Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve
Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve is a protected area and Tiger Reserve along the Western Ghats in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Sathyamangalam forest range is a significant wildlife corridor in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve between the Western Ghats and the rest of the Eastern Ghats and a genetic link between the four other protected areas which it adjoins, including the Billigiriranga Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, Sigur Plateau, Mudumalai National Park and Bandipur National Park.
First declared in 2008 and enlarged in 2011, it covers a forest area of 1,411.6 km2 (545.0 sq mi) and is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. In 2013, it became the fourth Tiger Reserve as a part of Project Tiger in the state of Tamil Nadu. The sanctuary covers parts of Sathyamangalam taluk and Gobichettipalayam taluk of Erode District in the north western Tamil Nadu. Conservation of the Sathyamangalam Forest Division is administered by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department governed through Conservator, Erode, Divisional Forest Officer, Gobichettipalayam and District Forest Officer, Sathyamangalam.
The Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary, home to 28 tigers – the highest density of tigers in India - is currently contesting to be named Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve. The large population of sambhar, spotted deer and gaur is the main reason for the high density of the striped wild cat as the former makes for perfect prey base. At SWS you are closer to catching a glimpse of the striped hyena, as it is one of the last few places where they exist. Another rare species you can spot is the four-horned antelope. SWS have an excellent population of blackbuck. What is intriguing about this particular animal in Sathyamangalam is that, it is the only landscape in the country where the blackbuck and tiger co-exist; to observe the two together is an opportunity that is one in a million. This sanctuary is also home to more than 850 pachyderms, making it India's largest elephant habitat.
Mugger crocodiles are indigenous to Sathyamangalam. These crocs have not been strategically introduced but are found here in the wild. Other animals you can find here are Bengal tiger, leopards, wild boar, sloth bear, barking deer and more. The flora for these animals is mostly tropical dry forest. SWS has five forest types, they are: tropical evergreen, semi-evergreen, mixed-deciduous, thorn forests and dry deciduous. They occur alternately with evergreen forests in limited patches of the higher altitudes, between 750 and 1649 meters above mean sea level. Most areas are found to be mixed shrub land and grassland, ideal feeding grounds for the preferred prey of the tigers.
In recent years, the Moyar River valley has seen a small but growing population of threatened gyps. This is just one of the 230 bird species that you can view at Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary. Four rare species of vulture – White backed Vulture, Nephron Vulture, King Vulture and Long billed Vulture – thrive here. They are almost non-existent in the rest of the country with their population seeing a steady decline of 99.9% in the past twenty years.
Sathyamangalam Forest Vultures, as they have come to be known are endangered as well as a favorite among wildlife enthusiasts. SWS have become a viable and significant area for vultures in India because the sanctuary is located directly in the migratory paths of many animals. While in transit, the weak and hungry animals fall to their death and become an abundant food resource for the Sathyamangalam forest vultures. The low and open scrub forests make it that much easier for the vultures to find these carcasses, bringing them to this part of the sanctuary. Sathyamangalam is literally the only remaining stronghold for them in the sub-continent, the only known safe haven for these birds being Tamil Nadu.
Sathyamangalam could well be your last connection to these birds of prey, a rare chance to witness their majestic prowess in the wild. On an entirely different note, for many years the Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary was the hideout of the infamous bandit Veerapan - a crime legend known for poaching, sandalwood smuggling, ivory smuggling and other inglorious misdeeds. His activities and mere presence destroyed a vast tract of the forest land along with the calm of the region (known to this day as the most haunted spot in all of Tamil Nadu). Having been caught and killed in 2004, the area now resides in peace. Such stories and other impressive possibilities make Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary an absolutely thrilling wildlife viewing experience.
In exercise of the powers conferred by the Wild Life Protection Act of 1972, the Governor of Tamil Nadu, having considered the area is of adequate ecological, faunal, floral, geomorphologic, natural and zoological significance, for the purpose of protecting, propagating and developing wild life and its environment, declared that the defined area shall be a Sanctuary, on and from the 3 November 2008.
The sanctuary includes the following areas of Sathyamangalam Forest Division:
Ø Guthiyalathur Reserved Forest (Portion) 299.47 square kilometres (115.626 sq mi),
Ø Guthiyalathur Extension Reserved Forest 1.6231 square kilometres (0.627 sq mi),
Ø Thalamalai Reserved Forest (Portion) 210.85 square kilometres (81.410 sq mi),
Ø Thalamalai Extension Reserved Forest 12.4063 square kilometres (4.790 sq mi),
The total area was 524.3494 square kilometres (202.452 sq mi). The boundaries of the sanctuary were:
Ø North: Talavady(Thalavadi) Range of Thalamalai Reserved Forest and Hasanur and T.N.Palayam (Gobichettipalayam Taluk) Ranges of Guthiyalathur Reserved Forests. Contiguous with Biligiriranga Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary
Ø South: Moyar River and Bhavani River. Contiguous with Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary and Sigur Plateau south of the Moyar River.
Ø West: Karnataka State Boundary Contiguous with Bandipur National Park.
In September 2011, the Forest Department increased the Sanctuary area 169% by adding 887.26 km2 (342.57 sq mi) in seven reserve forests of Sathyamangalam Forest Division to the existing wildlife sanctuary spread over 524.34 km2 (202.45 sq mi).
The largest chunks of additional area are 487.92 km2 (188.39 sq mi) from Guthiyalathur and 319.87 km2 (123.50 sq mi) from Talamalai reserve forests, thus increasing the total sanctuary area to 1,411.6 km2 (545.0 sq mi).
Of the total area, the core zone comprises 917.27 km2 (354.16 sq mi) (65%). Tourism and minimal construction will only be allowed in the buffer zone, while only forest officials will be permitted entry in the core zone.
Sathyamangalam tiger reserve
Early on 15 July 2010, the Indian Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, requested the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. Karunanidhi to: "consider the possibility of proposing the Sathyamangalam Wild Life Sanctuary as a Project Tiger Tiger Reserve, vis-a-vis the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 as the area is contiguous with the forests of Chamrajnagar-Bandipur-Mudumalai".
On 1 April 2010 The Government of Tamil Nadu said it would soon initiate action to declare SWS as a tiger reserve because many tigers are consistently being sighted in the forest here. This tiger reserve declaration is expected to strengthen wildlife conservation efforts, as the sanctuary managers will get more financial support from the central government. The Government of India may provide support to appoint additional anti-poaching watchers and fund the establishment of anti-poaching camps
On 6 April 2012, Chief Wildlife Warden Rakesh Vasisht said the proposal to have a tiger reserve in Sathyamangalam has been sent (to the MOEF for approval and funding).
Incidentally, in 2008, the Karnataka Forest Department had sent a proposal to also declare the contiguous Biligiriranga Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, as a Tiger Reserve. The proposal to notify the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary as a critical tiger habitat was subsequently approved in 2010.
On 10 March 2011, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife said that the proposal for according tiger reserve status for the Sathyamangalam Reserve Forests is under consideration. He said that studies using camera traps and scats indicated there could be 19 to 25 tigers in Sathyamangalam forests. He added that Tamil Nadu might have 100 to 110 tigers based on the camera traps and scat examination done in Tamil Nadu's three tiger reserves: Mudumalai National Park, Indira Gandhi National Park and Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve A 2011 camera trap tiger density study by World Wildlife Fund ( WWF) at the SWS indicated that the sanctuary is home to at least 25 tigers.
A DNA based project initiated by the state forest department collected 150 samples of pugmarks from Sathyamangalam forests and 69 of them were found positive for tigers by tests conducted at the Centre for Molecular Biology in Hyderabad. The lab findings indicate that the region is home to up to 30 tigers. In a 2010 wildlife survey, 46 tigers were sighted in the Sathyamangalam forest area
Supported by these reports, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department prepared a detailed report to the state government supporting the tiger reserve proposal. This proposal came up for consideration before the Tamil Nadu Council of Ministers in early 2012.
On 18 March 2013, a government order under the "The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006" has been circulated to the conservator of forests in Erode that the Sathyamangalam Reserve shall be the fourth tiger reserve in the state the other three being Mudumalai, Kalakkad Mundanthurai and Annamalai.
Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve is located in the strategic confluence region of Western and Eastern Ghats. An area of 1, 40,924 ha is declared as Tiger Reserve on 15.03.2013 from erstwhile Wild Life Sanctuary with an area of 1, 41,161 ha. It comprises of 2 divisions; Sathyamangalam and Hasanur with District headquarters at Erode.
This area holds a significant population of tiger, and it is also contiguous to other Tiger conservation landscapes like BRT, Bandipur, Mudumalai and Nagarahole.
The region is also a part of Nilgiri-Eastern Ghats Elephant Reserve and is an abode to about 800 to 1000 Elephants as per Synchronized Elephant Census conducted during 2012.
The Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve is the confluence of two distinct geographical regions of bio diversity landscape; Western Ghat and Eastern Ghat. The diversity of habitat has got an assemblage of several species of rare plants, animals, birds, invertebrates, fishes, amphibians, and reptiles.
Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary is a definite must-see if you trip on nature and wildlife. The surroundings are tranquil and beautiful, a sea change from the crowds, dust and pollution of city life. If you are lucky you can spot the majestic tiger and the regal elephant. In fact, the forest is home to over 850 elephants making it India’s largest habitation for the pachyderms. In 2010, 46 tigers were seen here. This apart there are wild boar, deer, antelope, sloth bear, striped hyenas, gaur, mongoose and monitor lizards, not to forget the graceful leopards. Bird lovers will also find Sathyamangalam enchanting because at least 230 species of birds have been spotted here. These include Treepies, Bulbuls, Babblers, Mynahs, Crows and a diminutive population of Threatened Gyps and Vultures.
Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary is basically tropical dry green forest, but you can also find tropical evergreen (Shola), semi-evergreen, mixed-deciduous, dry deciduous and thorn forests. The evergreen forests are in the high altitude regions of the sanctuary and are few and far between. The semi-evergreen too is restricted to the high altitude regions. The mixed and dry deciduous forests flourish in the middle altitude slopes and the thorn forests hug the foot hills. Large portions are swathed with mixed shrub land and grasslands.
If you are spiritually inclined, you should visit the two temples in the region - Bannari Amman Temple which is at the entrance of the Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Kongalli Temple in the Thalavady Range which is deep within the forest.
Trekking enthusiasts will enjoy the trek from Hasanur and Gettavady( near Thalavady) to Thengumarada. This two-day trek takes you through thick forest, covering a distance of nearly 20 km. You can enjoy camping in the dense forest with only the eerie forest sounds for company!
Sathyamangalam Forest Division is the second largest division in the state having 1.45 lakh ha of forest area, out of which 524 Sq Km area of lower plains and mountain slopes have been declared as Wildlife Sanctuary in the past and now declared as Tiger Reserve.
Part of 7 th Elephant reserve (Nilgiris Eastern Ghats Elephant Reserve) and facilitates annual migration between Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats. It has got 6 Elephant corridors.
The Tiger reserve is known for rich biodiversity. 13% of Indian mammal diversity is found in Sathyamangalam. About 40 species of larger mammals, over 225 species of birds, 30 species of reptiles, 85 species of butterflies, 15 species of amphibians, and 10 species of fishes are recorded in the region. For the same rich biodiversity, the area is part of India’s 1st heritage “Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve” which was declared as early as, during Sep 1986 for its rich biodiversity and conservation value.
Good population of black buck is confined to this area. Hyena, a scavenging carnivore is well distributed in this Sanctuary. White backed Vulture Colonies are found here.
The region has 5 forest types which include Riparian Forests along Moyar River, the lifeline and it is the region for high biodiversity and endemism. More than 700 species of flora is documented in STR and more than 60 are endemic.
It is a potential Tiger Habitat which is in contiguous with other Tiger Reserves and is home to more than 50 Tigers.
Tamil Literature dating back to Sangam age vividly describe about the forests and wildlife of Sathyamangalam forest area and its early history.
This area, which falls under Kongu country, was ruled by many rulers. Tippu Sultan who was ruling Mysore in 17th century laid two Chief Routes to Kongu country through the forests of Sathyamangalam. Remnants of such tracts in the forests bear witness even today. Tippu elevated the status of Sandal as “Royal Tree” and gave importance for forest protection.
In 1856, the Forest Department organized for the first time under the auspices of Dr. Cleghorn and Sathyamangalam, Talamalai and Bhavani were among the earliest areas to be brought under the control of the new department and were placed under in charge of Captain W.H.Morgan with the Head quarters at Ootacamund. Then Coimbatore North Division was constituted in April 1909 in which Sathyamangalam area falls part of it.
During 1980, the Sathyamangalam Division was formed. This division area was worked for fuel coupes since pre-independence period. In early 60s it was so vigorous and State’s fuel wood needs were met with the areas of this division to a larger extent.
To meet the timber needs selection felling coupes were worked in Minchikuli, Talamalai areas. Bamboo coupes were also worked up to 1981. Fuel coupes were stopped in 1975 and selection felling was stopped in 1980. These felling coupes have caused degradation and the habitats were disturbed. This huge disturbance is also quoted as one of the reasons for disappearance of Tigers in the region.
Ecology and Biodiversity
The Sathyamangalam forest is mostly tropical dry forest, part of the South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests ecoregion. there are five distinct forest types: tropical evergreen (Shola), semi-evergreen, mixed-deciduous, dry deciduous and thorn forests. Evergreen forests are restricted to small patches in a few high altitude hill tops of Sathyamamgalam between 750 metres (2,460 ft) and 1,649 metres (5,410 ft). These patches are threatened on account of land use changing to hill agriculture and plantation crops, including fruit. Semi-evergreen forests are found at high altitude. Mixed and dry deciduous forests are located on middle altitude slopes and the thorn forests are usually found in the foot hills and some times, due degradation of dry deciduous forests, at the middle elevations. About 65% of the forest division is under forest cover. Significant areas of mixed Shrubland and grasslands support a large population of herbivore ungulates, the preferred prey of tigers.
The Tiger Reserve area is rich in floral composition owing to its location. The region comprises of 5 forest types which includes primarily Deciduous forest combined with Thorn forest, tropical hill forest and Riparian forest.
Sandal occurred predominantly in these forests and it was designated as the Royal Tree by King Tippu Sultan. Terminalia spp, Anogeissus latifolia, Dalbergia latifolia, Syzigium spp, Acacia spp, Mesua ferrea, Albizzia amara, Mesua ferea, Hardwickia binata, Ziziphus spp, Vites spp, Pterocarpus marsupium, Phyllanthus emblica, Mangifera indica, Pongamia glabra, combined with Teak and Bamboo are some of the notable species.
Sathyamangalam Forest area is also known for Bamboos in the past. Larger areas were found under bamboo forests and systematic felling of bamboos and silivicultural operations were carried out. Bamboo was supplied to Seshasayee Paper and Board as raw material to the industry. Between 1972- 1975 gregarious flowering of bamboo appeared everywhere and all bamboo patches were totally dried out from many places. Thus, bamboo was totally wiped out from this division, except in few pockets in Moyar Valley and Hassanur Range.
The vegetation types found in Sathyamangalam are classified into the following types.
a) Southern tropical dry thorn forest (6 A /C1)
b) Southern tropical dry mixed deciduous forest (5A/C3)
c) Southern sub tropical hill forests (8 A/C1)
d) Southern tropical semi evergreen forest (2A/C2)
e) Riparian Forest.
Deciduous Forest and thorn forest occupy most of the forest area in the region.
Southern Tropical dry thorn forest
Tropical dry thorn forest is occurs along the plateau and valley in the sanctuary. This region receives an average annual rainfall of 600mm. Trees are stunted in growth with following tree species predominantly distributed in this forest type. Acacia catechu, A. chundra, A.suma, A. leucophloea, Anogeissus latifolia, Ziziphus xylopyrus, Randia spp., Ziziphus jujuba, Sapindus emarginatus, Phyllanthus emblica, Erythroxylon monogynum, Canthium parviflorum, etc
Southern Tropical Dry Mixed Deciduous Forest
This type of forest occurs in hill slopes of Bhavanisagar, and Sathyamangalam Ranges where the rainfall is between 800-850 mm. Anogeissus latifolia and Terminalia crenulata are commonly distributed in this forest region.
Themeda triandra, T. Cymbaria, Heteropogon and Digitaria spp. are the commonly seen grasses in the under storey. Canopy is open in many places with poor regeneration of tree saplings. This area is prone to fire during dry season. The other tree species found in this habitat includes; Grewia tilifolia, T. tomentosa, and Kydiya calycina, Sapindus emarginatus is found in many places.
Southern sub Tropical hill Forest
This type of forest is confined to hill slopes of Bhavanisagar and Sathyamangalam Ranges. Common tree species found here are; Acacia torta, Acacia Planiferons, Albizia amara, Bauhinia racemosa, Hardwickia binata, Dichrostachys cinerea, Cassia fistula, Mesua ferrea, Pterocarpus marsupium, Scheleichera oleosa, Ziziphus mauritiana and other stunted tree species. Weed cover also dominated in some places with reference to drainage and topography. Prosopis juliflora and Lantana camera are heavily invaded into the cover.
Southern Tropical Semi-Evergreen Forest
This forest type occurs in a transition zone at an elevation of 1200 m between the dry deciduous forests and sub tropical hill forests or as an edaphic sub-climax in few favourable moist pockets. This type is met within Malliamman durgam. As this type is an intermediary between tropical evergreen and moist deciduous forests, the dominance of both are usually found mixed. Soil is generally an argillaceous loam with plenty of humus. The vegetation is dense and tends to be semi ever green.
Some of the important tree species found are Anogeissus latifolia, Bischofia javanica, Celtis tetrandra, Chukrasia tabularis, Dalbergia latifolia, Machilus macrantha, Mangifera indica, Santalum album Syzigium cuminii, Terminalia chebula, Toona ciliate, Trema orientalis, Cinnamomum wightii, Ixora arborea, Kydia calycina, Litsea wightiana,Mallotus philippensis, Michelia champaga, Neolitsea zeylanica, Phoebe lanceolata, Plectronia didyma, Radermachera xylocarpa, Viburnum acuminatum, Vitex altissima, Wendlandia thysoidea.
Riparian Forest along the Moyar River
Riparian forest is found all along the Moyar river. This type of forest can be seen in Bhavanisagar Range. The canopy is closed in this forest and the trees are tall. The common tree species includes Terminalia arjuna, Spondias mangifera, Pongamia pinnata, Lagerstromia microcarpa, Ficus spp., The ground floor vegetation includes several species of herbs and shrubs. Bamboo thickets are also found amidst the riparian forests. Both species of bamboos namely, Bambusa arundinacea and Dendrocalamus strictus are found here. Elephants and Gaur eat both species of bamboo.
In all habitat types of forest if one looks from a vantage point a green strip of riparian forest could be seen along the Moyar River in Bhavanisagar Range. The plant species found in riparian forest includes; Mangifera indica, Pongamia glabra, Terminalia arjuna, Syzygium cumini, Dalbergia latifolia, Bambusa arundinaecia, Dentrocalamus srictus.
The Sathyamangalam forests are especially important because they link the Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats allowing gene flow between diverse populations of the two habitats.
In December 2011, the Conservator of Forests, Erode Circle stated that the SWS is home to at least 28 tigers which has been confirmed by a camera trapping study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In 2011, it was reported that the Sathyamangalam forest is home to over 850 Indian Elephants, making it the largest elephant habitat in the country. The 2010 survey counted 12 Bengal Tigers.
The 2009 wildlife survey enumerated 10 Bengal Tigers, 866 Indian Elephants, 672 Gaurs, and 27 leopards. The survey party observed four additional species of horned antelope including 2,348 Spotted deer, 1,068 Blackbuck, 304 Sambar deer, 77 Barking deer and Four-horned antelope, 843 wild boar, 43 Sloth bear and 15 striped hyenas. Herds of the famous Feral Buffaloes can also be spotted in places near the Moyar River.
Many Treepies, Bulbuls, Babblers, Mynahs and Crows were seen. In 2010, the first ever bird survey in Sathyamangalam Forest Division was conducted in the Bhavanisagar, Sathyamangalam, Thalavadi, T.N. Palayam and Hasanur Ranges. A total of 230 species of birds were recorded in the survey. As of 2010, a small population of Threatened Gyps and three other species of Vultures have continued to thrive in the Moyar River valley near Mangalapatti in Sathyamangalam Forest Division. These forests have been recognised to be significant areas for the vultures in South India.[ 20 nests have been sighted and about 40 vultures could be in the area. Vultures were last seen here in the 1970s.
Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve has got a high diversity of fauna, similar to the adjoining protected areas. Notable species other than the Tigers are; Elephants, Gaur, Black Buck, Four Horned Antelope, Mugger, White Backed Vulture, Sloth Bear, wide variety of Deers, Primates, Civets, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and other lower creatures.
Important Mammals – Status, Distribution and Habitat
According to estimates, there are four hundred and ten (8.86% of the World’s mammals) species of mammals known to exist in India, which are spread over 186 genera, 45 families and 13 orders. This includes nearly 89 species listed as threatened in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals (IUCN 2006). One hundred and twenty species of mammals are known from the Western Ghats, of which fourteen species are endemic. The mammalian fauna of the Western Ghats is dominated by insectivores (11 species), bats (41 species) and rodents (27 species including the porcupine). The diversity of mammals is high in the dry thorn forests, dry deciduous forests and riparian forest. Thirteen percentage mammal species found in India are present in Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve.
Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)
Tiger is placed in the Appendix I of the CITES and so the trade of this animal is strictly prohibited internationally in the Red Data Book. Tiger is also placed in Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
During 2005, evidences of Tiger reappearance were found in STR region and it was scientifically proved by CCMB & WTI study in 2010. From then on, owing to proper protection, adequate living conditions and sufficient prey base, there has been continuous upsurge in Tiger population from 28, which is proved by lab results. At present, based on the camera trap records, this region is being abode for about 54 individual tigers.
Bonnet Macaque (Macaca radiate) Vella korungu -Tamil
A medium-sized long tailed macaque with Total body length 35-65cm, Weight 4-9 kg. A bonnet of long dark hairs radiates in all directions from a whorl on its crown and this peculiar cap does not quite cover the forehead, where the hairs are short and nearly parted in the centre. The coat of the Bonnet Macaque is variable both among individuals and with the season. In the cold weather it is usually lustrous olive-brown; the under part whitish. With the onset of the hot weather the coat loses its luster, turns harsh and scraggy, and fades to a Buffy grey.
In Sathamangalam Tiger Reserve, bonnet macaque is commonly found in the riparian and deciduous forests. They are seen feeding on various wild fruits, leaves and shoots, and of late, they congregate on the main roads due to feeding by the travelers.
The Common Langur (Semipithecus entellus)
Langurs are commonly seen near Dhimbam road, Hasanur plateau and Talamalai forests.
Slender Loris (Loris Iyddekerianus)
Slender Loris is the southern grey-brown cousin of the slow loris, with total body length of 20 – 25 cm and body weight of 125-340 gms, and tail distinctly absent. The Slender Loris has the same secretive and nocturnal habits as the Slow Loris, but it is not confined to dense forest, and is found equally in open tree jungle. It is listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, endemic to hill and plains of Southern India, seen in deciduous and thorn forests of Sathyamangalam. The IUCN status for the species is Vulnerable.
Leopard (Panthara pardus)
The most adaptable big cat of Indian sub-continent, leopard is a sleek short animal with a fulvous or bright fulvous coat marked with small close set black. The sightings of blackpanther are reported in the forest tracts of Nandipuram, Thengumarada, Chikalli and Neydalapuram. The IUCN categorized leopard as Lower Risk, near threatened LR. It is also placed in the Appendix I of the CITES and so the trade of this animal is strictly prohibited internationally. It is also placed in the Schedule-I of Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972. Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary supports a good population of leopards, (around 20) as evident from the distribution of leopard signs.
Jungle Cat (Felis chaus)
The most common wild cat in India, with its long legs and comparatively short tail the Jungle Cat has a very distinctive appearance. Of the lesser cats, this species was the most common and was seen in most habitat types in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, especially mixed thorn forests areas of Bhavanisagar Range.
Small Indian Civet (Viverricula indica)
A common ring tailed civet with total body length of 45 – 60 cm. and body weight of 2.5 – 3.5 kg. The estimates of their numbers are not available. A detailed study is needed to investigate the ecology of the species. The IUCN status is Lower Risk and is in schedule-II of Wildlife Protection Act.
Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphrodites)
It is a black or blackish-brown civet with long coarse hair, having total body length of 42 – 69 cm and body weight of 2.7 -4.5 kg. It is probably the most common civet in India, distributed in deciduous and scrub forest and well wooded countryside. Habitats loss and poaching are conservation threats. The IUCN status is Lower Risk and is in schedule-II of Wildlife Protection Act. It is seen in the Riparian forests of Sathyamangalam.
Brown Palm Civet (Paradoxurus jerdoni)
A civet with a limited forest distribution found in the hill ranges of south India. It’s a shy animal, rarely entering houses and is distinctive in its deep brown colouring. The IUCN status for the species is vulnerable and is in schedule-II of Wildlife Protection Act.
The Common Mongoose (Herpestes edwardsi)
It’s commonly found in the open scrub, cultivated land, rocky patches and forest edges being the preferred habitat.
Ruddy Mongoose (Herpestes smithii)
A large forest mongoose of Peninsular India, the Ruddy Mongoose resembles the Grey Mongooses, but has a reddish-brown infusion, particularly on the head, neck and shoulder. Its legs are also reddish, especially the hind ones. The tail is short with black tip that is carried pointed upwards, a unique behavioral trait.
Stripe – Becked Mongoose (Herpestes Vitticolis)
A stocky Southern Indian mongoose with a reddish tint to its body, this is the largest mongoose in Asia with total body length 40-55cm and weight of 2.5-3.5 kg. It is distributed in moist forests and swampy areas of Western Ghats. It is found mostly in dry mixed deciduous forests of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve.
There are five species are occurring in India. Two of them are known to in Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary. They are Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra) and Smooth coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata).
The Sloth Bear (Melursus ursins)
Sloth bear is distributed in the forested tracts of India in deciduous jungles, scrub and grassland. Sathyamangalam is famous for its sighting of sloth bear in Bhavani Sagar, and Sathyamangalam Ranges. Fruits of Cassia fistula, Ziziphus mauritiana, and Cordia domestica and insects such as ants and termites were the most dominant food items. A detailed study on the ecology of the species is warranted for its scientific management.
Striped Hyena (Hyaena hyaena)
The hyena is rare in forested districts, abundant in open country, especially where low hills and ravines offer convenient holes and caves for shelter. It plays a major role in the eco system. Sathyamangalam division, Nilgiri north and Mudumalai forests are the last remaining stronghold for this endangered species.
The Jackal (Canis aures)
The exact status and distribution of the Jackal in the Tiger Reserve needs a thorough study. This species once common is becoming rare due to intensive poaching by habitual hunters like ‘Narikuravars’.
INDIAN WILD DOG (Cuon alpinus)
The IUCN categorized wild dog as Vulnerable (VU) species. It is placed in the Appendix of the CITES and so the trade of this animal is strictly prohibited internationally. The hunting and poaching of Wild dog is strictly prohibited and it is placed in the Schedule I of Indian Wildlife Protection 1972. Wilddogs are commonly seen in almost all areas of the Tiger Reserve.
THE INDIAN ELEPHANT (Elephas maximus)
The estimated Elephant population in Sathyamangalam is approximately 350 to 450. The area connects with other protected areas namely Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and Nilgiri Eastern Slope Reserve Forests. Man-elephant conflict is high in certain areas of the Tiger Reserve like Bhavanisagar, Talawady, etc.
GAUR (Bos gaurus)
A good population is found in Bhavanisagar range. Poaching, loss of habitats, grazing and diseases are conservation threats. Gaur is normally seen in the dense jungles of Sathyamangalam forests.
BLACKBUCK (Antelope cervicapra)
There are about 800 to 900 Blackbucks recorded in the region. There is a good population of black-buck in Bhavanisagar Range and Thalavadi Range of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve.
FOUR HORNED ANTELOPE (Tetracerus quadricornis)
The four-horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis) is a small antelope, standing 65 cm at shoulder. It is one among the tropical Indian antelopes that lives in undulating or hilly terrain. A scientific study of this species in the then, Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary revealed that around 100 animals are found in the savannah forests of Thalavadi and Talamalai forests.
SAMBAR (Cervus unicolor)
Sambar is the largest Indian deer and carries the grandest horns; height at shoulder is nearly 150 cm average about 140 cm. A good population is found in the Tiger Reserve areas.
SPOTTED DEER (Axis axis)
A well-built Spotted deer stands 90 cm at the shoulders and weights about 85 kg the record head measures 101 cm 85 cm antler would be good anywhere, 80 cm in South India. Good population is fairly common in Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, especially Bhavanisagar and Sathyamangalam Ranges.
BARKING DEER (Muntiacus muntjak)
It is commonly encountered in Talamalai forest and other dense jungles. It is a very shy and cryptic deer, occurring singly or as pair.
MOUSE-DEER (Tragulus meminna)
Mouse deer is seen rarely in Gettavadi, Talamalai and Hasanur areas. A detailed study is required to know about its distribution and habitat preferences.
THE INDIAN WILD BOAR (Sus scrofa)
Wildboar is ubiquitous in all areas and it is a big menace to the farmers of Sathyamangalam.
INDIAN PANGOLIN (Manis crossicaudata)
The most distinctive character of pangolin is its armour of protecting scales. Though, terrestrial in habit, pangolins climbs well easily. They are often seen in trees probably in quest of trees ants. They climb somewhat like bears and grip a bough tightly with the forelimbs and claws, and if need be with a curl of the tail. This species is distributed in the dry parts of the Tiger Reserve.
INDIAN HARE: (Lepus nigricollis)
Black-napped hares are commonly sighted in open areas. They can be best seen during night hours along the roads and are usually dazed by the beam of headlights.
THE INDIAN PORCUPINE (Hystrix indica)
It is commonly seen in many parts of the region.
Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve has got a wide variety of birds. This also includes rare birds like Painted Sand Grouse; White backed Vulture, Brown fish owl and a variety of woodpeckers. Hornbills play an important role in dispersal of seeds. Malabar whistling thrush, Peacock and Jungle fowl are the common bird species found in Sathyamangalam. In the recent bird census, 225 birds are identified in the Sathyamangalam forests. A check-list of bird species found in this reserve is updated for reference.
The Tiger Reserve area is also known for wide variety of common and rare butterfly species. More than 85 species of butterflies are recorded and the check list is available in the website for reference.
Reptiles and Amphibians
Though a large variety of Reptiles and Amphibians are noted in the Tiger Reserve area, documentation is not available for the same.
It is now being done under a Biodiversity Project and will be available soon.
Geology, Rock and Soil
The rock types of the Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary mainly belong to the great gneissic series of pre-Cambrian age. The common metamorphic derivatives found in the sanctuary are metamorphosed sedimentary rocks such as quartzite, hornblende, amphibolites, pyroxenites and Pyroxene. The quartzite consists of quarts with small amount of sericite and faschite nicaad feldspar. If magnesite forms an accessory, the rocks acquire reddish tinge (east of Sathyamangalam). The amphibolites and hornblende are dark coloured and occurs in the north east of sathyamangalam. Metamorphic igneous rock types such as biotic gneiss charnookites and granite gneiss have widespread occurrence. The charnoctices were bluish with grenary look and the most widespread in the hilly forests. The biotic gneiss comprises the narrow forest lands adjacent to slopes of hills overlooking the plains. The minerals found in the sanctuary are; feldspar, quartzite, magnetite, garnet, kynite.
The Soil is a dynamic layer of surface material which is constantly changing and developing under process of adjustment to condition of climate, parent material, topography, and vegetation. Soils are made up of substances existing in solid, liquid, and gaseous states. With colloidal particles of organic and inorganic origin playing an important function in their makeup and activity. The physical properties of soils often acquire greater importance than the chemical ones. In majority of the cases the chemical fertility may be adequate but the growth of trees differs widely in accordance with the physical nature of the soil.
The common soil types of the sanctuary are red soils, laterite soils, black cotton soils, and alluvial soils.
Soil texture refers to the relative proportion of particles of various sizes. The usual classification is given below:
Course sand: 2- 0.2 mm diameter; Fine Sand: 0.2 – 0.02 mm; Silt: 0.02-0.002 mm; Clay: < 0.002 mm
The terrain is gently undulated in the Moyar Valley with elevation ranges from 960m to 1266m in the Bhavanisagar, Sathyamangalam Range, Talavadi, Talamalai and Hasanur Ranges. The western part of the sanctuary is almost flat.
Climate and Hydrology
Generally, the plateau region enjoys a mild and equitable climate favourable to vegetation and in particular to sandal trees. The slopes and plains are subjected to hot and dry climate. The average minimum and maximum temperatures are; 21.54o C and 27.02o C in the plateau and the average minimum and maximum temperatures are 26.24 0 c and 32. 84oC in the plains. Thus, the climate of the Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary is moderate. There is a rainfall gradient from east to west of the sanctuary. The eastern part of the sanctuary falls on the leeward side of the Western Ghats; hence this part receives low rainfall.
The Plateau forests are subjected to strong and gusty winds blowing from south westerly direction, during the south west monsoon, period of June to September. As the wind is mostly dry, it only hastens the process of evaporation. In May thunder storms with the occasional cloud bursts are common in the plateau.
The average annual rainfall of the sanctuary over a ten year period is 824 mm. But considerable variation could be noticed from place to place. Though the sanctuary lies in the rain shadow region, the bulk of the rain fall is derived (70%) from the north east monsoon during September, October and November. The period from January to April is usually dry, though occasional showers may occur. From May onwards, intermittent rains occur till August. Rain increases slightly between August and September and becomes heavy during October-December and tapers off in January.
Lack of water and green fodder to wild animals are the major limiting factors with regard to severity of dryness in Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary. As mentioned earlier this sanctuary lies in the rain shadow region, and only limited water is available in all seasonal waterholes for animals. During the months of March and April water is available only in perennial streams such as Moyar and all the seasonal waterholes and streams dried up. This drought period also coincides with accumulation dry leaf litter and fire.
There are two perennial Rivers in the Sanctuary, namely a) River Bhavani and b) River Moyar.
It originates from western catchments of Nilgiris, running through Kerala and again enters Tamil Nadu. This river runs through Coimbatore Division and enters into Sathyamangalam Forests in Bhavanisagar Range. Till it reaches Bhavanisagar dam, it runs along the sanctuary area. This is the main source of drinking water to the wildlife, especially elephants.
It is another perennial river, which also originates from Nilgiris and runs through sanctuary area and finally flow into Bhavanisagar reservoir.
Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve has got two divisions; Sathyamangalam and Hasanur with head quarters at Sathyamangalam and Hasanur.
It is headed by a Field Director with his head quarters at Erode.
The Tiger Reserve has 7 Territorial Ranges at Sathyamangalam, Bhavani Sagar, T.N.Palayam, Talamalai, Hasanur, Germalam & Talawady.
Mr. I. Anwardeen, IFS
Conservator of Forests & Field Director
Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve
Roja Nagar, Veerappan Chathiram
Erode, Tamil Nadu
Mr. K. Rajkumar, IFS
DFO & Deputy Director
Sathyamangalam 638 402
Ms. C.H. Padma, IFS
DFO & Deputy Director
Hassanur itself draws people from foothills because of its hill station weather. Places of visit other than the wilderness areas are Bhavanisagar Dam, Bannari Amman Temple, Perumpallam Dam, Gunderi pallam Dam and many other famous temples inside forests which causes disturbance during the festival season inspite of regulations. July to November is the best season to visit. Forest Rest Houses with 2 suites each are available at Sathyamangalam, Kadambur, Talamalai, Hassanur, Chikkalli and Jeerahalli which will be allowed with regulations to public after the Eco Tourism is declared open.
These forests are home to indigenous tribal people belonging largely to the Irula tribe (also known as the Urali) and, Soliga communities. In late 2011, Forest Department officials were studying the cattle and human population in the area. There are seven forest settlements and 12 revenue settlements inside the area. In 2012, Data collection is nearly complete and officials will soon conduct aproject stakeholders meeting with the participation of residents from these settlements
The forests were also the home of the legendary Indian bandit leader, kidnapper and murderer Koose Muniswamy Veerapan, who made a living poaching ivory and sandalwood from the forests and selling them on the black market. Veerapan was killed by police in October 2004.
National Highway NH 209 connecting Dindigul in Tamil Nadu and Bengaluru in Karnataka passes through Sathyamangalam and STR forests. It passes through a hilly terrain and has to negotiate 27 hairpin bends. The State Highway 15 connects Erode via Gobichettipalayam, Sathyamangalam & Mettupalayam. The State Highway 82 connects Sathyamangalam with Bhavani.
Tourists can drive through these forests, starting from Sathyamangalam and traveling towards Bannari, Bhavani Sagar, Germalam, Hasanur and/or Thalavadi. Alternatively one may travel from Sathyamangalam to K N Palayam and Kadambur or T.N. Palayam.
Accommodation is available at Government Guest House, Hasanur and cottages at Dhimbham. There are famous temples around sanctuary including Arulmigu Bannari Mari Amman Temple at Bannari, at the foot hills itself, and Kongalli Temple in the Thalavadi Range which is deep inside the forests.
By Air: Coimbatore (100 km) is the closest international landing strip.
By Rail: The Erode (80 km) line station is the closest however on the other hand; one could likewise touch base at Coimbatore route station and travel from that point.
By Road: There is an exceptional system of national and state expressways around the Sathyamangalam Sanctuary. The Erode – Gobichettipalayam state interstate passes through the haven, you can reach Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary.