An ecological reconnaissance of the proposed Jawahar National Park

Sathis Chandran Nair, S. ; Vijayakumaran Nair, P. ; Sharatchandra, H. C. ; Gadgil, Madhav (1978) An ecological reconnaissance of the proposed Jawahar National Park Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 74 (3). pp. 401-435. ISSN 0006-6982

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The proposed Jawahar National Park embracing an area of 2000 sq. kms will comprise of the Bandipui and Nagarhole national parks (Kamataka) and Mudumalai (Tamilnadu) and Wynad (Kerala) wild life sanctuaries. It is one of the most extensive contiguous forested areas in Peninsular India, and probably harbours the largest population of the elephant in India. The undulating terrain lies at the trijunction of the Western Ghats, the Nilgiri hills and the Deccan plateau. Its natural vegetation is primarily of the moist deciduous and dry deciduous types, with patches of evergreen forest and scrub. This has been replaced in many parts by degraded scrub forest and by plantations and cultivation. The mammalian fauna includes the Indian elephant, gaur, sambar, chital, wild boar, mouse deer, black-naped hare, sloth bear, dhole, grey or hanuman langui and giant squirrel, occurring in good numbers, at least locally. Rarer species include the four-horned antelope, barking deer, panther, tiger, jackal and the striped hyena. In addition, the Nilgiri tahr, Nilgiri langur and liontailed macaque occurred in areas very close to this sanctuary complex until very recently. If the Brahmagiri sanctuary of Coorg were to be included within the Jawahar National Park, these species could be reintroduced there. Blackbuck could thrive in Masingudi area of Mudumalai. With these introductions, this sanctuary complex could harbour all the major South Indian mammals. It has a good population of peafowl locally, and crocodiles exist on Kuruwa islands close to the sanctuary, and in the river Nugu. This entire area was surveyed on foot by our team over three months during monsoon 1975. Our party mapped the areas of wild life concentration, and studied the various environmental factors affecting the wild life. The Kabini reservoir, along with the encroachments in the vested forest of Pulpally have drastically reduced the area of wild life habitat and have almost completely split the habitat into two, severing many traditional migration routes of the elephants. Plantations, and other disturbances have also sharply reduced the summer range of elephants in the forest in the Wynad areas. Most of the forest is subject to serious overgrazing by domestic cattle and forest fires in the dry months The cattle also bring in diseases like the rinderpest which almost wiped out the gaur population of this region in 1968 The forest depaitment is inadequately equipped to control poaching, and poaching of all animals ranging from tiger and elephant down to regular trapping of blacknaped hare and mouse deer is reported. We urge strong action on many fronts to conserve this finest of elephant forests in India.

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