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Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary
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The Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, located in Kodagu district, was established in 1974 and consists of two reserve forests-Brahmagiri and Urty (KFD 1996). The sanctuary is marked by undulating terrain with several steep valleys and hillocks and covers an area of 181.29 sq km. It lies between the longitudes 11o55.8'48"E to 12o8'48.55"E and latitudes 75o44'13.31"N to 76o3'21.92"N and receives an annual rainfall of about 3,073 mm with mean annual rainfall of 2,500-6,000 mm (MoEF Report 2006). Elevation in the park ranges from 65-1,607 m above sea level with Brahmagiri peak on the southeastern boundary being the highest point.

Eight rivers and streams originate in this sanctuary, and flow into the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian sea. The rivers that flow towards the Arabian sea are Borapole, Segamanihole, Somahole, Miugorehole and Urtihole. Those that flow towards the Bay of Bengal are Laxmanthirtha, Ramthirtha and Kabini. The Borapole river runs westwards dividing the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary into the Urty and Brahmagiri Reserve Forests (MoEF Report 2006).

The vegetation types include evergreen and semi-evergreen forests mainly in the low-lying areas and shola grasslands in the higher elevations (Pascal et al. 1982). Tree species in the evergreen forests consist of Cinnamonum zeylanicum, Cedrea toona and Alstonia scholaris and species of Artocarpus and Knema. Besides these, other tree species like Callophyllum apetalum, Hydonocarpus laurifolia, Zanthoxylum rhetsa and Vitex altissima too can be found growing in large numbers (MoEF Report 2006). The semi-evergreen forests consist of tree species like Terminalia, Diospyros, Holigarna, Ficus and Albizia. The semi-evergreen forests also have a large number of bamboo with Bambusa species being the dominant one (MoEF Report 2006).

In the low elevation evergreen forests, the tree species seen are Dipterocarpus indicus-Kingiodendrum pinnatum-Humboldtia brunonis types. At medium elevation, evergreen tree species include Mesua ferrea-Palaquium ellipticum types. Like other protected areas in the Western Ghats, the secondary moist deciduous forests here too have Lagerstroemia microcarpa-Tectona grandis-Terminalia tomentosa species. The evergreen forests are marked by an absence of bamboos. However, cane (Dendrocalamus sp.) is predominant in the lower storey's. At higher altitudes the shola grasslands predominate (Pascal et al. 1982, MoEF Report 2006).

This sanctuary is rich in fauna. At least 30 mammals including four species of primates and about 240 species of birds are found here (MoEF Report 2006). The mammalian inhabitants of the sanctuary found here are the highly endangered lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus), Nilgiri langur (Trachypithecus johnii) besides the common langur (Semnopithecus entellus), bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata) and black-footed grey langur (Semnopithecus hypoleucos) (Groves 2001, Shivanand et al. 2004, MoEF Report 2006).

Endemic to the Western Ghats, the Nilgiri marten (Martes gwatkinsi) and the small Travancore flying squirrel (Petinomys fuscocapillus) are also found in the Brahmagiri forests. Tigers (Panthera tigris) and Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), key flagship species of the Western Ghats forests, occur here in significant numbers. Other mammals seen here include wild dog (Cuon alpinus), jungle cat (Felis chaus), Indian bison or gaur (Bos gaurus), sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) and wild pig (Sus scrofa). Deer species resident in this sanctuary include chital or spotted deer (Axis axis), mouse deer (Moschiola meminna) and Indian muntjak or barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak) (MoEF Report 2006, Shivanand 2004).

Twelve of the 16 bird species endemic to the Western Ghats live in this sanctuary including species like the blue-winged parakeet (Psittacula columboides) and small sunbird (Nectarinia minima).The 'Critically endangered' bird species like the Oriental white-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis) and globally 'Vulnerable' species like the white-bellied shortwing (Brachypeteres major) and the Nilgiri wood-pigeon (Columba elphinstonii) are recorded from this sanctuary. Among the 'Near threatened' species the red-headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvus) and broad-tailed grass warbler (Schoenicola platyura) are recorded from here (MoEF Report 2006, Shivanand 2004). This site lies in Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forest) and 12 of the 15 species listed under this biome are found here. These include Jerdon's nightjar (Caprimulgus atripennis), Ceylon frogmouth (Batrachostomus moniliger) and Malabar trogon (Harpactes fasciatus) (Islam and Rahmani 2004).

Among reptiles the draco or gliding lizard (Draco dussumieri), king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), bamboo pit viper (Trimeresurus gramineus) and Malabar torrent toad (Ansonia oronata), an endangered amphibian, endemic to the Western Ghats have been recorded (Shivanand 2004, Lal et al. 1994).

The sanctuary is bordered by agricultural villages to the west and, coffee and cardamom plantations to the east (MoEF Report 2006). A serious threat to the sanctuary's flora is the collection of minor forest produce and use of forest land for grazing. Invasive species like Eupatorium, Chromolaena odorata and Lantana camara have affected the floral biodiversity of the sanctuary. At the higher altitudes, the risk of forest fires in the grasslands close to the shola forests are a major threat to the destruction of forests. Other disturbances to this sanctuary include poaching, encroachments by coffee estates, firewood collection and hydroelectric projects (Lal et al. 1994, Shivanand et al. 2004, MoEF Report 2006).


Groves, C. 2001. Primate taxonomy. Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington DC, USA.

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. 1133 pp.

Karnataka Forest Department (KFD). 1996. Management Plan for Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary: 2005-2010 Karnataka Forest Department, Wildlife Sub-division, Madikeri, India.

Kazmierczak, K. 2000. A field guide to the birds of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistn, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and the Maldives. OM Book Service, New Delhi, India. 352 pp.

Lal, R, Kothari., A., Pande, P and Singh, S (eds) .1994. Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary. In: Directory of national parks and sanctuaries in Karnataka: Management status and profiles. Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi, India. pp 89-91.

Menon, V. 2003. A field guide to Indian mammals. DK (India) Pvt Ltd and Penguin Book India (P) Ltd. 201 pp.

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

Pascal, J.P., Shyam Sundar, S and Meher-Homji, V.M. 1982. Forest map of South India: Mercara-Mysore. French Institute, Pondicherry, India.

Shivanand, T., Sivaprakash, A and Narasimhan, S.V. 2004. Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary . In: Important Bird Areas in India: Priority sites for conservation (Islam, M. Z and Rahmani, A. R).Indian Bird Conservation Network: Bombay Natural History Society and Birdlife International, UK. pp 551-552.

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