(Last Updated on : 01/11/2014)
Shenbagathoppu Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary is a forest area about 8 km west of Srivilliputtur, Tamil Nadu
state in India. It serves as very good option for trekking. There is no proper bus service to reach here though. However the place can be reached by two-wheeler or even cycle.
The forests are found on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats. Only 6.3% of the total geographical area is under forests. Many rare and endemic varieties of flora and fauna are found along the mountain slopes.
A wildlife sanctuary, spread over 480 square kilometres was established in 1989 at Shenbagathopu in Srivilliputtur taluk. This sanctuary is contiguous with the Periyar tiger reserve on the south-western side and the Megamalai reserve forest on the north-western side. The altitude varies from 100 to 2010 m above sea level. The sanctuary is home to the endangered, arboreal Grizzled giant squirrel (Ratufa macrora).
This greyish brown squirrel weighs 1 to 1.8 kg. and is the size of a small cat. It measures about 735 mm. from nose to tail with the tail being 360 to 400 mm. long. They construct drays at forked branches where the crowns of neighbouring trees meet. This enables the squirrel to move away from the site by jumping from tree to tree when threatened. The home range of an individual is between 1,970 and 6,110 square metres.
The sanctuary also hosts a variety of birds, mammals, reptiles and butterflies. Resident and migratory elephants are common. Other animals sighted are tiger, leopard
, Nilgiri thar, spotted deer
, barking deer, sambar, wild boar, porcupine, Nilgiri langur, lion-tailed macaque, common langur, slender loris, bonnet macaque, sloth bear and flying squirrel. Over 100 species of birds have been identified. The rare Great Indian horn bill is also found.
Special steps have been taken to conserve the forest areas in the sanctuary. The annual leases given for the collection of fruit and other minor forest produce has been stopped. Fruit bearing trees and other trees have been planted. This will increase the food sources as well as ensure continuity in the canopy. Soil conservation and water harvesting measures have been undertaken to improve the habitat.
There are some waterfalls on the way, you can take bath and enjoy. People from surrounding will gather here especially during the winter and rainy seasons. The river and water falls (Meenvetti Parai) are so famous. Many people visit this place everyday from Srivilliputtur, Rajapalayam and Sivakasi regularly. This place is shelter for many tribal communities.