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This Reserve is situated in the south Western Ghats of India. It is bound by forests in west, north and south and by villages in the east. The Western Ghats is among the 18 world biodiversity hotspots. Agasthiarmalai (1681 mtrs) which falls within the core zone of the Reserve is the 3rd highest peak in South India. Part of Agasthyamalai hills in the core of the Reserve is considered one of the five centres of plant diversity and endemism in India (IUCN). The topography is undulating.

This is the only area of Western Ghats which has longest raining period of about 8 months,and it is the only non-dipterocarp evergreen forest in the region.It is floristically very different from other sites.

The rich forests of the Reserve form the catchment area for 14 rivers and streams. Among them the Tambraparani, Ramanadi, Karayar, Servalar, Manimuthar, Pachayar, Kodaiyar, Kadnar, Kallar form the back-bone of the irrigation network and drinking water for people of Tirunelveli, Turicorin and part of Kanyakumari district. Sever major dams - Karaiyar, Lower Dam, Servalar, Manimuthar, Ramanadi, Kadnanadi and Kodaiyar - owe their existence to these rivers.

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Conservation History

Papanasam Reserved Forests and Singampatty Ex-zamindari Forests of Tirunelveli District were declared Tiger Sanctuary in 1962. The Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 came into force in the state of Tamil Nadu in 1974. All the existing Sanctuaries were deemed sanctuaries under the Wildlife (Protection) Act. The entire Kalakad Reserved Forests was notified sanctuary in 1976.

These Sanctuaries formed part of the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu, the seventeenth Tiger Reserve in the country, created in 1988-89. Initially, it comprised of two adjacent wildlife sanctuaries of Kalakad and Mundanthurai in district of Tirunelveli to which parts of Veerapuli and Kilamalai Reserve Forests (Approx. 77 sq. km.) of adjacent district Kanyakumari, were added in April 1996. The area of the Reserve is 895 sq. km.

Kalakad Mundanthurai comprises of 665 sq. km. Reserved Forest. About 230 sq. km. of Singampatty Ex-zamindari Forest is not yet declared as Reserve Forest under Section 16 of Tamil Nadu Forest Act 1882. The legal status of this forest is Reserve Land under the Act.

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  Jungle Cat
  Wild Dog
  Wild Pig
  Mouse Deer
  Sloth Bear
  Lion tailed Macaque
  Bonnet Macaque
  Nilgiri langur
  Bonnet Macaque
  Common Langur
  Slender loris
  Giant Squirrel








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Forest Types   

Southern Hill top Tropical Evergreen Forests, West coast tropical evergreen forests , Tirunelveli semi-evergreen forests ,Dry teak forests ,Southern dry mixed deciduous forests ,Carnatic umbrella thorn forests ,Ochlandra reeds ,Southern moist mixed deciduous forests ,Tropical riparian fringe forests ,Euphorbiaceous scrub ,High/ low attitude grass lands.

Major Flora

Gamble recorded a total of 179 families in the then Madras State. Of these 157 families are represented in Tirunelveli forests. The total number of genera and species recorded by Gamble in the erstwhile Madras State is 1256 and 4390 respectively. Of these Tirunelveli flora contains 872 genera and 2105 species.

Main Species

Hopea parviflora, Hopea utilis, Calophylum elatum, Cullenia resaraona, Artocarpus hirsuta, Syzygium sp., Cinnamum zeylancium, Macaranga roxburghii, Mesua ferrea, Gluta travancorica, Canarium strictum, Vateria malabaraica, Myristica species, Vitex altimassima, Dysoxylim malabrium, Anacolosa densiflora, Cullenia exasillata, Cullenia exelsa, Elaeodendron glacum, Eleogarpus tuberculatus, Alstonia scholaris, Mangifera indica, Decussocarpus Wallichianus, Podocarpus latifolia, Eugenia species, Garcinia cambogia, Xanthophyllum flavescens, Felicium decipiens, Mallotus philippensis, Litsea species, Dalbergia latifolia, Kingiodendron pinnatum, Wrightia tinctoria, chloroxylon swietenia, Pterocarpus marsupium, Anogeissus latifolia, Careya arborea, Emblica officinalis, Dalbergia paniculata, Albizia lebeck, Tectona grandis, Ficus spp., Phyllanthus emblica, Hardwickia binata, Terminalia spp.

Major Flora

Main Species

Mammals: Tiger, Elephant, Gaur, Mouse deer, Leopard, Rusty spotted cat, Brown palm civet, Leopard, Sambhar, Spotted deer, Malabar giant squirrel, Nilgiri Langur, Bonnet Macaque, Slender Loris, Lion tailed Macaque, Sloth Bear, Brown mongoose, Nilgiri Martin, Indian pangolin .

Birds :
Ceylon mouth frog, Grey headed bulbul, Great Pied hornbill, Great Indian Hornbill, Malabar Grey hornbill, Oriental bay owl, Broad tailed Grass warbler.

Reptiles: King Cobra, Python, Monitor Lizard, Flying Lizard, Pit viper etc.

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Practices, Achievements and Shortfalls

The general objective of management of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) is the conservation of biodiversity in all its aspects for all times to come.

The management of Tiger Reserve is very much affected due to non-filling of Forest Guard and Watchers post for a long time. Twenty five posts of Forest Guard and 5 post of Forest Watchers are vacant. These posts are not being filled as there is a ban on recruitment by the state Government. Some beats are vacant for a long time. Hence much difficulty is being experienced in managing the vulnerable beats.

Efforts made during last three years by conducting open training courses on Wildlife Management under World Bank assisted Project has benefited 23 employees. Training is being arranged for the staff for Participatory Rural Appraisal, Micro Planning and allied subjects so as to make them competent for implementation of Eco development.

Cattle in the peripheral villages is vaccinated for possible diseases with a view to check spread of infections to wildlife of the Reserve.

There is pressure on fringe forest for firewood and small timber removal by local people. It has been significantly reduced, since last few years, because of implementation of eco-development project involving local people in conservation efforts.

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Special Projects   

Conservation of Biodiversity Project - Wildlife Institute of India (1996-97).
Study on effects of fires and grazing on under-story communities at Mundanthurai plateau.
Study on the risk mitigation behaviour of Bonnet Macaque
Status of Agamid Lizards in the Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu by Mr. S. Bhupathy and Mr. P. Kannan.
Study of migrant forest birds in Mundanthurai
Effects of fragmentation of forest on small mammals, reptiles and amphibians and birds (USFS project)

New Initiatives


A World Bank assisted Project on conservation of biodiversity in Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve through eco-development and improved park management is on. The major objective has been to educate, motivate and involve people in peripheral villages along the 110 km eastern boundary of the Reserve where the dependency of the people and cattle from these villages on the forest resources of the Reserve is moderate to heavy.

Village Forest Protection Committees

133 Village Forest Protection Committees were formed.

Protection Squads / Patrolling

Watchers are employed for keeping an eye on the movements of poachers/smugglers in the vulnerable, remote area of the Reserve.

Education and Awareness

The Arumbugal Trust, an NGO, has ample experience in conducting environmental awareness programme in villages adjoining protected area. The NGO has successfully conducted programmes in all villages. The publicity materials such as information brochure, booklets, stickers on various themes of wildlife management and people participation through Eco development approach have been created. Publicity boards have been installed at many places.

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The Tiger Reserve has three colonies of State Electricity Board personnel and labourers, a large multinational tea company with about 10,000 workers besides several small estates and 5 Kani Tribal habitations consisting of about 102 families. Around 145 hamlets situated within 5 km from the eastern boundary of the Reserve running over 110 km are inhabited by 1,00,000 people.

Livestock population

There are about 50,000 cattle in the fringe villages within 5 km zone from the eastern boundary of the Reserve. There is very small number of cattle owned by people of electricity board colonies as well as the tea estate workers within the Reserve.


Most of the encroachments are very old and number about 90 over a small area of 9.24ha. The encroachers had petitioned various courts and obtained stay orders. Efforts are being made to evict the encroachers whose petitions have been dismissed by various courts of law. An encroachment of 0.022 ha in Kolundumamalai Reserve Forest was noticed during 1994.

A building of Muslim Dargha was constructed. Action is being taken to evict this encroachment.

There is also a huge suspected encroachment by M/s. B.B.T.C. Ltd., who is the leasee in the Singampatti Beat VI Land which was notified under Sec. 4 of Tamil Nadu Forest Act 1882. Since the boundary stones are missing, the Revenue Department has been asked to undertake the survey.


No grazing permits were issued in the areas under Kalakad Wildlife Sanctuary since its inception in 1976. Grazing permits were issued in some parts of Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary. Grazing remained a problem in parts of Kadayam, Papanasam and Mundanthurai. Cattle entered the Reserve through Lower Dam and Manimuthar Dam areas. Issue of grazing permits in Mundanthurai Sanctuary was stopped from 1997-98. The efforts to advise the people staying in Electricity Board Colonies in Lower Dam and Servalar to stop cattle rearing have not been very effective.


Fire is not a problem in core zone since much of the forest area received enough rainfall in the core zone. The dry deciduous forest on the lower slopes in the Reserve do experience ground fire during summer months.

No. of fires
Area in Ha

Poaching of fauna and flora

Species vulnerable to poaching of this Reserve are Nilgiri Tahr, Nilgiri langur followed by Sambar, Wild boar, Monitor lizard and to a much lesser extent Panther. No case of tiger poaching has been recorded for a very long time. The areas most vulnerable for poaching are the Tiruvannamalai for Nilgiri Tahr, Neterika, Manjolai, Nallumukku, Oothu, Kannikatti, Ullar, Agasthiar, Chinnapul and upper reaches of Kadayam range for Nilgiri langur and the fringe forests for Sambar and Wild boar.

Occasionally the cases of timber cutting and removal of Teak, Rosewood, Vengai are reported.

The Reserve has about 56 km area on the western side abutting into the state of Kerala from where the entry is relatively easy because of existence of private estates nearly. Many times people across the border enter into the Reserve for illegal activities. Since the areas are extremely remote from Tamil Nadu side, frequent patrolling becomes difficult.

Poaching Cases

Miscellaneous Gem Stone Scheduled

Criminals and Extremists



No Highway passes through in Reserve forests. In Mundanthurai Sanctuary, a State rural road leading from Papanasam upto upper dam is being maintained by Rural Highways Department.
There is a road connecting Manimuthar to Upper Kodayar which is maintained partly by the Tea Company within leased forest land and State Electricity Board.



Hydro-electric Projects

Karayar, Upper dam, Servalar and Upper Kodayar reservoirs are within the Reserve. A large number of employees of Electricity Board and Public Works Department stay in permanent colonies within the Reserve.

Plantation Lease

Bombay Burmah Trading Company has 33.88 sq. km. land lease valid till 2028 in the core area of the Reserve. The Company has plantations of tea and coffee, and three factories.

Control of the Buffer

The Field Director has control over an area of 818 sq. km. of which 251 sq. km. is Kalakad Sanctuary and 567 sq. km. is Mundanthurai Sanctuary. Notification of 77.28 sq. km. added to the Reserve in May, 1996 by taking areas from Veerapuli and Kilamalai Reserved Forests of Kanyakumari Forest Division is pending.

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The major conflicts is the crop damage by wild boar in the villages abutting the Reserve boundary. Damages by elephants were last reported during 1995. However, in some areas of the Reserve, elephant movements along the lower slope may cause make damage in the adjoining villages. During last few years some cases of bear entering into the village and wounding a few people had been reported. Bonnet Macaque also creates problems in the surrounding villages. Occasional incidences of cattle kills have been noticed


Along the eastern boundary of the forest, there has been biotic pressure on the sources of Reserve with the pressure mostly in cutting and collection of firewood and small timber and non-timber minor forest produce. Four cases of Ganja cultivation had been detected in past. There have been large number of cases of gem-stone theft during 1993-94. This problem has since been controlled through effective protection and frequent patrolling of the area.

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Tiger Reserve Service Directory