Blog-a-thon: Nilgiri Biosphere Reserves–The Mystery Unravels

This blog-a-thon submission comes from 12 year old Vikas Madhav.  Vikas writes about and photographs the Nilgiri Biosphere in Southern India.

I am more than proud that this is India’s first International Biosphere Reserve. It gives me an elated feeling and sense of pride when I think that I have visited some of the reserve forests and national parks that make up the Biosphere.  The places that I visited lie in three southern states in India–the Nilgiri Biosphere lies in the tri-state area of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka in Southern India.

Through my blog and photographs I believe that I can bring about awareness to the rest of the world and to people in India that this vital mass of land needs to be preserved and protected. Any further damage will not just cause a minor change but a disaster, not just to the Western Ghats region, but to the tri- states too, which is something one cannot imagine.
 Through my blog I will try to describe what is common and what is unique to each of these national parks, forest reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries. 

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The map shows the locations of each of these places

1.    Nagarhole National Park or Rajiv Gandhi National Park – (Karnataka State) is located 94 kilometers (58 mi) from Mysore in Karnataka in South India. Geographical Coordinates of its location – latitudes 12°15’37.69″E and longitudes 76°17’34.4″N. Many patches have been deforested so that wildlife can be seen by tourists in the boat safari. Threats to the national park come from large scale cutting of sandalwood and teak trees, and overgrazing of cattle. Timber smuggling, especially sandalwood smuggling, happens quite extensively here.
Tribal communities- The Jenu Kurubas and the Koragas are the primary inhabitants of this forest area. The government is restricting their entry inside the National park and forest due to multiple factors. The cattle which the tribal people own are the main cause of over grazing; this is one of the primary threats to the grasses of the greener pastures.

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This map was drawn by Vikas, the portion in green shows the Nilgiri Biosphere

Significant populations of the tribal community have adopted the civilized ways of life and have moved out of the forest in the last decade, thanks to relocation efforts by the Government of India and other NGOs operating in this region. For those still in the forest, health is one of the serious problems caused by unhygienic living conditions, lack of access to clean water, undernourishment, malnutrition and superstitious ways of life. Their food habits differ significantly from the civilized communities. They generally consume edible roots and tubers, while occasionally consuming wild animal meat as well.

2.  Wayanad Wild Life Sanctuary – (Kerala) – Is in the north-east of Kerala, which is in the southwest of India.  In its Northeast are Nagarhole and Bandipur of Karnataka and in the Southeast is Mudumalai situated in Tamil Nadu. Geographical Coordinates of its location: – 11°42’46.80″N 76°14’30.03″E.  Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is the second largest in the state of Kerala. The sanctuary is separated into two disconnected parts known as the Upper Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in the North and Lower Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in the South. The area in between the two parts was originally a forest region, but it is now occupied primarily by plantations.


vikas3.JPG3. Sathyamangalam-Tamil Nadu. Earlier this place was famous for
the wrong reason, as it was the hideout for an outlaw called Veerappan
Elephant movements in this corridor were the subject of one of the first
studies on the Asian Elephant. The highway runs on a pristine tropical
deciduous forest. Even though it’s a national highway one can find a
considerable amount of wildlife beside the road. Geographical
Coordinates of its location: – 11°31′00″N 77°15′00″E. A major National
highway, NH 209, connecting Coimbatore to Mysore via Sathyamangalam
passes through the forests. This route is best for vehicles from
Coimbatore, Erode bound for Bangalore, since it has less traffic
compared to NH 47 (via Salem).
One must be confident driving on hilly terrain, because the road has 27 hairpin bends, some of which are highly dangerous.

vikas4.JPGThe issue that is common to all the National Parks and wildlife
sanctuaries, with the exception of Silent Valley National Park, is the
presence of human activity, which ultimately leads to man vs. animal
conflicts. Examples of these types of interferences are:
1.    Settlement
2.    Uncontrolled overgrazing by cattle
3.    Poaching -   Nilgiri Langur, Tiger 
4.    Construction of dams for hydro electric power
5.    Forest land being used for agriculture  or plantations
6.    Deforestation
7.    Direct man vs. animal conflicts  – e.g.  Elephant vs. Man,  Leopard vs. livestock
8.    Exploiting  and disturbance caused in the name of tourism

Vikas Madhav

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