IN257
Berijam (Kodaikanal)


Year of compilation: 2004

Site description
Berijam, situated 23 km west of Kodaikanal, holds the largest area of shola and evergreen forests of the Palni Hills. There is a seminatural lake in the middle of Berijam forest (Balachandran, in litt. 2003). Both, Berijam and Vandaravu forest ranges have two reserve forests each of which extend to an area of about 6,200 ha. The important Mathikettan (271 ha) and Marian sholas are situated here. Vandaravu Peak (2,654 m) which is situated on the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala States is the highest peak of the area. The Kodaikanal-Munnar road passes through Berijam and Vandaravu. This undulating plateau bears grasslands interspersed with wooded sholas. The grasslands have been extensively planted by Wattle, Blue gum, Pine and Alnus. Due to provison from nurseries of the Forest Department for indigenous high altitude trees of the Palni Hills, young Shola trees thrive on the campuses of several enlightened Kodaikanal institutions and in private gardens. The Forest Department is replacing old plantations with native shola species such as Elaeocarpus glandulosus, Syzygium densiflorum, Neolitsea scrobiculata, Michelia nilagirica and others. There is a proposal to declare a wildlife sanctuary in the Upper Palnis, which will also include this IBA.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: The Bombay Natural History Society has been conducting bird ringing in the Upper Palni Hills including Berijam since 1970, and 94 species of birds have been identified. Almost all the high altitude endemics of the Western Ghats have been seen and/or ringed here. Interestingly, the Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon Columba elphinstonii, which was uncommon till the mid 1980s, has now become quite regular. It has also been found to breed in the Upper Palnis (Balachandran et al. 2003). The increase in other endemic species such as White-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx major, Black-and-Orange Flycatcher Ficedula nigrorufa, and Nilgiri Flycatcher Eumyias albicaudata were discovered during bird banding studies carried out at the neighbouring Poomparai, another IBA, from 1970 to 2003 (Balachandran et al. 2003). However, the Nilgiri Pipit Anthus nilghiriensis has decreased in number, mainly due to the plantation of exotic trees in the grasslands. Out of the 16 restricted range species of the Western Ghats (Stattersfield et al. 1998), seven have been reported from this IBA site. But of the 15 Biome-10 species identified by BirdLife International (undated), only four are found here: White-cheeked Barbet Megalaima viridis, Malabar Whistling Thrush Myiophonus horsfieldii, Indian Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus horsfieldii and Black-throated Munia Lonchura kelaarti (Balachandran et al. 2003). This site has been selected on the basis of the presence of globally threatened species, a significant percentage of restricted range species, and some biome-restricted species.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The major predator is Leopard Panthera pardus. There have been some unconfirmed records of Tiger Panthera tigris also. The ungulates include Gaur Bos frontalis, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak and Wild Boar Sus scrofa. The Gaur population is quite healthy and increasing (S. Balachandran pers. comm. 2003). The Wild Dog Cuon alpinus has also increased due to good protection. The Indian Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica is found in all suitable forest patches.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: Invasive species; Plantation; Developmental activities.

This IBA site is relatively well protected, as grazing and firewood collection pressure is low. The natural forests are now surrounded by forest plantations and entry is restricted. Villagers get their fuel requirements from the Wattle plantations. The only real threat is the spread of the invasive Scotch Broom Cystisus scoparius in most of the remaining grasslands. The area of Reserve Forest in the Kodaikanal Division is dwindling gradually, due to handing over of forested land to various departments, both State as well as Central Governments, for other purposes such as establishing apple orchard, Bee Research Station, Sheep Breeding Research Station, and for the various irrigation projects. The Sheep Breeding Research Station (Manavanur) has taken over 801 ha. Land was allotted to construct the Lord Murugan Temple at Berijam. In addition, the public has been given right of way, access to a temple, right to take water, build streams and to construct roads and channels.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Berijam (Kodaikanal). Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/11/2019.