydekkerianus) and Malabar giant squirrel (Ratufa indica). Other mammalian species of national and global conservation importance include the tiger (Panthera tigris), sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), wild dog (Cuon alpinus) and Asian elephant (Elephas maximus).

There are 13 Kani settlements within the sanctuary (Islam and Rahmani 2004). Some of these settlements have already been relocated once due to the establishment of the Peppara dam. The Kani here practice small-scale agriculture; some have rubber plantations. They also work as labour in plantations outside the sanctuary and collect non-timber forest products (NTFP) for a living. Fuelwood extraction, NTFP collection and poaching seem to be the major threats to these forests. People from neighboring villages also enter the sanctuary to collect NTFPs, especially ochlandra reeds. Degradation from illegal felling and other impacts from the adjoining failed Bonnecaud tea estate, as well as the extensive plantation of eucalyptus along the boundary of the wildlife sanctuary are other threats to the sanctuary.


Islam, M. Z. and Rahmani, A. R. 2004. Important bird areas in India: priority sites for conservation. Indian Bird Conservation Network: Bombay Natural History Society and Birdlife International, UK.

Krishnaswamy, J., Mehta, V., Kiran MC. Interpolation of annual rainfall data of Western Ghats using ordinary kriging.(in prep.)

MoEF. 2006. India's Tentative List of Natural Heritage Properties to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. UNESCO, Paris, France.

Ramesh, B.R., Franceschi, D. and Pascal, J.P. 1997. Forest map of South India: Thirvananthapuram-Tirunelveli. French Institute, Pondicherry, India.

SRTM 2003. Shuttle Radar Topography Mission Digital Elevation Data, 3 ArcSecond,

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