Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
- The name ‘Nilgiris’ with literary meaning ‘blue mountains’ has originated from the blue flower clad mountains of the Nilgiris plateau within the State of Tamil Nadu.
- It was the first biosphere reserve in India established in the year 1986.
- The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is an International Biosphere Reserve in the Western Ghats and Nilgiri Hills ranges of South India.
- Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve was included in UNESCO World network of Biosphere Reserves in the year 2000.
- The Nilgiri Sub-Cluster is a part of the Western Ghats, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012.
[Location] It is located in the Western Ghats and encompasses parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
It is the largest protected forest area in India. The reserve encompasses 5,520 km² in the states of Tamil Nadu (2537.6 km²), Karnataka (1527.4 km²) and Kerala (1455.4 km²). It forms an almost complete ring around the Nilgiri Plateau.
[Geography] The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve falls under the biogeographic region of the Malabar rain forest.
- The Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, Wyanaad Wildlife Sanctuary, Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park, Mukurthi National Park and Silent Valley are the protected areas present within this reserve.
- Many of the major tributaries of the river Cauvery like the Bhavani, Moyar, Kabini and other rivers like Chaliyar, Punampuzha, etc., have their source and catchment areas within the reserve boundary.
- The sholas and grasslands play a very important role in retaining water and supplying it to these streams. A drastic decline in the sholas and grasslands is one of the reasons for the recent water scarcity in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
[Climate] The annual rainfall of the reserve ranges from 500 mm to 7000 mm with temperature ranging from 0°C during winter to 41°C during summer.
[Vegetation] The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve harbours a wide spectrum of ecosystem types.
Major parts of the core areas spread over Kerala and Tamil Nadu States, include evergreen, semi evergreen, moist deciduous montane sholas and grassland types of vegetation.
- Whereas the core area spread over the State of Karnataka contains mostly dry deciduous forests and a few patches of moist deciduous, semi evergreen and scrub jungles.
- The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is very rich in plant diversity. About 3,300 species of flowering plants can be seen here. Of the 3,300 species 132 are endemic to the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
- The genus Baeolepis is exclusively endemic to the Nilgiris.
- Some of the plants entirely restricted to the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve include species of Adenoon, Calacanthus, Baeolepis, Frerea, Jarodina, Wagatea, Poeciloneuron, etc.
[Wildlife] Animals like Nilgiri tahr, Nilgiri langur, slender loris, blackbuck, tiger, gaur, Indian elephant and marten are found here.
- Freshwater fishes such as Nilgiri danio (Devario neilgherriensis), Nilgiri barb (Hypselobarbus dubuis) and Bowany barb (Puntius bovanicus) are endemic to this Biosphere Reserve.
[Tribal] Tribal groups like the Todas, Kotas, Irullas, Kurumbas, Paniyas, Adiyans, Edanadan Chettis, Cholanaickens, Allar, Malayan, etc., are native to the reserve.
[Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary]
- Located in Kerala, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) is an integral part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. It was established in 1973.
- Spread over 344.44 sq km, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is contiguous to the tiger reserves of Nagerhole and Bandipur of Karnataka and Mudumalai of Tamil Nadu.
- Kabini river (a tributary of Cauvery river) flows through the sanctuary.
- The forest types include South Indian Moist Deciduous forests, West coast semi-evergreen forests and plantations of teak, eucalyptus and Grewelia.
- Elephant, Gaur, Tiger, Panther,Sambar, Spotted deer, Barking deer, Wild boar, Sloth bear, Nilgiri langur, Bonnet macaque, Common langur, Wild dog, common otter, Malabar giant squirrel etc are the major mammals.