The Amazing Nilgiris

The Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve

One Earth Foundation students study group in the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve

The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is an International Biosphere Reserve in the Western Ghats, Nilgiri Hills range of South India. The Western Ghats, Nilgiri Sub-Cluster (6,000+ km²), conjoining the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site. The reserve encompasses 5,520 km² in the states of Karnataka (1527.4 km²), Kerala (1455.4 km²), and Tamil Nadu (2537.6 km²). The Biosphere lies between 11o 36′ to 12o 00′ N Latitude and 76o 00′ to 77o 15′ E Longitude. Central location: 11°30?N, 76°37.5′?E

The Mudumalai WL Sanctuary and National Park (321.1 km²), Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary( 344km²), Bandipur National Park(874km²), Nagarhole National Park (643 km²), Nugu WLS, Mukurthi National Park (78 km²) and Silent Valley National Park (89.52km²) are protected areas within this reserve. The Bio-sphere Reserve also includes zones of The Nilgiris open to forestry and tourism including: Nilgiris District (North (448.3 km²) and Nilgiris District South (198.8 km²)), Erode District (Sathyamangalam forest (745.9km²) and Erode(49.3 km²)) and Coimbatore District (696.2 km²) in Tamil Nadu.

The reserve extends from the tropical moist forests of the windward western slopes of the Ghats to the tropical dry forests on the leeward east slopes. Rainfall ranges from 500 mm to 7000 mm per year. The reserve encompasses three eco-regions, the South Western Ghats moist deciduous forests, South Western Ghats montane rain forests, and South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests. The habitat types include montane rain forest, semi-evergreen moist forest, thorn forest and scrub, montane grassland, and high-elevation Shola forests.
Fauna:   Fauna includes over 100 species of mammals, 350 species of birds, 80 species of reptiles; about 39 species of fish, 31 amphibians, 60 species of reptiles, 316 species of butterflies and innumerable invertebrates. Rare animals include the tiger, Asian Elephant, and Nilgiri Tahr.
Flora::  The reserve has very rich plant diversity. Of 3300 species, 1232 are endemic. The genus Baeolepis is exclusively endemic to the NBR. Other plants entirely restricted to the NBR Reserve include species of Adenoon, Calacanthus, Baeolepis, Frerea, Jarodina, Wagotea and Poeciloneuron. Of the 175 species of orchids found here, 8 are endemic. These include endangered species of Vanda, Liparis, Bulbophyllum, Spiranthes and Thrixspermum.


(One Earth Foundation acknowledges with thanks the contribution of photographs by Prof. C. R. Jayaprakash, Shri Rajesh, Shri bhupati, V. Godwin and others.)