Photo courtesy of Kerala Tourism
Periyar Wildlife Reserve
Elephants, tigers, and sloth bears—oh, my! Set in Kerala’s Western Ghat region, along the Cardamom and Pandalam Hills, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as the Thekkady Sanctuary, has been protected land since the 1930s, and an official wildlife reserve since the 50s. Given its landscape, which stretches from deep river valleys and lush forests up to high plateaus and misty mountaintops, the preserve is home to a wide variety of flora, fauna, and wildlife. Most notable are the elephant and tiger population: estimated to number about 800 elephants, 24 Bengal tigers, and even a few white tigers. There are also over 35 species of mammals, from sloth bears to giant squirrels, 266 species of birds, 45 types of reptiles, and a wealth of amphibian and butterfly life. A lush landscape of tropical areas, dense forests, and diverse ecosystems provide home for them all, along with plant life like teak, mango, sandalwood, and banyan tress, and lily and orchid plants. The park is open all year (the months between October and June make the best time to visit), and the closest major cities are Madurai and Kochi (the former is about 87 miles away, the latter about 124 miles.)
By Sandra Ramani, AFAR Contributor
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