Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, set up in 1942 and covering an area of 217.76 sq km , is situated between Bandipur National Park, Wynaad Sanctuary, Sigura and Singura Reserve Forest. In 1990 an area of 103.23 sq km of the sanctuary was notified as a national park. Located in the Niligiris district, and fed by the Moyar river, the protected area contains nearly 14% of India's first biosphere reserve-the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve. The park lies between the longitudes 76°21'30.42"E to 76°45'1.4"E and latitudes 11°31'58.44"N and 11°52'49.98"N. Elevation varies from a minimum of 467 m to a maximum of 1,251 m while annual rainfall averages 1,260 mm.
Vegetation type is a mix of tropical moist deciduous, tropical dry deciduous and southern tropical, thorn forest or scrub jungle patches. The tropical moist deciduous forest occurs predominantly in the western Benne Block while the tropical dry deciduous forest is present mainly in the eastern side. The scrub jungle patches are scattered in the Bokkapuram blocks, Moyar and Avarihalla blocks (Jain and Sastry 1983). Tree species predominantly seen in the moist deciduous forests include Lagerstroemia microcarpa- Tectona grandis-Dillenia pentagyna types. In the dry, deciduous forests, the tree species seen are Anogeissus latifolia- Tectona grandis-Terminalia tomentosa types (Pascal et al. 1982).
Mudumalai is known for its large herds of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) (Ali et al. 1985), Indian bison or gaur (Bos gaurus) and chital or spotted deer (Axis axis). Tigers (Panthera tigris) and leopards (Panthera pardus) too are present here in large numbers. Leopards are most often seen in the Kargudi area while wild dogs (Cuon alpinus) are commonly seen in the Masinagudi and Theppakkadu blocks. Other mammalian inhabitants include jackals (Canis aureus), striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) and sloth bears (Melursus ursinus) (Gokula et al. 2004).
Recognised as an Important Bird Area, nearly 266 species of birds have been recorded (Gokula 1998). These include 'Critically endangered' species like the Oriental white-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis) and the long-billed vulture (Gyps indicus), 'Vulnerable' species like the lesser adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus), Nilgiri wood-pigeon (Columba elphistonii), yellow-throated bulbul (Pycnonotus xantholaemus), broad-tailed grass warbler (Schoenicola platyura) and the pied tit (Parus nuchalis). Also found here is the 'Near threatened' black and orange flycatcher (Ficedula nigrorufa) (Gokula and Vijayan 1996, BirdLife International 2001). Eleven of the 15 Biome-10 (Indian Peninsular Tropical Moist Forest) and 27 of the 59 Biome-11 (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone) species are found here.
A national highway cuts through this park bringing with it all the adverse impacts of noise and air pollution, besides the risk of accidental deaths and injuries to wildlife. Other disturbances to the biodiversity include human habitation, cattle grazing, over exploitation of non-timber forest products and commercial forestry (Gokula et al. 2004).The population of cattle that forage in the forests of the Moyar and Masinagudi area have been estimated to vary from ten to twenty thousand (Ali et al. 1985). Outbreaks of fatal diseases like rinderpest transmitted from the cattle population to gaur have been reported (Nair et al. 1978). Other threats to this protected area include forest fires, construction of dams, reservoirs, canals and tunnels for hydroelectric projects (Prabhakar and Gadgil 1994).
Ali, S. and Daniel, J.C., Sivaganesan, B. and Desai, A.A. 1985. Study of ecology of certain endangered species of wildlife and their habitats. The Asian Elephant. Annual Report 1984-85. Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai, India. pp 65.
BirdLife International . 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: The Birdlife International Red Data Book. Birdlife International, Cambridge, UK.
Gokula, V .1998. Bird communities of the thorn and dry deciduous forests in Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. South India. Ph.D. Thesis. Bharatiyar University, Coimbatore, India.
Gokula, V. and Vijayan, I. 1996. Birds of Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, India. Forktail. 12:107-116.
Gokula, V., Vijayan, L. and Zarri, A.A. 2004) Mudumalai National Park. In: Important Bird Areas in India: Priority sites for conservation (Islam, M. Z. and Rahmani, A. R).Indian Bird Conservation Network: Bombay Natural History Society and Birdlife International, UK. pp 972-973.
Jain, S.K. and Sastry, A.R.K. 1983. Botany of some tiger habitats in India. Botanical Survey of India. Department of Environment, Government of India. pp 71.
Nair, S.S.C., Nair, P.V., Sharatchandra, H.C. and Gadgil, M. 1978. An ecological reconnaissance of the proposed Jawahar National Park. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 74:401-435.
Prabhakar and Gadgil, M. 1994. Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve: Biodiversity and population growth. Pp 33-37. Survey of the environment, The Hindu, Kasturi Publications, Chennai, India.
Pascal, J.P., Shyam Sundar, S. and Meher-Homji, V.M. 1982. Forest map of South India: Mercara-Mysore. French Institute, Pondicherry, India.