Wildlife of Kerala

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This article relates to flora and fauna of the state of Kerala, south India.
A tiger from Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
Cattle egret at the Chirakkal Chira, Chirakkal, Kannur
Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary

Most of Kerala, whose native habitat consists of wet evergreen rainforests at lower elevations and highland deciduous and semi-evergreen forests in the east, is subject to a humid tropical climate. however, significant variations in terrain and elevation have resulted in a land whose biodiversity registers as among the world’s most significant.

Evergreen forests[edit]

Most of Kerala's significantly biodiverse tracts of wilderness lie in the evergreen forests of its easternmost districts;[1] coastal Kerala (along with portions of the east) mostly lies under cultivation and is home to comparatively little wildlife. Despite this, Kerala contains 9,400 km2 of natural forests. Out of the approximately 7,500 km2 of non-plantation forest cover, there are wild regions of tropical wet evergreen and semi-evergreen forests (lower and middle elevations — 3,470 km2), tropical moist and dry deciduous forests (mid-elevations — 4,100 km2 and 100 km2, respectively), and montane subtropical and temperate (shola) forests (highest elevations — 100 km2). Such forests together cover 24% of Kerala's landmass.[2] Kerala also hosts two of the world’s Ramsar Convention-listed wetlands: Lake Sasthamkotta and the Vembanad-Kol wetlands are noted as being wetlands of international importance.[citation needed] There are also numerous protected conservation areas, including 1455.4 km2 of the vast Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.[citation needed]

Figs (Ficus species) like this strangler fig are an important floral element and support many frugivores

Rain Forests[edit]

Eastern Kerala’s windward mountains shelter tropical moist forests and tropical dry forests which are generally characteristic of the wider Western Ghats: crowns of giant sonokeling (binomial nomenclature: Dalbergia latifolia — Indian rosewood), anjili (Artocarpus hirsuta), mullumurikku (Erythrina), Cassia, and other trees dominate the canopies of large tracts of virgin forest. Overall, Kerala's forests are home to more than 1,000 species of trees. Smaller flora include bamboo, wild black pepper (Piper nigrum), wild cardamom, the calamus rattan palm (Calamus rotang — a type of giant grass), and aromatic Vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides).[2]

Fauna of Kerala[edit]

In turn, the forests play host to such major fauna as the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), leopard (Panthera pardus), nilgiri tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius), and grizzled giant squirrel (Ratufa macroura).[2] More remote preserves, including Silent Valley National Park in the Kundali Hills, harbor endangered species such as the Lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus), Indian sloth bear (Melursus (Ursus) ursinus ursinus), and gaur (the so-called "Indian bison" — Bos gaurus). More common species include the Indian porcupine (Hystrix indica), chital (Axis axis), sambar (Cervus unicolor), gray langur, flying squirrel, swamp lynx (Felis chaus kutas), boar (Sus scrofa), a variety of catarrhine Old World monkey species, the gray wolf (Canis lupus), and the common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus).[3]

The king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)


Many reptiles, such as tree snake, green snake, king cobra, viper, python, and various turtles and crocodiles are to be found in Kerala — again, disproportionately in the east. Kerala has about 453 species of birds such as the Sri Lanka frogmouth (Batrachostomus moniliger), leaf picking bird, Oriental bay owl, large frugivores like the great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) and Indian grey hornbill, as well as the more widespread birds such as peafowl, Indian cormorant, jungle and hill mynas, the Oriental darter, black-hooded oriole, greater racket-tailed and black drongoes, bulbul (Pycnonotidae), species of kingfisher and woodpecker, jungle fowl, Alexandrine parakeets, and assorted ducks and migratory birds. Additionally, freshwater fish such as kadu (stinging catfishHeteropneustes fossilis)[4] and brackishwater species such as Choottachi (orange chromideEtroplus maculatus; valued as an aquarium specimen) also are native to Kerala's lakes and waterways.[5]

The Nilgiri tahr, spotted in the Eravikulam National Park in Idukki District


National park Area (km2) Year started
Eravikulam National Park 97 1978
Periyar National Park 350 1982
Silent Valley National Park 237. 52 1984
Anamudi Shola National Park 7.5 2003
Mathikettan Shola National Park 12.817 2003
Pambadum Shola National Park 1.318 2003
Biosphere Reserve Area (km2) Year started
Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve 1455.4 1986
Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve 1701 2002
Wildlife sanctuary Area (km2) Year started
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary 777 1950
Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary 128 1958
Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary 125 1958
Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary 344.44 1973
Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary 285 1973
Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary 70 1976
Thattekad Bird Sanctuary 25 1983
Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary 53 1983
Chimmony Wildlife sanctuary 85 1984
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary 90.44 1984
Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary 171 1984
Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary 55 1984
Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary 0.0274 2004
Kurinjimala Sanctuary 32 2006
Tiger reserve Area (km2) Year started
Periyar Tiger Reserve 925 1978
Parambikulam Tiger Reserve 648.50 1973

See also[edit]


  • Idukki is the district having more forest land in Kerala while Alappuzha have no forest land.


  1. ^ (Sreedharan 2004, p. 11).
  2. ^ a b c (Sreedharan 2004, p. 12).
  3. ^ (Sreedharan 2004, pp. 174–175).
  4. ^ (Sreedharan 2004, p. 163).
  5. ^ (Sreedharan 2004, pp. 164–165).
  6. ^ "Location and Extent". Retrieved 8 June 2012.