Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve
Mundanthurai Wild Life Sanctuary, the extensive preserve is a Project Tiger Reserve. Kalakkad WLS is located at the foothills of the Western Ghat and the area adjoining it. The Vegetation ranges from forests of tropical wet evergreen to tropical dry deciduous and thorn forests at the foot of the Ghats. Among the mammals that are spotted here are the elusive tiger, elephant, panther, jackal, wild dogs, lion tailed macaque, Nilgiri langur, common langur, sloth bear, gaur, flying squirrel. Also seen is a wide variety of reptile population including cobra, python, and other species of snakes. A large variety of birds found adds to the naturalist's delight. Accommodation is available in the Forest Rest House at Sengaltheri, for reservation Phone: 04635-261100; 20km from Kalakkad village and hotels in Tirunelveli.
Straddling the Tamil Nadu Kerala border, the Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve is an 895 sqkm tract of undulating land with metamorphic rocks draped by evergreen forests, scrub and grass lands. The park's biodiversity matches its rich and varied terrain. Located at the southern end of the Western Ghats, one of the 18 Biodiversity Hotspots in the World, the reserve stretches along the 288km border, hemmed in between Kerala to the west and Tirunelveli District to the north and east. The sagely peak of Agasthiarmalai (1,868m/6,129ft), the third highest in South India, lies in Kerala, but trekking trails marked out by forest officials, over 250 bird species, waterfalls and scenic vistas make KMTR a haven for wildlife enthusiasts.
Historically the Pandyas, Madurai Nayakas and the British ruled the area andit was R.K. Puckle, the District Collector of Tirunelveli who organized the Forest Department in 1864. Almost a century later, Mundanthurai was declared a Tiger Sanctuary in 1962 and the entire Kalakad Reserve Forest was notified as a sanctuary to protect the endangered lion tailed macaque in 1976. By 1989, KMTR became the 17th Tiger Reserve in India and the only one its kind in Tamil Nadu. There is a sizeable population of its apex species, the tiger and the leopard (panther), but they are elusive. Herds of elephants frolic in the watering holes and it is easy to see sambar, spotted deer and the occasional mouse deer, barking deer or gaur. Nilgiri tahrs are seen in higher regions. The woods are home to sloth bears, brown mongoose, brown palm civets, Indian pangolins, Malabar spiny dormouses, Nilgiri langurs, slender lorises, bonnet macaque and wild dogs. The forest also crawls with king cobras, pythons and green pit vipers. Apart from the Agamid lizard (rediscovered in Kakachi forest) and the rare arboreal skink, the crocodiles released into the reservoirs in the 1970s are thriving! For birders, highlights include Ceylon frogmouth, grey-headed bulbul, great black woodpecker, great pied hornbill, great Indian hornbill, Malabar grey hornbill, Oriental bay and broad-tailed grass warbler.
Nourished by two monsoons a year (June to August and October to December), the reserve is a watershed for 14 major rivers and streams. The scenic sights Agasthiar Falls, Karayar Dam and Papanasam Dam are necessary do. Boating options at the dam allow a ride to Banatheertham Falls for a 1hr stop to have an indulgent shower.
6km from Ambasamudram or 47km from Tirunelveli, Mundanthurai WLS is spread over 567 sq km. This lesser known tropical land is home to tigers, macaque, langurs, glender loris, samber, chitals and many more of the endangered species. The forest with a wide variety of flora and fauna has several trekking trails.
45km south of Tenkasi or 54km east of Tirunelveli. Amabasamudram, Papanasam Upper Dam Road, Tirunelveli District. Open daily 6am to 6pm Guided Tours: Frh can arrange a local guide birding and treks. Phone 0462-2552663(Tirunelveli), Kalakad: 04635-261100.
For prior permission to stay at Mundanthurai Rest House, contact Deputy Director, Project Tiger Office, ambasamudram (opp. Marriage Hall) or Field Director, Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, NGO 'A' Colony, Tirunelveli. Avoid March to May as temperatures average 36 to 44°C. September to March is the best time to visit.
Total Area 895km Annual rainfall 1000 - 4000 mm Nearest town Tirunelveli 47km Best Season September-March Info Field Director, Project Tiger, Tirunelveli Phone: 0462-2552663