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Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve & Vaigai


In a government order, State Forests Secretary had declared the creation of Srivilliputhur Megamalai Tiger Reserve in February 2021.

The Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve will provide protection to Megamalai, the Vaigai’s primary catchment, in turn helping water levels to rise in the river.


GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Important Protected Areas, Conservation of Biodiversity), GS-I: Geography (Water Resources, Drainage system of India)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Vaigai River
  2. Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve
  3. About Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary

Vaigai River

  • The Vaigai is a river in the Tamil Nadu state of southern India; it passes through the towns of Theni, Dindigul and Madurai.
  • It originates in Varusanadu Hills, the Periyar Plateau of the Western Ghats range, and flows northeast through the Kambam Valley, which lies between the Palani Hills to the north and the Varushanad Hills to the south.
  • As it rounds the eastern corner of the Varushanad Hills, the river turns southeast, running through the region of Pandya Nadu. Madurai, the largest city in the Pandya Nadu region and its ancient capital, lies on the Vaigai.
  • The river empties into the Palk Strait near Uchipuli, close to Pamban bridge in Ramanathapuram District.
  • The main tributaries of the river Vaigai are, the river Suruliyaru, the river Mullaiyaaru, the river Varaganadi, the river Manjalaru, river kottagudi and river Kridhumaal, Upparu river.
  • Vaigai Dam is the major dam in this river which is present in Theni District
  • Vaigai gets major feed from the Periyar Dam in Kumili, Kerala. Water from the Periyar River in Kerala is diverted into the Vaigai River in Tamil Nadu via a tunnel through the Western Ghats.
  • In summers, the Vaigai river ends up dry very often. The water never reaches Madurai, let alone flowing into places past Madurai.

Srivilliputhur-Megamalai Tiger Reserve

  • Srivilliputhur Megamalai Tiger Reserve is the fifth tiger reserve in Tamil Nadu, created in 2021.
  • An area of more than 1 lakh hectares in Srivilliputhur Grizzled Giant Squirrel Sanctuary and Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary have been combined to create the tiger reserve.
GoI approves Srivilliputhur-Meghamalai Tiger Reserve in TN;set to become  5th Tiger Reserve in TN
Prakash Javadekar on Twitter: "Happy to announce that India has now 51 Tiger  Reserves. The Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary & Megamalai  Wildlife Sanctuary has been declared as “Srivilliputhur Megamalai Tiger  Reserve”,

Benefits of the creation of the new tiger reserve:

  • Tigers from the neighboring Periyar Tiger Reserve and the Anamalai Tiger Reserve regions can find significant habitats and breeding and home ranges in the highly undulating terrains of Srivilliputhur and Megamalai hilly tracts.
  • The forested habitats of the Srivilliputhur regions, which are largely uninhabited and undisturbed, could provide excellent buffering grounds to the tigers of Periyar Tiger Reserve as much as they can offer excellent genetic exchange grounds for the tigers of Anamalai region.
  • According to the concept note, tiger disperses in large areas and such dispersals are important for the exchange of genes. This process is essential for long term growth of a population.
  • With this new tiger reserve, Vaigai river and its catchment areas will be fully protected. Vaigai’s tributaries will start flowing again and

About Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary

  • The Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary (GSWS), also known as Srivilliputhur Wildlife Sanctuary, was established in 1988 to protect the Near threatened grizzled giant squirrel (Ratufa macroura).
  • It is bordered on the southwest by the Periyar Tiger Reserve and is one of the best-preserved forests south of the Palghat Gap. It consists of high hills and valleys, with a number of peaks reaching up to 1,800 metres (5,900 ft).
  • In addition to grizzled giant squirrels, other animals seen here are Bengal tiger, bonnet macaque, common langur, elephants, flying squirrels, gaur, Indian giant squirrel, leopard, lion-tailed macaques, mouse deer, Nilgiri langur, Nilgiri Tahrs, palm civets, porcupine, sambar, slender loris, sloth bear, spotted deer, tree shrews, wild boar and wild cats.
  • Recognised as an Important Bird Area, over 275 species of birds are seen in this sanctuary including 14 species of birds endemic to the Western Ghats, such as the critically endangered Oriental white-backed vulture and the long-billed vulture, vulnerable species Nilgiri wood-pigeon, broad-tailed grass warbler, red-faced malkoha and the white-bellied shortwing (Brachypteryx major) and near threatened species like the great pied hornbill, Nilgiri pipit, black-and-orange flycatcher and the Nilgiri flycatcher.
  • The conservation problems affecting the sanctuary are human-elephant conflict, human encroachment, cattle grazing and forest fire.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine

February 2024