Wildlife & Ecology

Coorg has four main types of vegetation. The Evergreen forests of the west and the Moist deciduous and Dry decicuous forests in the central and southern parts of the district. Isolated evergreen or shola forests are found nestled between the folds of the mountain slopes which are covered by grasslands.

It is no surprise that this green and verdant place has a bouquet of wild life sanctuaries. It has three wildlife sanctuaries, Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary, Talakaveri Wildlife Sanctuary and Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary and one national park, Nagarahole or Rajiv Gandhi National Park. Among these Pushpagiri is located in the northern part of Kodagu and has rare and endangered flora and fauna. In fact it has been designated as one of the important bird areas of the world. The rich Kadamakkal reserve forest is a part of the sanctuary. The name of the sanctuary, Pushpagiri, has been derived from the highest peak in the region. Kumaraparvat is another smaller peak. The sanctuary is surrounded by Bisle reserve forest and Kukke Subramanya forest ranges.

Wildlife Sanctuaries in Coorg

Sanctuary NameArea ( Sq kms )
Vegetation
Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary
92.65 km²
Evergreen and Semi-Evergreen
Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary
181.29 km²
Evergreen, Semi-Evergreen and Shola
Talacauvery Wildlife Sanctuary
105.01 km²
Tropical Evergreen

Source: Unesco World Heritage Center

National Park in Coorg

Sanctuary NameArea ( Sq kms )
Vegetation
Nagarhole ( Rajiv Gandhi ) National Park
644 km²
Tropical moist deciduous and Tropical dry deciduous

References:
1). John Seidensticker, Peter Jackson, Sarah Christie. 2006. Riding the Tiger: Tiger Conservation in Human-dominated Landscapes. p.115. Cambridge University Press, London.
2). John Terborgh, Carel Van Schaik, Lisa Davenport, Madhu Rao. 2002. Making Parks Work: Strategies for Preserving Tropical Nature. p.190. Island Press. Washington.

The more popular and well known wild life reserve is Nagarahole or Rajiv Gandhi National Park. It is home to the majestic Asiatic elephant and the fierce Indian tiger. Nagarahole is a part of the Nilgiri biosphere reserve. Once upon a time it used to be the hunting place for the Maharajas of Mysore & the Coorg Kings alike. A portion of the sanctuary lies in Mysore district. Now it is home to two of the most prestigious and important wildlife schemes – Project Elephant and Project Tiger.

The Nagarhole National Park gets its name from the Nagara Hole, which in the native language means Serpent River. The Nagar Hole winds through the lush greenery of the wilderness until it finally reaches the Kabini, which is the biggest river that drains the forest. A splendid lake was created to the south of Nagarhole National Park with the building of a dam, which also creates the boundary with the Bandipur Tiger Reserve.

Swampy areas known as hadlus are mixed together with the forests. These areas are dominated by green grass and are favorite grazing grounds to the several herbivores, such as the big herds of chital deer. The grass that spouts in the meadow attracts large numbers of gaur and elephants.

Herds of elephants make their way down to the park in the warmer months during the summer, which is a great time to see them inside of their element. In addition to the elephants, more than three hundred different species of birds have been spotted in the park, including rare species such as the Nilgiri Flycatcher, the White-cheeked Barbet and the Blue Face Malkhoa.

A visit to the Nagarahole national park is a must for any wildlife enthusiast. It is home to some of the wildest beasts like Tiger, Leopard, Wild Dog ( Dhole ), Jungle Cat, Striped Hyena and countless Jackals. Herbivores include Gaur, Axis Deer, Sambar, Mouse Deer, Four-horned Antelope, Wild Boar, Crested Porcupine and the Black-naped Hare. One can also witness primates trooping around while engaged in their monkey business. Common Langur and Bonnet Macaque are aplenty here. Other animals which can be spotted here are the Sloth Bear, Pangolin, Giant Squirrel, Flying Squirrel, Giant Fruit Bat and the elusive Slender Loris.

Bird lovers need not go away disappointed. One can find a large number of birds including some rare species in and around Nagarahole. The Yellow Browed Bulbul, Pacific Swallow, Grasshopper Warbler, Orphean Warbler and the Yellow Billed Babbler can all be seen in their magnificent and resplendent form. Many species of owls can be found here. The Short Eared and Oriental Scops Owl can be often seen after nightfall.

25 % of species found in India are present in Coorg.

The ecology of Coorg is varied and encompasses a wide variety of plant and animal species. Large timber trees such as teak, rosewood and Mathi (Terminalia tomentosa) can be found in dense and moist undergrowth. The drier areas have shorter trees like Dindalu (Anogeissus Latifolia), Flame of the Forest, Indian Laburnum and bamboo.

Kodagu which is a part of Western Ghats is an environmental “hot spot” because of its fragile environment. An awareness program called “Coorg – An Alternative Model” has been initiated to teach the locals about the fragile ecosystem and ways to manage and sustain development without damaging the environment.

The diversity of wildlife, Flora and fauna in Coorg can hardly be matched by any other place in India . The rain drenched forests and mountain ranges provide a unique ecosystem in which many species of birds, animals and plants find sustenance. The variety of animal and plant species is mindboggling and a treat for the wildlife connoisseurs and laymen alike.