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Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary
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The Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple (BRT) Wildlife Sanctuary situated in Chamrajanagar district was set up in 1987 and occupies an area of 539.52 sq km. Named after the Biligirirangan hills, the BRT sanctuary forms an interesting link between the Eastern and Western Ghats. This sanctuary lies between the longitudes 11o43'11.6"E to 12o8'41.53"E and latitudes of 77o0'36.25"N to 77o15'44.24"N. The Biligirirangan hill peaks elevations ranges between 666-1,807 m with the highest being Kattari Betta at 1,800 m. Average annual rainfall in the region is 789 mm. The main source of water is the Swarnavati river and in addition there are 27 major perennial streams, 31 small lakes, 10 springs and eight artificial waterholes (Lal et al. 1994).

Forest types include scrub, dry and moist deciduous forests, evergreen forests, sholas and montane grasslands. Tree species found in the dry, deciduous forests of this sanctuary consist of Anogeissus latifolia, Chloroxylon swietenia, Albizia amara, Pterocarpus marsupium and Terminalia sp. to name a few. Other vegetation types in this forest include semi-evergreen forests and grasslands (Pascal et al. 1992).

Extensive research has been carried out on the biodiversity of the BRT Wildlife Sanctuary. This protected area is home to nearly 35 species of mammals. Species of deer found here are sambar (Cervus unicolor), chital or spotted deer (Axis axis), barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak) and the rare four-horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis). Other mammalian inhabitants are leopards (Panthera pardus), wild dogs (Cuon alpinus), sloth bears (Melursus ursinus) and red giant flying squirrels (Petaurista petaurista) (Aravind 2004, Lal et al. 1994).

As many as 245 species of birds have been spotted here including globally threatened ' Vulnerable' species like the Nilgiri wood-pigeon (Columba elphinstonii), pied tit (Parus nuchalis) (Ali and Ripley 1987) and the yellow-throated bulbul (Pycnonotus xantholaemus) (Karthikeyan et al. 1995). The two 'Critically endangered' vulture speices Oriental white-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis) and the long-billed vulture (Gyps indicus) have been recorded. Threatened wetland birds like painted storks (Mycteria leucocephala) and black-headed ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus) too can be seen here (Aravind 2004). Western Ghat endemics found in the sanctuary include white-bellied shortwing (Brachypteryx major), Wynaad laughingthrush (Garrulax delesseti) and broad-tailed grass warbler (Schoenicola platyura). Thirteen out of 15 Biome-10 species like the small green-billed Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus viridirostris), Malabar whistlingthrush (Myiophonus horsfieldii), dark-fronted babbler (Rhopocichla atriceps) and black-throated munia (Lonchura kelaarti) have been recorded till now (Islam and Rahmani 2004).

Nearly 22 species of reptiles, 150 species of butterflies and 48 species of ants have been recorded from this sanctuary. Reptiles seen include the common wolf snake (Lycodon aulicus), rat snake (Ptyas mucosus), Indian rock python (Python molurus) and olive keelback (Atretium schistosum) (Aravind 2004).

There are 27 villages in and around the sanctuary. For the soliga community living inside the wildlife sanctuary nature worship is a way of life. A study commissioned by the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment and carried out by The Energy Research Institute shows that despite being present in such large numbers, the tribal communities follow sustainable lifestyles that do not cause any harm to the sanctuary.

Major threats to this wildlife reserve include quarrying, poaching, illegal logging, overgrazing by livestock and firewood collection. Other threats to the biodiversity come from coffee plantations, colonisation by exotic invasives and forest fires (Lal et al. 1994, Aravind 2004). The annual car festival of the Lord Ranganatha temple in the Biligirirangan hills draws thousands of pilgrims every year. The event, though of great cultural significance, does tend to greatly disturb wildlife habitats (Aravind 2004).


Ali, S and Ripley, S.D. 1987. Compact handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan. (Second Edition), Oxford University Press, New Delhi, India.

Aravind, N. A. 2004. Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple 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 549-550.

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.

Karthikeyan, S., Prasad J. N and Srinivasa, T. S. 1995. Yellow-throated bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus (Jerdon) at Biligirirangan Hills, Karnataka. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 92(1): 123-124.

Kazmierczak, K. 2000. A field guide to the birds of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, 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. Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary In: Directory of national parks and sanctuaries in Karnataka: Management status and profiles. Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi, India. pp 78-88.

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

Pascal, J.P., Ramesh, B.R and Kichenassamy, K. 1992. Forest map of South India: Bangalore - Salem. French Institute, Pondicherry, India.

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