Periyar National Park is the most famous protected area of entire south India. Set amidst the hills of Western Ghats along the border with Tamil Nadu, Periyar National Park is located within Idukki and Pathanamthitta district of Kerala state in India. The park surrounds the picturesque 26 Sq, Km Periyar Lake which was formed by building of Malluperiyar Dam on Periyar River. The reservoir and the Periyar River meander around the wooded hills of the park, providing permanent source of water for the local wildlife. Periyar National Park not only famous for its rich wildlife, but also appreciated worldwide for its scintillating landscape. From the 925 Sq.Km. of protected jungle 350 Sq. Km. of core area was declared as National Park in the year 1982. Uniqueness of this National park is that, at the same time it is under Tiger Reserve and Elephant Reserve. Topography of the park represent by lash green hills and high plateau. Numerous small streams pass through the park area. Approximately 75% of the entire protected area of Periyar is covered by uninterrupted evergreen or semi evergreen Rain Forest. Periyar is an example of Nature’s bounty with great scenic charm. Periyar National Park situated in the watershed of river Periyar and Pamba is a repository of rare, endemic and endangered species of flora and fauna found in southern India.
Flora and Fauna:
Flora of the Periyar National Park is mostly consists of evergreen or semi evergreen forest. Nearly 2000 species of plants are recorded from the park area. 170 species of ferns and 145 species of orchids are found in the forest. The reservoirs and rivers of Periyar also hosts numerous aquatic plant species. Some of the tropical tree species found in the park are Vateria indica, Cullenia exarillata, Hopea parviflora, Canarium strictum, Bischofia javanica etc. out of all recorded plant species 320 species os plants have high medicinal value.
Total 62 species of mammals have been recorded from the Periyar National Park. There are an estimated 53 tigers present in this tiger reserve. But Periyar is most famous for its Elephant population of around 1000 individuals. Bank of Periyar Lake is the most common spot to get the herd of playful elephants. Leopards, Wild Dogs or Dhole, Indian Fox and Jackals are the prime carnivores species found in the park. Major herbivores species found here are represented by Gaur, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Barking Deer and Mouse Deer and elusive Nilgiri Tahr. Four species of primates – Lion-tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Langur, Common Langur and Bonnet Macaque are resident of the park. Other notable mammalian species found in the Periyar National Park are Leopard Cat, Jungle Cat, Fishing Cat, Rusty Spotted Cat, Slender Loris, Black Napped Hare, Small Indian Civet, Smooth Coated Otter, Common Otter, Giant Flying Squirrel, Travancore Flying Squirrel, Nilgiri Marten, Indian Pangolin, Porcupine etc.
More than 300 species of birds are recorded from the Periyar National Park. Some of the most sought after bird species found in the park are Red Spurfowl, Black Stork, Western Reef Egret, Pacific Reef Egret, Red-necked Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Black Baza, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Pied Harrier, Western Marsh Harrier, Egyptian Vulture, Red-headed Vulture, Bonelli’s Eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Baillon’s Crake, Wood Snipe, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Malabar Parakeet, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Tawny Fish Own, Short-eared Owl, Brown Hawk Owl, Sri Lankan Frogmouth, Malabar Trogon, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Great Hornbill, Northern Wryneck, Speckled Piculet, Brown-capped Woodpecker, Indian Pitta, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Indian Blue Robin and Nilgiri Flycatcher.
45 species of reptiles are recorded from the Periyar National Park area, out of which 30 are snake including King Cobra. 2 species of Turtle and 13 species of lizard are also among them. 38 species of fish also recorded from the park, of which 4 are endemic to Western Ghats.
160 species of Butterfly is also recorded from the Periyar National Park.