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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Anaimalai Tiger Reserve - of elephants, gaurs, tigers and hornbills

An event of days gone by...last December during my solo all india motorcycle journey...

Anaimalai tiger reserve, formerly known as Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary sits  astride the Anaimalai hills on the Tamil Nadu - Kerala border, just south of the Palakkad gap, in the Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu.


I had left my motorcycle at the Sethumadai check post as it was not allowed inside elephant/tiger territory and was given a lift till Top Slip by a group of college kids who were aboard a tempo traveller. As we neared the Top Slip check post of Anaimalai Tiger Reserve, I saw the world around me that was drenched in lovely green and the floating mist seemed to be playing games with it. I checked into the simple budget accommodation at Top Slip that I had booked earlier. The beauty about the Top slip accommodation is that it is in set right in the heart of the forest. Just sitting in the verandah of these buildings allows one to sight Gaurs, Elephants, deer, wild boar, nilgiri langaur (on the list of endangered animals), bonnet macaque, variety of birds and others in close distance. I personally got to see wild boars, gaurs, nilgiri langaurs, bonnet macaques, deer and a huge variety of birds. I was secretly hoping that the jumbo elephant would allow me a sighter, but to no avail.

During my stay here, I went on 2 half-day treks to either side of Top Slip with forest guides and other tourists. I had initially opted for the elephant safaris, but due to rains and poor visibility, elephant safaris were stopped and I had to opt for the next best option - trekking. The trekking path took us through dense bamboo jungles, evergreens and leech-ridden territory. The first trek, which one can class easy to medium took me to a watchtower, but due to the dense mist cover even during afternoon hours, I could not sight much wildlife apart from a large group of Nilgiri Langaurs and Common Langaurs. My second trek, which took me to the evergreen part of the tiger reserve was very eventful. I spotted the Great Pied Hornbill, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Paradise flycatcher and Wayanad laughing thrush only 20 minutes into the trek. As the sun was setting, we spotted the barking deer through its alarm call, but could not sight any predators. On our way back, we sighted a large group of gaurs that were grazing at a nearby flat land.


Apart from these organized treks, during my walks around the forest accommodation, I spotted a large family of gaurs, huge numbers of wild boar, a whole lot of spotted deer on the nearby grass landscape, loud groups of nilgiri langaurs, common langaur and the omnipresent bonnet macaques. The male gaur with their shiny dark brown coats and white socks are a treat to the eye. These striking beauties can grow up to 7-8 feet and weigh up to 2 tonnes.

During my stay here, I wasn't fortunate to sight the jumbo elephant or the predators (Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard, Panther). But, I guess that is enough and more reason to visit this very pretty and rich wildlife reserve .

To see India through the eyes of a motorcyclist's lens, visit the album below.
my solo all-india motorcycle journey


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