Eravikulam National Park
Best time to visit :
November to April
Nearest Airport : Kochi (143km)
Nearest Railway Station : Kochi (143km), Munnar (16km)
¤ Eravikulam Nestles At The Summit of Annamalai Range
dense forests and grasslands at the crest of the Annamalai Range, form
the Eravikulam National Park. Established in 1978, it stretches to
engulf the spectacular Anai Mudi Peak
that dramatically rises above its surroundings. Anamudi is the highest
mountain in the country outside of the Himalayan Range.
The Peak is also home to the largest population of the beautiful and
frisky Nilgiri thar.
This mountain goat is closely related to the ibex found in the icy
reaches of Ladakh and Tibet. In the afternoons, the Nilgiri thar
retreats into the sholas, or the rain forests, and comes out in the
evenings for fresh crunchy grass.
The reserve came up in 1978, when the Nilgiri thar was on the brink
of extinction. The recovery in the number of the Nilgiri thars, is
perhaps one of the biggest success stories of rescuing a species.
Perhaps this is due to the highly fecund capability of the female that
can deliver quite a number of young ones in a lifetime.
The Nilgiri thar shares the park with the elephant, lion-tailed
macaque, tiger, leopard, Nilgiri langur, Malabar giant squirrel, gaur,
dhole (wild dog), sambar and the barking deer.
¤ The Attraction of Lion-tailed Macaque
Half of the total 4000 Lion-tailed macaque population dwells in the
higher reaches of the rain forests of Eravikulam National Park in
Kerala. However, their total population is estimated to be a little
less than a 1000. These dark animals are easily distinguished by their
fair, mane-like growth encircling the face, and the hairy tuft at the
end of their tails, which gives them their name.
The appearance of the Lion-tailed macaque gives them a rather
philosophic and wise aura.
They live in groups of 15 to 35 members, with about 5 to 10 females
in each group, and usually occupy a range of 1.5 to 5sq km of rain
forest area. Each group is led by a dominant male, who mates with the
receptive females of the group. The females give birth only once in 3
years, and not more than an average of 4 times in a life span.
¤ Eating Habits of Macaques
Unlike other macaques, the Lion-tail can digest carbohydrates and
sugar, but not leaves. Its diet consists of fruits, mushrooms, lichen,
moss, eggs, small birds and mammals, and insects such as spiders,
snails, lizards, caterpillars, termites; all of which are found
aplenty in the rain forests.
Perhaps, this explains why this striking creature survives only in
the rain forests. The reserve provides a secure refuge to this shy and
stately being whose habitat is severely threatened by encroachments
intended to make way for tea and coffee plantations, amongst other
things. The Lion-tailed macaque is also hunted for the supposed
aphrodisiac qualities contained in some organs of its body.