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Aralam wildlife sanctuary is the northernmost protected area of Kerala state, situated in the southeast part of Kannur District. The sanctuary area falls in Aralam, Kelakam and Kottiyoor revenue villages and is located in the Northwest slopes of Western Ghats contiguous with the forests of Coorg (Kodagu) district of Karnataka state.
The PA (Protected Area) is comprised of Aralam Range, the only Range of Aralam wildlife division, which is part of Northern Wildlife Circle (Northern Region) Palakkad.
It was formed by carving out areas from the Odanthode Malavaram of Thalassery special division which was an erstwhile private forest, subsequently taken over by Govt. as per the provisions of the Kerala Private Forests (Vesting and assignment) Act 1971 and from the Kottiyoor RF of Wayanad Forest Division.
The Vested Forest portion of the sanctuary is 32.64 km2 and the 22.36 km2 is part of Kottiyoor RF (Reserved Forest).
Till 30.6.98 this sanctuary was a Range in Wayanad Wildlife Division. It started functioning as an independent wildlife division since 1.7.98 as per GO (MS) 36/98 dated 27.5.98.
In the First Management Plan the entire area was divided in to two zones viz: the Core Zone and the Buffer Zone.
Landscape of hills and slopes vary sanctuary altitude levels significantly. The lowest point is just about 50 meters from sea level. Steeply slanting up, altitude reaches about 1145 meters at Katti betta, the top peak.
Tropical forests of Aralam Sanctuary support diverse plant and animal life.
About 23 species of mammals spotted here include Sloth Bear, Mouse Deer, Elephant, Sambar, Barking Deer, Wild Boar and Gaur. Leopards, Tigers and other Wild Cats are also present though they are hard to be sighted on a typical sanctuary visit.
There is some chance that you may stumble upon something interesting as Malabar Giant Squirrel or Flying Squirrel. These rare species and other types of squirrels have made this sanctuary their home.
There are 22 species of reptiles including the deadly King Cobra, to make your visit to Aralam a bit exciting.
Bird enthusiasts love Aralam WLS because of the 188 types of birds found here including scores of endemic and endangered species. Those attract our attention include Great Pied Hornbill, Malabar Grey Hornbill, the Blue Winged Parakeet, Ceylon Frogmouth, Broad Billed Roller and Nilgiri Wood Pigeon.
Flying around displaying a touch of beauty are 144 species of butterflies.
Yearly rainfall of about 4000 mm creates an abundance of water bodies within the sanctuary. Several mountain streams unite and form river Cheenkannippuzha, the main water body.
Conditions have been conductive to developing thriving fish population. Sanctuary waters support 39 species of fish. Also found in association are those 23 species of amphibians of Aralam.
Besides creating water bodies, mighty rainfall also ensures lasting wetness. As a result, visitors to Aralam experience freshness, amidst rain forest teeming with flora and fauna.
Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary was formed in 1984 subsequent to Kerala Forest Department taking over privately held forest properties of Odanthode region. They created three divisions- Narikkadavu, Aralam, and Chavachi – which unitedly form wildlife sanctuary of Aralam.
Day visit to Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary is the usual activity. For those who want to take things a bit further, adventurous treks and nature camps are offered.
Visitors are permitted every day from 8 AM till 4 PM. The entry spot is located at Valayamchal at the south west corner of the sanctuary. Vehicles can reach up to sanctuary’s entrance.
For any assistance, Office of the Assistant Wild life warden is close by. Guide service is available and can be arranged at Valayamchal.
It may be worth mentioning that smoking, liquor and polythene bags are not allowed within the sanctuary.
Are you planning to visit Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary? Advance booking, while necessary to get into treks and nature camps, is preferable for regular day visits as well. It can be done by contacting Wildlife Warden’s office at Iritty or Assistant Wildlife Warden’s office at Valayamchal.
Aralam Sanctuary conducts Nature camps chiefly for students. They are so popular that up to 60 camps are conducted every year. These are 2 or 3 day camps with average of 40 participants. Nature camps for non-student groups have to be authorised by Chief Conservator of Forests.
Spending a whole day negotiating with tough terrains amidst deep forest, trekkers settle for night at Ambalappara Watch Tower, 25 kilometers away. Taking into consideration great odds and risks, five watcher-guides usually accompany a group of six tourists.
The next day is set for immersing in pristine delicacy of the surroundings while getting carried away by the rhythm of the rainforest.
Return trek to Valayamchal premises takes up the third day.
Moving through areas heavily inhabited by wild animals, adventure lovers have the perfect opportunity to spot many. Noises being a big turn off, disciplined treks invariably produce better results.
After trekking 14 kilometres through rain forest, tourists settle overnight at Meenmutty Watch Tower.
Lighter than Ambalappara treks, the theme here is enjoying pristine rain forest. Chilling out at the waterfall is the delightful highlight of this jungle trip.
Captivated by sights, smells and sounds, Meenmutty trek culminates in a joyous sense of refreshment.
A local attraction at Aralam is the Central State Farm. Located adjacent to the sanctuary, it spans over a commendable 3000 hectares. It is a government of India initiative to research and develop hybrid coconut seeds.
Stay at Iritty is the usual choice. A PWD guest house, private loges and hotels cater to varying needs and budgets.
For those not contend with staying 20 kilometers away, Valayamchal guest house near the entrance of the sanctuary, is the perfect solution. Guest house have two bed rooms in addition to a dorm with 50 beds. Booking well in advance, though, may be necessary to get in there.
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