Anaimalai Tiger Reserve

Anamalai Tiger Reserve, earlier known as Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park (IGWLS&NP) and previously as Anamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, is a protected area located in the Anaimalai Hills of Pollachi, Valparai and Udumalpet taluks of Coimbatore District and Tiruppur District, Tamil Nadu state, South India. The Tamil Nadu Environment and Forests Department by a notification dated 27 June 2007, declared an extent of 958.59 km2 that encompassed the erstwhile IGWLS&NP or Anamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, as Anamalai Tiger Reserve under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. According to the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Reserve presently includes a core area of 958.59 km2 and buffer/peripheral area of 521.28 km2 forming a total area of 1479.87 km2.

Etymology

The park is named after former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi who visited the park on 7 October 1961. The main tourist facilities are located in the northeast corner of the park at “Topslip”, so named because of the local 19th century practice of sliding timber logs down the hills from here.

Anaimalai Tiger Reserve

The Steering Committee of Project Tiger granted approval in principle to inclusion of Indira Gandhi WLS and NP under Project Tiger in 2005. IGWS was declared a Project Tiger sanctuary in 2008. Continuance of Project Tiger’ in Anamalai Tiger Reserve for FY 2010/11, at the cost of Rs. 23547,000, was approved by the National Tiger Conservation Authority on 31 August 2010.

This tiger reserve, together with the several other contiguous protected forest and grassland habitats, is the core of the Parambikulum-Indira Gandhi tiger habitat landscape complex, with tiger occupancy area of about 3,253 km2 (1,256 sq mi) and an estimated metapopulation of 34 (32 to 36) tigers.

Kozhikamudhi Elephant Camp

Elephants were earlier trained and used at Anamalai for timber operations till felling of trees was stopped in 1972. The elephant camp has become a popular public attraction since 1976. There are 20 kumki elephants at the Kozhikamudhi Elephant Camp in the IGWSNP. There are 13 tuskers (including three calves) and seven cow elephants. The names and ages of twelve of the working elephants are: Vijayalakshmi (58), Sarada (56), Nanjan (50), Kaleem (45), Paari (31), Kalpana (30), Venkatesh (28), Karthik (27), Bharani (25), Durga (13), Rajvardhan (11) and Suyambu (4)

Flora

The park is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna typical of the South Western Ghats. There are over 2000 species plants of which about 400 species are of prime medicinal value. The diverse topography and rainfall gradient allow a wide variety of vegetation comprising a mix of natural and man-made habitats. The former includes wet evergreen forest and semi-evergreen forest, montane shola-grassland, moist deciduous, dry deciduous, thorn forests and marshes. Tropical wet evergreen forest is found at an altitude of 600m to 1,600m.

Tropical montane forests occur at higher elevations and are interspersed with montane grasslands, forming the shola-grassland complex. Much of the original evergreen forest now contains introduced teak plantations. Bamboo stands and reeds occur in the natural forests. Tree cover is provided by Hopea parviflora, Mesua ferrea, Calophyllum tomentosum, Vateria indica, Cullenia excelsa and Mangifera indica, Machilus macrantha, Alstonia scholaris, Evodia meliaefolia, Ailanthus and Malabaricum and Eucalyptus grandis. The area is home to Podocarpus wallichianus, a rare South Indian species of conifer.