Eravikulam National Park

Country/territory: India

IBA criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2004)
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Area: 9,700 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2003 not assessed medium not assessed
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Site description (2004 baseline)
Eravikulam National Park lies along the crest of the Western Ghats in the high ranges of Idukki district of Kerala. The nearest town, Munnar, is accessible by road from Cochin and Kottayam. Till 1975, the High Range Game Preservation Association, Munnar managed this area, when it was declared a sanctuary. In 1978, it became a National Park, mainly to protect the endemic Nilgiri Tahr Hemitragus hylocrius. Eravikulam is the finest example of what remains of the shola grassland ecosystem in the Western Ghats. It is also the best remaining habitat of some highly endangered and endemic mammals such as the Nilgiri Tahr and the Nilgiri Marten Martes gwatkinsi. Anaimudi, at an elevation of 2,695 m is the highest peak in the Western Ghats. At the base of the Anaimudi is the Eravikulam plateau, with an average elevation of 2,000 m. It is part of a larger plateau called the High Ranges. The climate of Eravikulam and areas of similar altitude in the Western Ghats is subtropical. The wind-swept hills and rolling plateaux have grassland vegetation, and the valleys and folds harbour biologically rich forests called sholas. Thus the natural vegetation of the plateau is a mosaic of sholas and grasslands. Eravikulam is perhaps the largest contiguous, undisturbed shola-grassland ecosystem remaining in the Western Ghats. It is definitely the only place where one can now witness the grandeur of the mountains when, once in twelve years, whole tracts are covered by the mass flowering ‘Neelakurinji’ Strobilanthus kunthianus, “the great blue flower of Nilgiri”. About 60% of the Eravikulam National Park is under grassland. Menon (1997) identified three grassland communities based on characteristic spectral radiance value: i) Dichanthium polyptcum- Eulalia pheothrix-Chrysopogon zeylanicus; ii) Arundinella mesophylla-Andropogon lividus-Ishamum indicum-Chrysopogon zeylanicus; and iii) Arundinella purpurea-Chrysopogon zeylanicus-Eulalia pheothrix. About 25% of the Park constitutes shola forest, consisting of Mesia indica, Microtropis ramiflora, Syzigium arnottianum, Ixora notoniana, Ternstroemia japonica, Cinnamomum wightii and Mahonia leschenaultii (Menon 1997). A small percentage of West Coast Tropical Evergreen forest is also seen. About 6% is under rocks and cliffs, an important habitat of the Nilgiri Tahr.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: The Kerala Forest Research Institute recorded a total of 146 species of birds within the National Park during a survey in 1997. In a four days survey in March 1997, Uthaman (1998) recorded 92 species. Compared to some bird rich areas of Kerala, this is a low figure. The extreme climatic conditions of the high altitude plateau are a deterrent for many tropical birds. Nevertheless, Eravikulam is an important habitat of many species of birds such as the Grey-breasted Laughingthrush Garrulax jerdoni, the Nilgiri Flycatcher Eumyias albicaudata, Black-and-Orange Flycatcher Ficedula nigrorufa, Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon Columba elphinstonii and Nilgiri Pipit Anthus nilghiriensis that are endemic to the Western Ghats. There is a recent breeding record of the White-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx major (C. Susanth pers. comm. 2003). Along with Grasshills and Mukurthi NP (both IBAs), Erivakulam could be a very important site for altitudinal and habitat specialists such as the Black-and-Orange Flycatcher. Uthaman (1998) and his team came across this species 13 times in four days. This site lies in the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area (Stattersfield et al. 1998) in which 16 endemic or Restricted Range species have been listed. In this site, 13 of these 16 endemics have been found. For some endemic birds, such as the Nilgiri Pipit, this is one of the most important sites in their overall distributional range. BirdLife International (undated) has classified species that are typical of different biomes. Eravikulam, like other IBAs of the Western Ghats falls in Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forest). Fifteen bird species are representative of this biome. At Erivakulam, nine species of this biome have been seen till now. Perhaps the remaining would also be seen if more detailed studies are conducted. Erivakulam NP is also an important site for the winter migrants from the Himalayas and beyond. For example, Large-crowned Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus occipitalis, Large-billed Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus magnirostris and Rufous-tailed Flycatcher Muscicapa ruficauda, the birds of temperate forests of the Himalayas, winter here in large numbers. Similarly, Blue-headed Rock-thrush Monticola cinclorhynchus and Pied Thrush Zoothera wardii are found here in winter. Both species belong to the subtropical forest in the Himalayas.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The Nilgiri Tahr is the star attraction of the Park. Other ungulates are Sambar Cervus unicolor, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak and Gaur Bos gaurus. Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard Panthera pardus and Wild Dog Cuon alpinus are the major carnivores.

Erivakulam Park has a migratory population of the Asian Elephant Elephas maximus. Smaller carnivores include Small Indian Civet Viverricula indica and Jungle cats Felis chaus. Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus, Nilgiri Langur Trachypithecus johni and Wild Boar Sus scrofa are seen in the sholas and adjoining tea estates.

Key contributors: IBA Team and Kerala Wildlife Department.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Eravikulam National Park. Downloaded from on 26/09/2023.