Geography of Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary
Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats. It consists of high hills and valleys, with a number of peaks reaching up to 1,800 metres. It is the eastern watershed boundary for the Periyar River and one of the best preserved forests situated south of the Palghat Gap. The sanctuary is spread over 480 sq kms. The tributaries of the river Vaipaar and few rivulets draining into the river Gundaar originate in the hill tracts of the sanctuary. This sanctuary is adjacent to Periyar Tiger Reserve on the South western side and the Megamalai Reserve Forest on the north western side. Its southern limit is close to the Sivagiri Reserved Forest of Tirunelveli Forest Division. The climate is generally hot and dry in the foothills. Hot tropical climate prevails in the upper elevations. The average annual rainfall ranges from 800- 2300 mm. It receives both southwest and northeast monsoons. This Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary lies mostly in Virudhunagar District and partly in Madurai district. The altitude varies from 100 MSL to 2010 MSL. The water sources for this sanctuary are the Kallar and Mullaperiyar Dams and the Periyar, Naragaiar, Pachaiar, Mangar, Kovilar and Pairakudraiar rivers. The underlying rock throughout the area is granitoid gneiss formation. The lowest altitudes have a mixture of quartz and quartzite. The sanctuary thus experiences varied climate and topographic conditions that present significant diversity both in flora and fauna.
Flora of Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary
Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary is a mix of tropical evergreen forests and semi-evergreen forests, dry deciduous forests, moist mixed deciduous forests, open deciduous, closed deciduous forests and grasslands with scrub jungles in the foot hills. The sanctuary has a rich floral diversity that is formed due to the altitudinal gradient and rainfall patterns. The sanctuary has one Medicinal Plant Conservation Area (MPCA) located at Thaniparai.
Fauna of Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary
The Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary has a wide range of herbivores, carnivores and omnivores animals. The resident and migrating elephants are common here. Apart from the grizzled giant squirrel there are other important animals like Tiger, barking deer, bonnet macaque, common langur, elephants, flying squirrels, gaur, Indian giant squirrels, leopard, lion-tailed macaques, mouse deer, nilgiri langur, nilgiri tahrs, palm civets, porcupine, sambar, slender lorris, sloth bear, spotted deer, tree shrews, wild boar and wild cats. The sanctuary also has 200 species of avifauna including 14 species of birds endemic to the Western Ghats. These include the critically endangered Oriental white-backed vulture and the Long-billed vulture, vulnerable species Nilgiri Wood-pigeon, Broad-tailed Grass Warbler, Red-faced Malkoha and the White-bellied Shortwing and Near threatened species like the Great Pied Hornbill, Nilgiri Pipit, Black-and-orange Flycatcher and the Nilgiri flycatcher. The Malayan Night Heron is less concern. The main raptors here are the Serpent Eagle, Hawks and Black Eagle. The Sanctuary has 18 species of snakes, 15 species of lizards, over 10 species of amphibians and over 56 species of butterflies now.
Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary is well connected with all modes of transport. The sanctuary is 45 km away from Virudhunagar town and about 75-80 km away from Madurai city. Srivilliputhur railway station is situated 5 km way from the sanctuary. Tourists can avail the forest rest houses at Mudungiar, Pudupatti and Mudaliaroothu. Apart from this there are many private lodges near the sanctuary.