The Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary also a declared tiger reserve, lies on the northwestern side of the Nilgiri Hills (Blue Mountains), in Nilgiri District, about 150 kilometres (93 mi) north-west of Coimbatore city in Tamil Nadu. It shares its boundaries with the states of Karnataka and Kerala. The sanctuary is divided into five ranges – Masinagudi, Thepakadu, Mudumalai, Kargudi and Nellakota.
The protected area is home to several endangered and vulnerable species including Indian elephant, Bengal tiger, gaur and Indian leopard. There are at least 266 species of birds in the sanctuary, including critically endangered Indian white-rumped vulture and long-billed vulture.
A KSRTC Bus Journey through Muthumalai and Bandipur Forests – VIDEO
Video – Rahul Achakottil.
The Western Ghats Nilgiri Sub-Cluster of 6,000 square kilometres (2,300 sq mi), including all of Mudumalai National Park, is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site.
There are 48 tigers in the Nilgiri Reserve across which tigers are free to roam.
There are three main types of forest in the sanctuary: tropical moist deciduous occur in the western Benne Block, where rainfall is higher than in the other blocks. Tropical dry deciduous forest occurs in the middle and southern tropical dry thorn forests are in the east.
In addition there are patches of tropical semi-evergreen forest in the southwest and western part of Mudumalai. The annual rainfall there exceeds 2,000 mm (79 in). Tree species in this habitat include Casseria ovoides, Litsea mysorensis, Cinnamomum malabatrum and Olea dioca. Climbers including sneeze wort (Dregea volubilis), Gnetum ula and Entada scandens are also found in these semi-evergreen forests.
Moist bamboo brakes are found amidst dry deciduous, moist deciduous and semi-evergreen forests and along the fringes of riparian forests and swamps. There are two species of bamboo found in Mudumalai, the giant clumping bamboos: Bambusa (arundinacea) and Dendrocalamus strictus. Elephants and gaur eat both species of bamboo.
In all types of forest, a green strip of riparian forest is seen along the shore of dry seasonal and perennial streams. This type of forest remains green in all seasons. The plant species found here includes: Mangifera indica, Pongamia glabra, Terminalia arjuna, Syzygium cumini, Indian rosewood Dalbergia latifolia and the bamboos. Larger mammals such as elephant, gaur, sambar and tiger use riparian forest patches for feeding and resting.
This sanctuary is home to several species of wild relatives of cultivated plants including wild rice, wild ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, solanum, guava, mango and pepper that act as a reserve gene pool for the cultivated plants. In places mixed vegetation types are present. The deciduous trees shed their green leaves during the summer, and adopt a floral garb while the arrival of the monsoons hails fruits and tender greens.