Heritage tag will attract more visitors

Ecotourism activities in the World Heritage Sites of the Western Ghats may be streamlined after assessing the carrying capacity of the individual sites. While inscribing the 39 serial sites of the Ghats, the World Heritage Committee has asked India to initiate “proactive responsible tourism management in anticipation of increased future visitation, and to ensure that visitation remains within the capacity of the property.”

Lookout towers have been put up inside Neyyar, Peppara, and Agasthyavanam forests to spot wild animals.

At 6 a.m. on all days, except Sunday, Bhagavan Kani, a forest tribal, clambers up a narrow bamboo ladder to get to a watch house atop a tall tree deep inside the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary to keep a look out for wild elephants.

A wildlife survey for the critically endangered Malabar Civet has led to the “first authenticated sighting” of an adult tigress near Athirumala, between Neyyar and Peppara wildlife reserves, almost 60 km northeast of the capital city.

P.K. Jayakumar Sharma, Wildlife Warden, Neyyar, said wildlife researcher A. Mathews Nixon Armstrong had on January 24 set up a camera trap deep inside the moist deciduous lowland forests of the Western Ghats to spot the elusive civet.

We conducted a survey in Kerala from December 2009 to March 2010 to document Nilgiri Tahr Nilgiritragus hylocrius (Ogilby) populations in fourteen sites that ranged from Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary in the southern Western Ghats to Silent Valley, north of the Palghat Gap. The total sightings of the Nilgiri Tahr over the course of the survey were 235 animals, of which yearlings and kids constituted 12%.