Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary


After the construction of the Dam at Neyyar, the catchment area of the Reservoir was declared as a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1958. The River Neyyar originates from the Agasthyamalai peak, which the legends say is the home of sage ‘Agasthya’. The water in Neyyar is therefore considered as Ghee and hence the name ‘Neyyar’. The Sanctuary falls between 80 17’ and 853’N latitude and 7640’ and 7717’E longitude and is located in the Kerala state, Thiruvananthapuram district. It was notified as a Wildlife sanctuary in 1958 as per Notification No. G.O(MS)871/58/AD dated 06.08.1958. The boundaries were subsequently modified vide GO No.2305/F2/71/AD dated 18.03.1971 by adding Neyyar Reservoir area also as a part of the sanctuary. The area was previously part of Thiruvananthapuram Forest Division up to 1982. During 1982, a separate Wildlife Division was formed with Headquarters at Thiruvananthapuram for better and effective management of the sanctuary. Neyyar, with an extent of 128sq.km is one of the two wildlife sanctuaries under Thiruvananthapuram Wildlife Division, the other being Peppara wildlife sanctuary. Another Range having 32sq.km area namely the Agasthyavanam Biological Park is sandwiched between these two sanctuaries, which also fall under the administrative control of the Thiruvananthapuram Wildlife Division.
The Sanctuary is located on the western slopes of the Southern Western Ghats along the southeast corner of Kerala in Neyyattinkara taluk of Thiruvananthapuram district. The Headquarters of the sanctuary is at Neyyar. The nearest Railway Station is Thiruvananthapuram which is 33 Kms away from the sanctuary. The nearest Airport is Thiruvananthapuram International Airport which is 43 Kms away, and the nearest Bus Station is Kattakkada which is 11 Kms away from the sanctuary. Frequent buses operate between Kattakada and Neyyar Dam.
Flora and Vegetation- Due to varied climatic and topographic conditions, the Sanctuary represents very remarkable diversity in vegetation. The floral diversity is very high with a relatively high percentage of endemism. It is estimated that nearly 1000 species of flowering plants are seen in the sanctuary. 12% of the identified plants are endemic to the region, many of which are endangered. Yet another noteworthy feature of the vegetation is the preponderance of orchids. About 125 species of orchids have been recorded from the sanctuary. The sanctuary is home to several rare, endemic and threatened plants such as Bentinckia condapanna, Poeciloneuron pauciflorum, Humboldtia unijuga, Eugenia floccose, Eugenia discifera, Ardisia missionis, Eria bonaccordensis, Janakia arayalpatra, Dialium travancorium, Semecarpus auriculata, Polyscias acuminata, Paphiopedilum druryi, Eulophia macrostachya, Eulophia cullenii, Hetaria ovalifolia, Chiloschista glandulosa. Vegetation of the area could be classified into:

    Southern hilltop tropical evergreen forests

   West coast tropical evergreen forest

   West coast tropical semi evergreen forest

   Pioneer euphorbiaceous scrub

   Moist bamboo brakes

   Southern secondary moist mixed deciduous forest

   Myristica swamp forest

   Sub montane hill valley swamp forest

   Riparian forest

   Grasslands

   Southern subtropical hill forest

    Ochlandra reed brakes

    Bentinckia condapanna brakes.

Fauna- Faunal diversity is considered to be a strong indicator of health of any ecosystem. An area of 128sq.km of sanctuary lying continuous with the Peppara wildlife sanctuary and Agasthyavanam biological park on the north and the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve on the east offers ideal habitat for the long term survival of several species of wildlife. The reservoir formed by the Neyyar Dam is the major source of water for the animals and habitat for several water birds.

  • Neyyar wildlife Sanctuary is home to 217 species of birds, 109 species of butterflies, 46 species of reptiles, 43 species of mammals, 27 species of fishes and 13 species of amphibians. Major Mammals include Tiger, Leopard, Sloth bear, Dhole, Elephant, Gaur, Nilgiri tahr, Barking deer, Sambar deer, Mouse deer, Wild boar, Pangolin, Slender loris, Lion tailed macaque, Bonnet macaque, Nilgiri langur, Nilgiri marten, Smooth coated otter, Toddy cat, Small Indian civet, Jungle cat, Leopard cat, Malabar giant squirrel, Flying squirrel, Mongoose, Porcupine, Sloth bear, Hare, etc.  The recent frequent sightings of tiger in the sanctuary in 2010 is a strong indicator of the prey base and quality of habitat. The Nilgiri tahr population in the sanctuary is showing an increasing trend. 58 animals were sighted at Varayattumudi in 2001 (Abraham.et.al,2006). 60 animals were sighted later on in 2010 (D.Sandeep). V. Sharon (2010) in his ‘survey on isolated populations of Nilgiri tahr in kerala’ recorded a total of 76 animals and estimated the population here to be around 100-125. The large extent of grasslands, cliffs, inaccessibility and lack of disturbance is the major reason for the healthy number of nilgiri tahr in the sanctuary. Better monitoring & strict protection of the region together with controlled burning of grasslands before the onset of summer is essential for the long term survival of the species(Sharon,2010). Jayakumar Sharma P.K, Wildlife Warden observed a tiger kill at Valliyar during July 2011 which established the presence of Tiger in the sanctuary which was later confirmed by camera trap set up at Athirumala by Nixon, a member of WII during January 2012.
  • Among the 43 species of reptiles recorded, 23 species were snakes like python, king cobra, common cobra, common krait, Russell’s viper, rat snake, pit vipers, green whip snake, Bibran’s coral snake, common keel back, etc.  Beside snakes, terrapins like Indian flap shell turtle, Travancore tortoise; geckos like house gecko, bark gecko, rock gecko, etc were also recorded.  Indian monitor lizard, which breeds during October- January, is highly sought after by the tribals for meat and eggs.  Some species of skinks and ichthyophis are used as fish bait by the tribals.  Among other mammals fruit bats are also hunted for meat by the Kani tribes.
  • Of the 217 bird species recorded, important sightings include painted bush quail, Indian great backed wood pecker, three-toed king fisher, blue-eared king fisher, blue bearded bee eater, red-winged crested cuckoo, forest eagle owl, brown wood owl, grey- headed fishing eagle, great-eared nightjar, Japanese buzzard, tiger bittern, hair crested drongo, Nilgiri wood pigeon, orange-breasted green pigeon, Nilgiri thrush, white-bellied short wing, black and orange flycatcher, Malabar shama, Indian cliff swallow, black-crested baza, eastern grasshopper warbler, white-bellied blue flycatcher, Kerala laughing thrush, South Travancore laughing thrush, etc.
  • 13 species of amphibians were reported from the sanctuary.  Species like common Indian toad, Indian bull frog, green pond frog, Jerdon’s bull frog, Beddome’s leaping frog, Indian tree frog, Malabar tree frog, Ichthyophis sp, etc were the common ones. In addition to this, the following species of fishes such as Tilopia, Catfish, Eel, Murrel, Organe Chromid etc are seen in the reservoir. During the period of 1990-2000, the Fisheries Department released species such as Catla, Rohu, Mrigal, Srasscarp, Silver Carp, etc into the reservoir.

 

 


Sl.No Post Strength Present incumbent
1 Asst.Wildlife Warden 1 P. Satheesan (in charge)
2 Wildlife Assistant 1
3 Section Forest Officer 6
4 Beat Forest Officer 12
5 Reserve Watcher 2
6 Senior Clerk 1
7 Driver 2
8 Office Attendant 1
9 Part time sweeper 1
10 Boat Driver 2
11 Watcher cum cook(IB) 1

 

 

 
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