Tourist Places - Sanctuaries
Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve Wild Life Sanctuary :
The Mundanthurai-Kalakad wildlife sanctuary in Tirunelveli district is developed as a National Tiger Reserve from the year 1988 with a total area of 817 sq. km in the south most western ghat ranges. The nearest stations are Cheranmahadevi, and Ambasamudaram which are 20kms and 15 kms respectively from Tirunelveli. The nearest airports are Madurai and Trivandrum. One can reach this place by road also from Ambasamudaram and Kalakad. Frequent buses are plying from Ambasamudaram and Kalakad to this place. Out of 817 sq. kms.459 sq.kms is in core zone and 358 sq.kms. is in buffer zone.
The mountainous undulating to topography is the characteristic feature leading to tropical dry deciduous forest on the lower slopes and tropical wet evergreen forests on the upper reaches.
The climate is dry humid and hot at plains and pleasant cold in the higher elevations. The reserve is the southernmost habitat of the tiger. Other predators like panthers, jungle cats, civets, dholes, jackals, striped hyenas are also found here.
India is the home of 18 non-human primate species of which five primates occur in this reserve namely lion-tailed macque, slender loris, Nilgiri langur common langur and bonnet macaque. Other endangered species found here are Nilgiri tahr, sloth bear, Indian bison, Indian elephant, Malabar giant squirrel, mouse deer, pangolin etc. In addition to that sambar wild boar, spotted deer, porcupine and mangooses are also found here.
We can also come across reptiles and amphibians like king cobra, common krait, russels, viper, darkpit viper, monitor lizard, garden lizard, tortoise, crocodiles and rare species of frogs. Regarding avifauna there are more than 80 species of birds found in this region. To mention a few spotted frequently here are egrets, herons, jungle fowl, spurfowl, partridge, quails, emerald dove, minivets, bee caters, sparrows, owls, night jars, kites, paradise flay catchers, and parakeets etc.
There are 24 identified nature trails which is spread over the reserve. It gives a thrilling experience to trekkers. This Tiger Reserve is open on all days between 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the year. However the best season is September to January. Forest Rest Houses and dormitories are available at Mundanthurai and Thalayanai.
Birds Sanctuary at Koonthankulam :
Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary or Kunthankulam is a 1.2933 km2 (0.4993 sq mi) protected area declared as a sanctuary in 1994. It adjoins the tiny village of Koonthankulam in NanguISKY TECHIES Pvt. Ltd. Taluk of Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu, India. It is just 38 km away from Tirunelveli (a bustling town on the banks of the Tambaraparani River). 8.58102°N 77.76123°E It is composed of Koonthankulam and Kadankulam irrigation tanks, conveniently linked by tar road. This is the largest reserve for breeding water birds in South India. International name: Kunthangulam Bird Sanctuary.
A tiny village in the far south, Koonthankulam in NanguISKY TECHIES Pvt. Ltd. Taluk of Tirunelveli District is emerging as a new favourite of the migratory birds. It is just 38 Kms. away from Tirunelveli and is in the nearby NanguISKY TECHIES Pvt. Ltd. Taluk. It may soon be catapulted into the list of popular water bird sanctuaries in the country. This village is sparsely populated. Migratory birds start coming by December end and fly away to their northern homes by June or July after they lay eggs, hatch them and the young ones grow old enough to fly with the older ones. About 35 species of birds visit this calm but congenial village for breeding.
The birds called Painted strokes are coming from North India and East European Countries to this place. Similarly the flamingoes which flew in mainly from the Rann of Kutch have hatched and reared their young ones in the village.
The birds coming to their backyards for five generations are protected vehemently by villagers and regarded as harbingers of luck. The excreta of birds –‘guano’ is collected by villagers in summer along with silt to use as fertilizer in their fields. From children to grannies in the village all protect them, their nests and fledgelings. Chicks fallen are taken care of in the rescue centre till they are able to fly on their own. Anybody troubling the nests are punished inn their own methods of shaving the head, or making the procession on donkey.