Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary
Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary, Kannur, Kerala 670674, India
A sanctuary which allows you to explore and learn about nature and wildlife.
Location of Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary
More about Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary
Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary in the slopes of the Western Ghat Mountains is located in south east part of Kannur District of Kerala State in Southern India. Headquartered in the town of Iritty, the sanctuary is continuous with the forests of Coorg in Karnataka State.
Formation of the sanctuary and its history
The Sanctuary was formed in 1984 by carving out areas from Odathode Malavaram Forest of Thalassery Special Division (32.64 square kilometres), a private vested forest taken over by the Government of Kerala and Kottiyoor Reserve Forest (22.36 square kilometres). The total combined area is 55 square kilometre. The sanctuary was a part of Wayanad Wildlife Division until 1998 after which it was started functioning as an independent wildlife sanctuary.
The sanctuary area falls in Aralam, Kelakam and Kottiyoor revenue villages and like many other sanctuaries in the region, it is divided in to core and buffer zones. There are presently three divisions to the sanctuary consisting of Narikkadavu, Aralam, Chavachi which unitedly forms the sanctuary of Aralam.
Climatic conditions in the sanctuary
Thanks to the huge amount of rain it receives yearly, the sanctuary is covered with tropical and semi evergreen forests. The total annual rainfall in the region seldom falls below 4,000 mm with maximum 5,052 mm and minimum 3,745 mm recorded for 9 years. In the higher reaches, the rainfall goes as high as over 6000 mm. Most of the rainfall is obtained during the southwest monsoon in June to September months.
The temperature in the sanctuary varies from 11 degree celcius in December to February to 40 degree celcius in March to May. Some parts of the sanctuary has its own micro climate due to high rainfall and peculiar soil conditions.
The highest peak in the sanctuary is Katti Betta, at a height of 1,145 meters above the sea level. The lowest point of the sanctuary sits at an altitude of 50 meters. Since the sanctuary has a slope towards the west, several mountain streams originate from it and unite to form the river Cheenkannippuzha (meaning Crocodile River), the main waterbody in the sanctuary. The river is a tributary of much larger Valapattanam River.
Wildlife and nature present
The Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a vast variety of flora and fauna endemic to the Western Ghats. Wild animals like elephant, gaur (Indian Bison), sambar (large Indian deer), spotted deer, barking deer, Nilgiri langur, Hanuman langur, Malabar giant squirrel etc can be seen here.
One of the unique feature of the sanctuary is the existence of five species of diurnal primates (primates that are active during the day and sleep at night) - Lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri Langur, Black Footed Grey Langur, Common Langur, Bonnet Macaques and one variety of nocturnal primate, the Malabar Slender Loris.
The sanctuary is a home to innumerable species of butterflies, reptiles and birds. 188 species of birds are found here including many which are considered endangered. Great Pied Hornbill, Malabar Grey Hornbill, the Blue Winged Parakeet, Ceylon Frogmouth, Broad Billed Roller and Nilgiri Wood Pigeon are some of them. The sanctuary is home to 22 species of reptiles including the King Cobra,144 species of butterflies and 39 species of fish.
The plant life in the sanctuary consist of Teak and Eucalyptus trees covering over 1,200 acres of area within the protects forests. The tree life present in this part of the forest is one of a kind as they are reinforced at the base. The stem of the trees are clean, cylindrical and unbranched till two thirds of their height and generally spreads like an umbrella at the top.
Exploring the sanctuary
The entrance of the sanctuary is located at Valayamchal at the south west corner of the sanctuary. Vehicles can reach up to the entrance and from their the entry is restricted only to the permitted vehicles provided by the sanctuary administration.
The forests of the sanctuary takes a day to explore. There are safari’s daily which takes one through 14 km of forest through thick vegetations. Teak and Eucalyptus trees are found in abundance. Even though chances of spotting wild animals are low, at times you may stumble upon something interesting like Malabar Giant Squirrel or Flying Squirrel.
In addition to the regular day safaris through the park, there are multiple options for multi day trekking and nature camps available but you will need to contact the The Wildlife Warden at Aralam at +91 490 2493160 or +91 9447979101 to get more informations. For visitors who are travelling from a distance, there is a guest house and dormitory with very reasonable prices in the entrance of the sanctuary in Valayamchal. Some of the activities to look for at the sanctuary are as below.
The nature camps conducted by sanctuary
The nature camps are mainly done for students. The camps are very popular, roughly 60 two to three day camps are conducted yearly with an average of 40 participants in each camp. The students are educated about the nature, the wildlife and its conservation methods. The same camps can be conducted for non-students as well but with permission from the Warden and Chief Conservator of Forests.
Trek to Ambalappara and Meenmutty Falls
Ambalappara trek is a three day trek negotiating through tough terrains and deep forests. The trek is to a watch tower at Ambalappara, 25 kilometres away from the sanctuary entrance. The trek usually is accompanied by guides and will consist only few visitors per batch, normally less than 10. Moving through the areas heavily inhabited by wild animals, visitors will have the perfect opportunity to spot many if one keep the noice levels to the minimum.
Lighter than the Ambalappara trek, Meenmutty Fall trek will allow one to explore and chill at the waterfall lying deep inside the forest. The trek is 14 km in distance. During both these treks, the visitors will get a chance to spend time immersing in the pristine delicacy of the sanctuary.
The nearby Aralam Central State Farm
Near to the sanctuary is the Aralam Central State Farm. The farm is one of the main production centres of hybrid coconut seeds in India. It is 3,500 acres in area surrounded by the sanctuary, started in 1971 by the Government of India. The farm is now administered by the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Development Department of Kerala State to distribute 50% of the land to the landless tribes and the remaining to continue running as a farm for the welfare of the tribes.
The main aim of the farm are to produce and distribute good quality plantation crops and also commercial production of crops in a large scale. Above all, the aim lies in providing further social and economic welfare of the tribals settled in Aralam.
Best time to visit and how to get to the the sanctuary?
October to May are the best time to visit the sanctuary as the rest of the months are in Monsoon Season with lots of rain. The sanctuary is open throughout the year so June to September too can be used as a time to witness the mighty rains and lush greenery.
The nearest town to the sanctuary is in Iritty, 5 kilometres away. The sanctuary is well connected by buses from Wayanad, Kannur and Thalasserry towns. The nearest major railway stations are in Kannur (66 km) and Thalassery (55 km).