Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Thirunelveli
Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) located in the Southern Western Ghats in Tirunelveli District and Kanyakumari District in the South Indian state of Tamilnadu, is the second-largest protected area in Tamilnadu State (behind only Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary in Erode). Covering nearly 900 square kilometers, the combined area of the Kalakad Sanctuary and the Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary is a treasure trove for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. Extremely rich in biodiversity, one can spot Mundanthurai wildlife in all its surrounding beauty.
The dense, dark forest cover is thrilling in its mystery with the promise of a surprise at every corner. It is the 17th declared Tiger Reserve in the country. Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve has been classified as a Type-1 Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU) representing tropical moist evergreen forests in the world. Nestled between Kerala and Tamilnadu, the Agastya Mala Hill Range forms the core area of the Wildlife Sanctuary and is one of the five named biodiversity and endemism centers in India. It is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Unique in its climate and vegetation in such as different parts of the sanctuary receive different amounts of rainfall, Mundanthurai is also a great place to connect with nature. There are trails for trekking and one can do so at these designated places after seeking permission from the forest and wildlife authorities. Apart from endemic flora and fauna, avian life thrives in these forests. A trust has been working with the locals to educate and provide them with alternative sources for fuel and creating awareness about the value of the biodiversity of the sanctuary delicate and the need to protect it.
The Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve was created in 1988 by combining Kalakad Wildlife Sanctuary (251 km²) and Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary (567 km²), both established in 1962. Notification of 77 km² of parts of Veerapuli and Kilamalai Reserve Forests in adjacent Kanyakumari district, added to the reserve in April 1996. A 400 km2 (150 sq. mi) core area of this reserve has been proposed as a national park.
Located between 8° 25’ and 8° 53’ N latitude and 77° 10’ and 77° 35’ E longitude, Mundanthurai has a unique and different forest cover, with different parts of the forest receiving different amounts of rainfall. The lower forests receive an average annual rainfall of less than 1,000 mm while the upper forest gets more than 4,000 mm rainfall each year. The upper reaches of the forest is mainly tropical wet evergreen while the lower is dry deciduous. The average temperature in the summer is 44 degrees C while in winters it is a pleasant 24 degrees C. Monsoons arrive later here than the rest of the country. The western half of the sanctuary receives the lashings of the southwest monsoons while the eastern part receives the gentler northeast monsoons.
KMTR forms the catchment area for 14 rivers and streams. Among these rivers and streams, Tambraparani, Ramanadi, Karayar, Servalar, Manimuthar, Pachayar, Kodaiyar, Kadana Nathi and Kallar form the backbone of the irrigation network and drinking water for the people of Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and part of Kanyakumari District. Seven major dams – Karaiyar, Lower Dam, Servalar, Manimuthar, Ramanadi, Kadana Nathi and Kodaiyar – owe their existence to these rivers. The reserve spans a range of 40 to 1,800 m in elevation. Agasthiyamala (1681 m) is in the core zone of the reserve.
KMTR forms part of the inter-state (Kerala and Tamil Nadu) Agasthiyamala Biosphere Reserve. This part of Agastya Mala hills in the core of KMTR is considered one of the five centers of biodiversity and endemism in India by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Western Ghats, Agasthiyamala Sub-Cluster, including all of Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) has developed and implemented a conservation intervention program in KMTR to decrease local villager’s dependency on the forests for fuel to and build community awareness about the value of biodiversity in the area.
"Agasthya", the KMTR newsletter, includes updates on research projects and staff activities at KMTR. The contents of the first issue included: "A Sanctuary for Cycas circinalis," "Tiger Almost," "Round in Agasthiyamala in Fourteen Days," "Corridors - It is Just Not for the Four Legged Furry Creatures," "Behavior and Movement of Nilgiri Langur in the Upper Kodaiyar Range – KMTR," "Canopy News," "Agasthya Village Commons and Backyards to Meet the Biomass Requirements: An Experiment with Panchayat Raj and Women Collectives," "Bi-Lingual Field Guide Test Run," "Snippets from the Field," "Cullenia exarillata: A Keystone Species for Birds?" and "Tea, Tiger and Oranges".
Tigers are also protected in Tamil Nadu at Muthumalai National Park, Indira Gandhi National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, Mukurthi National Park and Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary.
Flora & Fauna
KMTR has at least 150 endemic plants, 33 fish, 37 amphibians, 81 reptiles, 273 birds and 77 mammal species.
The vegetation types ranges from forests of tropical West Coast Tropical Wet Ever Green forest to Tropical Dry Mixed Deciduous Forest and Thorn Forest makes it one of the richest biodiversity areas in the world. The reserve boasts flat land, rolling parkland, open grassland, swamps, valleys and Nullas. Important species include evolutionarily significant Sarcandra, a vessel less Angiosperm, Paphiopedulum, druryi, a rare orchid and Nageia wallichiana a broad leaved and only conifer tree of south India.
Other important tree species include Hopea parviflora, Hopea utilis, Calophylum elatum, Cullenia exarillata, Artocarpus hirsute, Syzygium sp., Cinnamomum zeylanicum, macaranga roxburghii, Mesua ferrea, Gluta travancorica, Canarium strictum, Veteria malabarica, Myristica species, Vitex altissima, Dysoxylm malabaricum, Anacolosa densiflora, Elaeodendron glacum, Eleocarpus tuberculatus, Alstonia scholaris, Mangifera indica, Decussocarpus wallichianus, Podocarpus latifolia, Eugenia species, Garcinia cambogia,Xanthophyllum flavescens, Felicium decipiens, Mallotus phillippinensis, Litsea species, Dalbergia latifolia, Kingiodendron pinnatum, Wrightia tinctoria, Chloroxylon suietenia, Pterocarpus marsupium, Anogeissus latifolia, Careya arborea, Emblica officinalis, Dalbergia paniculata, Albizia lebeck, Tectona grandis, Ficus spp., Hardwickia binata, Terminalia chebula, etc.
Kalakad-Mundanthurai is one of the best tiger reserves of India. Recent Census by Project Tiger produced the following wildlife counts: Tiger 73, leopard 79, jungle cat 1 755, wild dog 1 718, gaur 232, Sambar 1 302, chital 1 966, Nilgiri tahr 8 780, wild pig 187, mouse deer 172, sloth bear123, lion-tailed macaque 37, bonnet macaque 61, Nilgiri Langur 61, common Langur 61, slender Loris 61, giant squirrel 61, and crocodile 61. Habitat use by the grey jungle fowl (Gallus sonneratii) at Mundanthurai plateau, Tamil Nadu, was investigated from December 1987 to March 1988.
Besides Tiger Panthera Tigris, it has Leopard P. pardus as the major predator, and ungulates such as Sambar Cervus unicolor, Spotted deer Axis axis, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak and Mouse Deer Moschiola meminna. Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Gaur Bos frontalis, Nilgiri Langur Trachypithecus johni, Bonnet Macaque Macaca radiata, Lion tailed Macaque M. silenus, Slender Loris Loris tardigradus, Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus, Indian Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica, are also reported from this IBA. Rusty-spotted Cat Prionailurus rubiginosus and Nilgiri Martin Martes gwatkinsi are two uncommon species reported from this area.
Among the reptiles, King Cobra Ophiophagus Hannah, Indian Rock Python Python molurus, Monitor Lizard Varanus bengalensis and Draco or Gliding Lizard Draco dussumieri are some of the interesting species found in this IBA. The Western Ghats EBA has about 120 species of amphibians, of which 90 are restricted to rainforests. Thirty two species have been recorded from this site, of which 25 are endemic of the Western Ghats. The Black Narrow-mouth Frog Melanobatrachus indicus was rediscovered after 100 years in Kakachi. Dasia halianus, an arboreal skink, reported earlier only from Sri Lanka, was discovered by Johnsingh and Joshua (1989) from the threatened gallery forest of River Tambiraparani.
This site has rich reptilian diversity, and a total of 81 species has been identified. Some species of biological and ecological importance include Calotes andamanensis, Cochin Forest Cane Turtle Geoemyda silvatica, Anaimalai Gecko Hemidactylus anamallensis and Indian Kangaroo Lizard Otocryptis beddomii. KMTR is also famous for many rare and endemic hill stream fish of the Western Ghats. Recently, Arunachalam and Johnson (2002) have described a new species of Puntius from the streams of River Tamiraparani, named Puntius kannikattiensis.
Glossogobius giuris, Mastacembelus armatus, Channa striatus, Channa orientalis, Etroplus maculatus, Etroplus suratensis, Oreichormis mossambica (Tilapia mossambica), Macrones vittatus (Macrone vittatus), Ompak bimaculatus (callichrous bimaculates), Heteropneutes fossilis (saccobranchus fossilis), Xenentodon cancila (Belone cancila), Aplocheilus lineatus (Haplochilus rubrostigma), H.lineatus synonym of Aplocheilus lineatus, Bhavania australis (Homaloptera brucei), Gara lissorhynchus (Discognathus modestus), Cyprinus carpio communis, Labeo funbriatus, L.calbasu, Cirrhina mrigala, Catla catla, Puntius sarana sarana (Barbus sarana), Gonoproktopterus dubius (B.dubius), B.carnaticus, Tor khudree (B.malabaricus), Puntius amphibius (B.amphibius), Puntius arulius (B.arulius), Puntius filamentosus (B.machecola), Punties sophore (B.stigma), Parluciosma daniconius (Rasbora daniconius), Danio aequipinnatus, Salmostoma sardinella ( Chela untrahi), Nemacheilus pulchellus and Anguilla bengalensis are the fish varieties dound in this reserve.
Bufo beddomii, Bufo microtympanum, Indirana beddomi, Indirana brachytarsus, Indirana diplostictus, Indirana leptodactylus, Limnonectes keralensis, Melanobatrachus indicus, Micrixalus fuscus, Micrixalus suxicola, Nyctbatrachus deccanensis, Nyctibatrachus aliceae, Nyctibatrachus beddomii, Nyctibatrachus major, Nyctibatrachus vasanthi, Philautus charius, Philautus glandulosus, Philautus pulcherimus, Philautus variabilis, Ramanella Montana, Rana aurantiaca, Rana curtipes, Rana malabarica, Rana temporalis, Rhacophorus calcadensis, Rhacophorus malabaricus, Uraeotyphlus malabaaricus.
Non – Endemic Species:
Bufo melanostictus, Bufo fergusoni, Euphlyctis cynophlictis, Hoplobatrachus tigerinus, Ichthyophis longicephalus, Ichthyophis sp-1, Ichthyophis sp-2, Limnonectes keralensis, Limnonectes limnocharis, Micrixalus opisthorhodus, Micrixalus silvaticus, Microhyla ornata1 Microhyla rubra, Phillatus beddomii, Phillatus nasutus, Polypedates maculatus,sEERana brachytarsus, Tomopterna rolande, Uraeotyphlus oxyurus.
Ahaetulla dispar, Ahaetulla perrotetti, Amphiesma beddomii, Brachipodium rhodogaster, Calliophis melanurus nigroscenes, Calotes adamanensis, Calotes ellioti, Calotes grandiquamis, Calotes nemoricola, Calotes rouxii, Calotes versicolor, Cnemaspis beddomei, Cnemaspsis indica, Cnemaspis ornatus, Dendrelaphis granddoculis, Draco dussumieri, Geoemyda silvatica, Hemidactylus anamallensis, Hemidactylus maculatus, Liopeltis calamaria, Lycodon travancoricus, Mabuya gansi, Melanochelys trijuga, Melanophodium punctatum, Oligodon brevicaudus, Otocryptis beddomii, Psammophilus dorsalis, Python molurus, Ristella beddomii, Scincella travancoricus, Teretrurus gramineus, Trimeresurus malabaricus, Trimeresurus strigatus, Uropeeltis arcticeps, Uropeltis ellioti, Uropeltis liura, Uropeltis ocellatus, Varanus bengalensis.
Non endemic Species:
Ahaetulla dispar, Ahaetulla nasutus, Ahaetulla pulverulenta, Amphiesma stolata, Atretium schistosum, Boiga ceylonensis, Boiga forsteni, Boiga trigonatus, Bungarus caeruleus, Calotes calotes, Chamaeleo zeylanicus, Chrysopelea ornate, Cnemaspis littoralis, Coluber mucosus, Crocodiles palustris,Cytodactylus dakanensis, Dasia halianus, Dendrelaphis tristis, Elaphe helena, Eryx conicus, Geochelone elegans, Hemidactylus brookii, Hemidactylus frenatus, Hemidactylus leschenaulti, Hemidactylus triedrus, Heosemys silvatica, Hypnale hypnale, Lycodon aulicus, Lygosoma punctatus, Mabuya beddomei, Mabuya carinata, Mabuya macularicus, Macropisthodon plumbicolor, Naja naja, Oligodon ornensis, Oligodon taeniolatus, Ophiophagus hannah, Ophisops leschenaultii, Psammophilius blanfordanus, Ptyas conicus, Ptyas mucous, Ramphotyphlops braminus, Riopa punctata, Sitana ponticeriana, Sphenomorphus dussumieri, Trimeresurus macrolepis, Typolops braminsee, Vipera russelii, Xenochropis piscator.
The flagship species are Tiger, Asian Elephant and Lion tailed Macaque. The co-predators of Tiger include wild-dog or Indian Dhole and Leopard. Other species are: Madras hedgehog, Days' shrew, Grey musk shrew, Hill (mountain) shrew, Pygmy shrew, Fulvous fruit bat, Indian flying fox, Lesser dog-faced fruit bat, Short-nosed fruit bat, Lesser mouse-tailed bat, Black-bearded tomb bat, Pouch-bearing bat, Greater false vampire, Lesser false vampire, Rufous horseshoe bat, Blyth's horseshoe bat, Lesser woolly horseshoe bat, Dusky leaf-nosed bat, Fulvous leaf-nosed bat, Schneider's leaf-nosed bat, Evening bat, Painted bat, Slender loris, Bonnet macaque, Lion-tailed macaque, Common Langur, Nilgiri Langur, Indian jackal, Bengal fox (from outside PA), Dhole or Asiatic wild dog, Sloth bear, Nilgiri marten, Common otter, Smooth coated otter, Oriental small clawed otter, Small Indian civet, Common palm civet, Jerdon's (brown) pawn civet, Common Indian mongoose, Brown mongoose, Ruddy mongoose, Stripe-necked mongoose, Leopard cat, Jungle cat, Rusty-spotted cat, Leopard, Tiger, Asian elephant, Wild boar, Indian spotted chevrotain or mouse deer, Barking deer, Chital, Sambar, Gaur, Nilgiri tahr, Indian pangolin, Common palm squirrel, Dusky striped squirrel, Jungle striped squirrel, Indian giant squirrel, Indian giant flying squirrel, Travancore flying squirrel, Malabar spiny dormouse, Indian gerbil, Indian bush rat, Soft-furred field rat or metad, White-bellied wood rat, Indian field mouse, Bonhote's mouse, House mouse, Spiny field mouse, Indian long-tailed tree mouse, Lesser bandicoot rat, large bandicoot rat, Indian porcupine and hare.
Kalakad-Mundanthurai is one of the most important sites for the Western Ghats endemics, due to good forest cover in most parts of this Tiger Reserve. Nearly 160 birds, representing 93 genera and 40 families, have been listed. Of these, 77 are residents, 41 winter visitors, 30 altitudinal migrants and two summer visitors (Joshua and Johnsingh 1988). However, Johnsingh (2001) has mentioned that Katti et al. (unpublished) identified 273 species of birds in and around KMTR.
The globally threatened White-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx major is found in high elevation rainforests, particularly in Neterikal area. The Oriental Bay Owl Phodilus badius, an uncommon species has been recorded from Sengaltheri (Johnsingh 2001). Kodayar area could support a good population of Broad-tailed Grass-Warbler or Grassbird Schoenicola platyura. The site lies in the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area (EBA), where Stattersfield et al. (1998) have listed 16 restricted range species.
Except for the Nilgiri Laughingthrush Garrulax cachinnans, which is confined to the Nilgiris (Ali and Ripley 1987, Grimmett et al. 1998), all the remaining 15 restricted range species of this EBA are found here. This is one of the few sites in the Western Ghats where so many restricted range species are found. This also reflects the diversity and quality of habitats available in this IBA. This site also has eight Near Threatened species. Given the extensive habitats, the population of Great Pied Hornbill Buceros bicornisand Greater Grey-headed Fish-eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus could be significant, although both were considered rare by Joshua and Johnsingh (1988).
Bird Species found in this reserve are Grey Francolin, Rain Quail, Jungle Bush Quail, Small Buttonquail, Yellow-legged Button quail, Barred Button quail, Red Spurfowl, Painted Spurfowl, Grey Junglefowl, Indian Peafowl, Bar-headed Goose, Lesser Whistling-duck, Cotton Pygmy-goose, Spot-billed Duck, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Wryneck, Speckled Piculet, Rufous Woodpecker, White-bellied Woodpecker, Brown-capped Pygmy, Woodpecker, Lesser Yellownape, Streak-throated Woodpecker, Common Flameback, Black-rumped Flameback, Greater Flameback, Brown-headed Barbet Crimson-fronted Barbet, Coppersmith Barbet, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Great Hornbill, Common Hoopoe, Malabar Trogon, Indian Roller, Common Kingfisher, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Black-capped Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Green Bee-eater, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Pied Cuckoo, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Large Hawk Cuckoo, Indian Cuckoo, Lesser Cuckoo, Grey-bellied Cuckoo, Drongo Cuckoo, Asian Koel, Blue-faced Malkoha, Sirkeer Malkoha, Greater Coucal, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Plum-headed Parakeet, Malabar Parakeet, Indian Swiftlet,White-rumped Needletail, Asian Palm Swift, House Swift, Fork-tailed Swift, Alpine Swift, Crested Treeswift, Oriental Bay Owl, Oriental Scops Owl, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Spot-bellied Eagle Owl, Brown Fish Owl, Brown Wood Owl, Jungle Owlet, Spotted Owlet, Brown Hawk Owl, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Grey Nightjar, Large-tailed Nightjar, Indian Nightjar, Rock Pigeon, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Laughing Dove, Spotted Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Emerald Dove, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Slaty-legged Crake, White-breasted Waterhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Moorhen, Common Coot, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Eurasian Thick-Knee, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Red-wattled Lapwing, River Tern, Whiskered Tern, Osprey, Jerdon's Baza, Black Baza, Black-shouldered Kite, Black Kite, Brahminy Kite, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, Red-headed Vulture, Crested Serpent Eagle, Pallid Harrier, Crested Goshawk, Shikra, Besra,Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Common Buzzard, Long-legged Buzzard, Tawny Eagle, Booted Eagle, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Kestrel, Eurasian Hobby, Laggar Falcon, Little Grebe, Darter, Little Cormorant, Little Egret, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Cattle Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Grey Heron, Little Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Malayan Night Heron, Black Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Black-headed Ibis, Black Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Spot-billed Pelican, Painted Stork, Asian Openbill, Indian Pitta, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Blue-winged Leafbird, Brown Shrike, Bay-backed Shrike, Rufous Treepie, White-bellied Treepie, House Crow, Large-billed Crow, Ashy Woodswallow, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Black-hooded Oriole, Large Cuckooshrike, Black headed Cuckooshrike, Small Minivet, Scarlet Minivet, Bar-winged Flycatchershrike, Black Drongo, Ashy Drongo, White-bellied Drongo, Bronzed Drongo, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Black-naped Monarch, Asian Paradise-Flycatcher, Common Iora, Large Woodshrike, Common Woodshrike, Blue Rock Thrush, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Pied Thrush, Orange-headed Thrush, Scaly Thrush, Eurasian Blackbird, White-bellied Shortwing, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher, Brown-breasted Flycatcher, Red-throated Flycatcher, Black-and-orange Flycatcher, Verditer Flycatcher, Nilgiri Flycatcher, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, Blue-throated Flycatcher, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Indian Blue Robin, Oriental Magpie Robin, Indian Robin, Black Redstrat, Pied Bushchat, Chestnut-tailed Starling, Brahminy Starling, Common Myna, Jungle Myna, Hill Myna, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Black-lored Tit, Eurasian Crag Martin, Dusky Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Pacific Swallow, Wire-tailed Swallow, Red-tailed Swallow, Northern House Martin, Grey-headed Bulbul, Black-crested Bulbul, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, White-browed Bulbul, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Black Bulbul, Grey-breasted Prinia, Jungle Prinia, Ashy Prinia, Oriental White-eye, Grosshopper Warbler, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Thick-billed Warbler, Broad-tailed Grassbird, Orphean Warbler, Common Tailorbird, Greenish Warbler, Large-billed Leaf Warbler, Western Crowned Warbler, Wynaad Laughingthrush, Grey-breasted Laughing-thrush, Puff-throated Babbler, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Dark-fronted Babbler, Yellow-eyed Babbler, Rufous Babbler, Jungle Babbler, Yellow-billed Babbler, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Singing Bushlark, Indian Bushlark, Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark, Eurasian Skylrak, Thick-billed Flowerpecker, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Purple Sunbird, Loten's Sunbird, Little Spiderhunter, House Sparrow, Forest Wagtail, White Wagtail, White-browed Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Nilgiri Pipit, Paddyfield Pipit, Baya Weaver, Indian Silverbill, White-rumped Munia, Black-throated Munia, Scaly-breasted Munia, Black-headed Munia and Common Rosefinch.
Medicinal Plant Conservation Area
In Mundanthurai Range, Medicinal plants were planted over 150 ha. Hibiscus, Emblica, Pomagranade, Tulsi, Vilvam and other medicinal plants were raised. Besides, from 2001-02, upto 2005-06 nearly 36000 plants have been distributed free of cost to the public. Moreover about 4000 seedlings have been planted in Agathiar Kani Settlement, Servalar Settlement, Mundanthurai Forest staff quarters, Kani school buildings and Servalar Government Hospital building.
MPCA- Nambi Koil:
Nambi Koil nursery is established in ½ an acre area. Emblica, Neem, Vettiver, Naval are some of the medicinal plants raised there. From 2003-04, 2005-06 nearly 20,000 seedlings were raised and distributed locally free of cost. Further 4000 seedlings have been distributed as a part of raising medicinal plants through kitchen garden in the nearby villages.
The Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve has a large number of employees of the Electricity Board and Public Works Department who stay in three colonies and work at Karayar, Upper Dam, Servalar and Upper Kodaiyar reservoirs within the reserve. Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation has a 33.88 km² land in the core area of the reserve leased from Singampatty Zamin valid until 2028.
The Company has tea and coffee plantations and three factories, and employs about 10,000 workers in the reserve. There are several small estates and five Kani Tribal habitations, consisting of about 102 families. About 145 hamlets situated within 5 km of the 110 km eastern boundary of the reserve are inhabited by 100,000 people. There are about 50,000 cattle grazing out of these fringe villages, with a small number of cattle owned by the tea estate workers and residents of the electricity board colonies.
Western Ghats is one of the 25 global hotspots and one of the 3 mega centers of endemism in India. Agasthiyamala which forms part of KMTR is one of the 5 centers of plant diversity and endemism in India (IUCN). Among all the Tiger Reserves in the country, KMTR is probably the richest from the biodiversity point of view. This is also described as ‘Super-hotspot’ of Biodiversity. The floral diversity includes 2,254 Angiosperms which includes 448 endemic species, 58 Red- listed species, 601 Medicinal species, 90 species of wild relatives of the cultivated plants.
There are 3 Gymnosperms and 156 Pteridophytes. The faunal diversity includes 47 species of fish, 47 species of amphibians, 89 species of reptiles, 337 species of Birds and 79 species of Mammals. The entire spectrum of biodiversity of KMTR has been documented in book titled “Biodiversity of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve” by R. Annamalai and published by Tamil Nadu Forest Department. ‘Current science’ has brought out a special issue on KMTR (Volume 18, No.3, 10th February 2001).
There are 3 important waterfalls which attract lakhs of tourists every year. They are Agasthiyar falls and Banatheertham falls adjoining Karayar Dam in Mundanthurai Range and Manimuthar falls in Ambasamudram Range.
Sorimuthu Iyyanarkoil in Mundanthurai Range, Nambi Koil in Thirukkurungudi Range and Golaknath Temple in Kadayam Range are important tourist destinations.
Trekking is another important activity in this Tiger Reserve. Following are the trekking routes available in this reserve;
· Thalayanai – 6 KM. – Karungal Kasam/ Woodhouse and Dormitary 7.5 KM. Mudul
· Iruppan W. House – 7 KM – Mulakalasam – 15 KM – Kakachi
· (Log house) – 14 KM Upper Kodaiyar – Sengaltheri (R. House, W. house, I. Shed) – 14 KM - K.Range – K.R.F.
· Netterikal (No halt) – 8 KM – Thirukkurungudi Range K.R.F.
· Narakad (No halt) – 19 KM- Nambikoil (W.House)
· Kannikatti FRH – 21 KM. – Pandipatti
· Mundanthurai – (18th KM. Vadamadi RH) – 24 KM Valaiyar
· Karaiyar – 4 KM - Sevalar (E.B.) Rest House
· Kalakad Range – K.R.F. – Sengaltheri R.H. Dormitory – 10 KM- Mulakalasam
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit is between October and January. The sanctuary is open to the public from October to the summer months, but given that it becomes uncomfortably warm, one should consider visiting the sanctuary before summer sets in.
· Carry travel essentials (Soaps, towel, mosquito repellent, flashlight etc.).
· There is no cellular connectivity within the reserve except in a few select locations.
· Do not venture anyplace without informing the Range officer or his subordinates first.
· Collect information pamphlets from the Ambasamudram office.
It is best to have your own transport when staying within the reserve as most of the places are far flung. Even if driving in your own vehicle, consult the range officer for any restrictions. Some places can only be approached with the forest guards acting as guides.
Eating & Shopping
Make sure you have stocked up before departing from Ambasamudram (the last major town). There are no shops within the forest perimeter except for some small general stores selling basic stuff.
The Forest Department’s Rest House has two suites and dormitory style accommodation. Suites are reserved for visiting forest officials. One can call ahead and reserve accommodation at the Rest House. Ambasamudram has a few mid-budget bed and breakfast hotels. There are many hotels and resorts around Tirunelveli.
Forest Rest Houses are available in Mundanthurai, Kalakad (Shengaltheri) and Kuthiravetti. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations. Call DD (Deputy Director Office) – 04634250594. Local Guide will be arranged by the Range officer.
Chief Conservator of Forests & Field Director
Project Tiger, Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Sanctuary,
NGO Colony, Thirunelveli – 627007
Phone: +91 – 462 – 2552663
Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger is located at about 12 Kms from Papanasam, 23 Kms from Ambasamudram, 58 Kms from Kalakkad, 70 Kms from Thirukkurungudi, 25 Kms from Sivasailam, 46 Kms from Tenkasi, 50 Kms from Manjolai, 68 Kms from Thirunelveli, 230 Kms from Madurai, 115 Kms from Thoothukudi and 160 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram.
This reserve can be accessed by road from Thirukkurungudi, Kalakad, Papanasam, Ambasamudram and Sivasailam. Buses are plying to reach Mundanthurai and Upper Kodayar and these roads pass through the Tiger Reserve. Regular bus services are available Tirunelveli which takes a little over than an hour.
Nearest Railway Station is located at Ambasamudram.
Nearest Airport is located at Madurai, Thoothukudi and Thiruvananthapuram.