Neyyar, Peppara rich reservoirs of fauna: Forest survey

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher. Photo: Dr Anoop R

Thiruvananthapuram: The Neyyar and Peppara, major wildlife sanctuaries under the Trivandrum Wildlife Division, are rich reservoirs fauna, a survey conducted by the Kerala Forests and Wildlife Department and Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS) revealed.

The sanctuaries were surveyed for fauna after a gap of eight years as part of the faunal inventory preparation for the management plans of these critical wildlife areas.

The Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary topped the bird list with sightings of 174 species while Peppara had 171.

The state bird -- The Great Hornbill-- was also spotted in both sanctuaries abundantly.

Lesser Fish Eagle
Lesser Fish Eagle. Photo: Dr Anoop R

The rare Lesser Fish Eagle was recorded from the Neyyar reservoir.

The fastest bird -– The Peregrine (Shaheen) Falcon was yet another attraction from Neyyar.

Endemic birds like The Ashambu Sholakili, Blanford’s Laughing Thrush, Broad-tailed Grass Warbler, Travancore Long-billed Pipit and the Black and Orange Flycatcher was sighted in all the high-elevation camps in the region.

Other notable findings of the survey are The Black Baza, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Malabar Trogon, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Ruby-throated Bulbul, Black Bulbul, and the migratory Osprey.

Neyyar has 215 butterfly species in comparison with Peppara, which had 171 species.

Southern Birdwing
Southern Birdwing. Photo: Dr Kalesh

The Spotted Royal, Striated Five Ring, Short Banded Sailor, Blue Nawab, and Small Leopard were the top findings. Endemic butterflies like the Red Disc Bushbrown, Malabar Raven, Madras Ace, Tamil Dartlet, Nilgiri Tiger, Nilgiri Grass Yellow, Travancore Evening Brown and Malabar Rose were also recorded.

The Southern Birdwing was seen in all the camps in both the sanctuaries.

Nilgiri Four-ring
Nilgiri Four-ring. Photo: Dr Kalesh

The state butterfly – The Buddha Peacock -- was seen throughout the region in the lower elevations.

Other interesting records are of the Nilgiri Four Ring, Palni Four Ring, Maculate Lancer, Yellow Based Treeflitter, Vindhyan Bob, Small Palm bob, Purple spotted flitter and the Red Admiral.

The delegates also recorded 25 species of Odonates, 21 species of ants and 3 species of Cicadas.

Red Disc Bushbrown
Red Disc Bushbrown. Photo: Dr Kalesh

Besides experts from TNHS, KFRI Trichur, BSB, TNBS Coimbatore, ROAR Rajapalayam, Belvai Butterfly Garden and KOVAS Waynad took part in this scientific assessment, apart from 100 delegates and 60 forest staff.

The survey took place simultaneously in all the 20 basecamps spread across the Trivandrum Wildlife division covering the unique geographical segment of Agasthyamalais from Bonacaud in Peppara to Ananirathy in Neyyar.

The survey started on January 9 with the teams sent to the various basecamps. The formal survey was on Jan 10 and January 11.

Neyyar and Peppara also have a sizeable number of reptiles.

The sightings of the King Cobra at Peppara was notable.

A total of 25 species of reptiles and 15 species of Amphibians were also documented.

The survey team also came across the presence of Tigers, Leopards, Nilgiri Tahr, Elephants, Gaurs, Bear and Small mammals like the Malabar Spiny Dormouse.

The Forest department side was led by Wildlife Warden J R. Ani, Range officers Satheeshan and J. Suresh. The research team was led by Dr Kalesh.S, Jayakumar.K, Ramesh Iyer, Toms Augustine, Raphy K, Samkumar, Dr Anoop Rajamony, Dr Sam Chandran, SRK Ramaswamy, Sammilan Shetty, and the forest wildlife Assistant Aswathy Raj.