Sandwiched between the two branches of the Periyar River and surrounded by the serenity of the Anamalai hills, this pristine 25-sq-km region is a heaven for avid birdwatchers. Also known as Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, it was the first to be officially recognised as a bird sanctuary in Kerala. This one-time rubber plantation was declared a sanctuary in 1984, with the help of the late Dr Salim Ali, renowned ornithologist. Nearly 320 species of birds thrive here. Scores of crow pheasants, nightjars, drongos, woodpeckers, robins, babblers and darters colonise the towering trees. Rare birds such as the crimson-throated barbet,bee-eater, fairy blue bird, grey-headed fishing eagle, peninsular bay owl, night heron and the Malabar grey hornbill are also found. Sprawled over an undulating area, this sanctuary has tropical evergreen, semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests, interspersed with plantations of teak and mahogany. The wildlife found here includes elephants, leopards, sloth bears, mongoose, slender Boris, porcupines, pythons and king cobras.
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