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Eravikulam National Park
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Eravikulam National Park is located in Kerala's Idukki district between the latitudes of 10o7'24.96"N and 10o18'47.88"N and the longitudes of 76o59'40.92"E and 77o8'0.6"E. It was established in 1971 when the government took over uncultivated lands and the game reserve belonging to the Kannan Devan Hill Produce Company and declared it to be a wildlife sanctuary. In 1978 the reserve was elevated to the status of a national park with a proposed extension of the area by 30 sq km (MoEF 2006). Today Eravikulam National Park covers 97 sq km and is surrounded by the vast Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary to the north and east. Along with Grass Hills National Park that lies immediately to its northwest, it forms the largest and most intact stretch of montane shola grassland in the Western Ghats. Characterised by unbroken vistas of undulating grasslands punctuated with shola forests, this national park is well known for its astonishing beauty. Elevation ranges from 1,213-2674 m and rainfall averages 4,500 mm annually (Islam and Rahmani 2004).

Shola grasslands are unique ecosystems found only in the high reaches of the southern and central Western Ghats. Shola forests comprise stunted evergreen trees, usually 10-20 m tall that are covered with mosses and epiphytes, including many species of orchids. The presence of cane and thorny shrub species makes the understorey dense and often impenetrable. These forests occur in the valleys, while surrounding slopes and crests are carpeted by montane grasslands. Species characteristic of shola include Bhesa indica, Microtropis ramiflora, Syzygium arnottianum, Ixora notoniana and Cinnamomum wightii. The grassland includes at least three plant communities with species such as Dichanthium sp., Eulalia phaeothrix, Chrysopogon zeylanicus, Arundinella mesophylla and A. purpurea (MoEF 2006). The highly endemic flora includes a plant commonly known as 'neelakkurinji' (Strobilanthes kunthianus). The remarkable thing about this species is that it flowers only once in 12 years and when it does, the sight is magnificent as entire hillsides are covered in lavender-blue flowers. The mass flowering is ecologically significant as the flowers provide pollen and nectar resources for various animal and insect species.

A total of 146 bird species have been recorded in this national park. Owing to the presence of 13 of 16 Western Ghats endemics as well as three 'Vulnerable' and four 'Near-threatened' bird species, this area has been designated as an Important Bird Area (Islam and Rahmani 2004). Among these are the globally threatened and endemic white-bellied shortwing (Brachypteryx major) and the broad-tailed grass warbler (Schoenicola platyura). The black-and-orange flycatcher (Ficedula nigrorufa) and Nilgiri pipit (Anthus nilghiriensis) are also frequently sighted here. Eravikulam is an important wintering site for several Himalayan birds such as the large-crowned leaf warbler (Phylloscopus occipitalis), rufous-tailed flycatcher (Muscicapa ruficaudata), blue-headed rock-thrush (Monticola cinclorhynchus) and pied thrush (Zoothera wardii) (Islam and Rahmani 2004).

The landscape of Eravikulam holds some of the best habitats left for highly endangered fauna that are endemic to shola grassland ecosystems, such as the Nilgiri tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius). The global population of this animal-restricted to the southern Western Ghats is estimated at only 2,000 individuals, out of which 1,500 occur in this region (560 to 680 in the Anamalai hills and approximately 800 in Eravikulam) (Mishra and Johnsingh 1998, Rice and Madhusudan in press). Other endemic and threatened mammals found here are the Nilgiri marten (Martes gwatkinsi) and Nilgiri langur (Trachypithecus johnii). Wide-ranging large mammals of conservation concern such as tiger (Panthera tigris), Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and wild dog (Cuon alpinus) are also found here (MoEF 2006).

This is one of the few protected areas in the country that has no villages located within its borders. The hill tribes, however, live inside the protected area and are dependent on its resources for survival. The park is mostly surrounded by large tea plantations. The area faces several developmental threats such as the Munnar High dam project and the Anamalayar dam (Islam and Rahmani 2004). The national park area receives more than 300,000 tourists every year. Tourists are restricted to particular zones and their movement is carefully regulated (MoEF 2006). The park remains closed during the calving season which ranges from January to March (PA Update 2006).


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.

Mishra, C. and Johnsingh, A. J. T. 1998. Population and conservation status of the Nilgiri tahr Hemitragus hylocrius in Anamalai Hills, south India. Biological Conservation. 86:199-206.

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

PA Update. 2006. Eravikulam NP closed for calving season. April 12 (2) 60: 7

Rice, C. G. and Madhusudan, M. D. In press. The Nilgiri tahr. In: Johnsingh, A. J. T. and Manjrekar, N. (eds) Mammals of South Asia. Universities Press, Hyderabad, India.

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