(Last Updated on : 21-06-2013)
Among the handful of national parks and wild sanctuaries that have been built over the years in the core of South India, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary is quite prominent.
It is situated in the high mountainous ranges of the Western Ghats. It has rich heritage due to its close association of the Vijayanagar Empire
of the medieval period. Under the British era, huge areas of forests were cut down for tea, teak, coffee and cardamom plantations. Thus many of the wild life creatures became extinct after being uprooted from their grassy abodes.
The topography of the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary is rugged. The low foothills are less than three hundred meters in altitude, and also multitudes of plateaus are scattered. The Topslip-Parambikulam Plateau rises to a height of eight hundred meters, then ascending to the Valparai Plateau. It ranges between the 1,000 and 1,250 m, in the core of the plantation areas. The high ranges ensure a collection of wild habitats. In the low foothills, there are parched thorny forests leading to mixed deciduous and tropical semi evergreen tracts. Above the Valparai Plateau, the grasslands, 'sholas', dense evergreen forests are found. In this rugged terrain, numerous species of plants and animals reside in peace.
The Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary is extending to almost 960 sq km of area. Although this sanctuary is located in Tamil Nadu, it lies adjacent to Kerala's Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary in the west and also Eravikulam National Park in the south.
Innumerable endangered species reside in this dense forestlands and grassy fields. Amongst them, the Nilgiri Langur and the Lion-tailed Macaque are significant. Nilgiri Tahr is amongst the last of wild goat specie. The wide stretch of wild habitation, as created by the adjacent bordering sanctuaries, has gained recognition for the rich wealth of wild life
Much of the wildlife is similar to any other national parks in India. Amongst the predominant species, the Gaur (Indian Bison) deserves special mentioning. There are also a quite reasonable number of elephants that are found here. Other mammalian species, namely, Asian Elephant, Tiger, Nilgiri Langur, Lion-tailed Macaque, Slender Loris, Nilgiri Tahr, Leopard, Wild Dog (Dhole), Leopard-cat, Striped-necked Mongoose, Brown Mongoose, Indian Giant Squirrel, Small Travancore Flying Squirrel, Grizzled Giant Squirrel and Mouse Peer etc are worth to note.
Bird too are found here that are bred locally . Some of them even migrate from the nearby regions also. Woodland birds include Grey Junglefowl, Painted Bush Quail, Red Spurfowl, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Great Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Malabar Grey Hornbill, White-bellied Woodpecker, Alpine Swift, Brown-backed Needletail, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Dollarbird, Malabar Trogon, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, White-bellied Trecpie, White-bellied Shortwing, Wyiiaad Laughingthrush, Hill Myna. Nilgiri Flycatcher etc .
The howling cries of bird raptore are a common feature in the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary. These include Crested Serpent Eagle, Black Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Jerdon's Baza, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Besra, Peregrine Falcon, Spot-bellied Eagle Owl .
The scenic beauty of the Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary has caught the imagination of many people over the years. . The largest teak and rosewood trees are grown in the lush forests of the sanctuary. Some references are being found even in the 'Records of Sport in Southern India (1952)', where General Douglas Hamilton proudly said, "The views from this mountain are the grandest and most extensive I have ever beheld over half a century earlier, WT Hornaday wrote in Two Years in the Jungle (1885), "The Animallai Hills! How my nerves tingle and my pulse quickens as I write the name!"