Monday, August 28, 2023

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary UPSC

The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Indian state of Kerala. It is situated in the Western Ghats, a region known for its rich biodiversity and unique ecosystems. The sanctuary is a part of the Idukki Reservoir, which is formed by the three dams – Cheruthoni, Idukki, and Kulamavu.

The sanctuary is characterized by its diverse range of flora and fauna, including numerous species of animals, birds, and plants. Some of the notable wildlife species found in the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary include elephants, sambar deer, bison, wild boar, tigers, leopards, and various species of reptiles and amphibians. The sanctuary also boasts a significant population of different bird species, making it a haven for birdwatchers and enthusiasts.

The diverse landscape of the sanctuary includes West Coast tropical evergreen forest, semi-evergreen forest, moist deciduous forest, shola, grassland, and marshes. It is situated at varying altitudes, which contributes to its unique biodiversity. The sanctuary is also home to several endangered and endemic species that are endemic to the Western Ghats region.

Visitors to the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary can enjoy activities such as nature walks, trekking, and birdwatching. The sanctuary's picturesque surroundings and tranquil environment attract tourists and nature enthusiasts looking to experience the natural beauty of the Western Ghats.

Table of Contents

  • Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary Location
  • Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary History
  • Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary Area
  • Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary River
  • Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary Lake
  • Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary Flora
  • Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary Fauna
    • Mammals
    • Birds
    • Reptile
  • Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary UPSC Questions

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary Location

The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Idukki district of the Indian state of Kerala. The Sanctuary is situated in the Western Ghats in Thodupuzha and Udumpanchola talukas of Idukki district. The lake (Idukki Reservoir) bordering three sides of the Sanctuary offers a panoramic view. 

It is situated adjacent to and south of Painavu, the district headquarters of Idukki revenue district and is 120 km north east of Kottayam. 

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary Nearest Airport:

The nearest airport to Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is Cochin International Airport. Cochin International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in the state of Kerala and is well-connected to major cities in India and international destinations. It is located approximately 140-150 kilometers (about 87-93 miles) away from the sanctuary. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary.

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary Nearest Railway Station:

The nearest railway station to Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is Kottayam Railway Station. Kottayam Railway Station is a major railway station in Kerala and is well-connected to various parts of India. It is situated approximately 115-125 kilometers (about 71-78 miles) from the sanctuary. From Kottayam Railway Station, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary.

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary History

The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary has a history intertwined with the conservation efforts and recognition of the Western Ghats region's ecological importance. 

1. The Idduki Hydroelectric Project and Dam Construction (1960s):

In the 1960s, a significant milestone in the region's history was marked by the initiation of the Idduki Hydroelectric Project. This ambitious project aimed at addressing energy needs involved the construction of three dams – Idduki, Chemthony, and Kulamavu. These dams collectively contributed to the creation of the expansive Idduki reservoir, covering an impressive 33 square kilometers.

2. Formation of Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary (1976):

Recognizing the vital need to preserve the natural environment and counter potential siltation issues stemming from the hydroelectric project, the Government of Kerala took a crucial step in 1976. It designated the surrounding forest areas as a protected sanctuary. This strategic move not only aimed to safeguard the ecosystem but also paved the way for the establishment of the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary.

3. Conservation Amidst Ecological Concerns:

The newly established Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary served as a conservation stronghold in the face of ecological challenges posed by the construction of dams and their subsequent impact on the local environment. By safeguarding the area's flora and fauna, the sanctuary became a bastion of biodiversity in the Western Ghats.

4. Transition of Administrative Control:

Prior to its transformation into a wildlife sanctuary, the region fell within the jurisdiction of the Kottayam Forest Division. Subsequent to its designation as a sanctuary, administrative responsibilities were handed over to the Idukki Wildlife Warden. This administrative shift reinforced the commitment to preserving and managing the sanctuary's ecological integrity.

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary Area

The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary covers an approximate area of 105.364 square kilometers. This expanse encompasses diverse ecosystems within the Western Ghats, including dense forests, grasslands, marshes, and water bodies. 

The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary consists of two sections (1) Chempakassery which was originally part of Nagarampara Range and (2) Kakkathodu Section, originally part of Ayyappancoil Range. 

The area of the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary falls in Nagarampara Reserve Forest and forms the catchment area of the Idukki Hydroelectric Project. The average elevation of the Sanctuary is 700 m.

The sanctuary's varied landscape contributes to its rich biodiversity, housing numerous species of plants, animals, and birds. This area provides a protected habitat for a range of wildlife species, making it a vital conservation area within the Western Ghats region.

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary River

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is cradled by the Cheruthoni and Periyar Rivers, It highlights the crucial role that these rivers play in shaping the sanctuary's geography and ecological dynamics.

(1) Cheruthoni River: 

The Cheruthoni River, along with the Cheruthoni Dam, contributes to the formation of the Cheruthoni Reservoir. This reservoir not only serves as a source of hydroelectric power but also affects the local ecosystem by providing water resources to the sanctuary's surrounding habitats.

(2) Periyar River:

The Periyar River is a significant water body in the region, and its presence near the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary adds to the sanctuary's appeal. Rivers often serve as corridors for wildlife movement and can influence the distribution of plant and animal species. The Periyar River's influence on the sanctuary's landscape include providing water sources, influencing vegetation patterns, and supporting various aquatic and semi-aquatic species.

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary Lake

The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is surrounded by water bodies formed by the dams constructed as part of the Idukki Hydroelectric Project. These reservoirs have created lakes within the sanctuary's vicinity, adding to its ecological diversity and significance. Some of the key lakes associated with the sanctuary include:

(1) Idukki Reservoir:

The Idukki Reservoir, formed by the Idukki Dam, is one of the largest artificial lakes in Kerala. The Idukki Dam is a double curvature arch dam constructed across the Periyar River. Idukki Reservoir covers a vast area and plays a vital role in hydroelectric power generation. While primarily serving as a water source for the hydroelectric project, the reservoir also impacts the local ecosystem and wildlife.

(2) Cheruthoni Reservoir:

The Cheruthoni Dam creates the Cheruthoni Reservoir. This reservoir contributes to the hydroelectric project's power generation capacity and has implications for the sanctuary's surroundings. The presence of the reservoir likely affects local water availability and influences the distribution of species.

(3) Kulamavu Reservoir:

The Kulamavu Dam forms the Kulamavu Reservoir. Like the other reservoirs, it serves as a water storage facility for the hydroelectric project. The presence of this reservoir influence the overall ecology of the sanctuary by providing water sources and shaping habitat availability.

These lakes, formed by the reservoirs, are integral to the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary's landscape. They contribute to the sanctuary's ecosystem by providing water sources, affecting vegetation patterns, and attracting various bird species and aquatic life. The interaction between the lakes and the sanctuary's diverse ecosystems contributes to the overall biodiversity and ecological health of the region.

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary Flora

The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is known for its diverse flora, which is characteristic of the Western Ghats region. The sanctuary's varied elevations, ranging from lower altitudes to higher hills, contribute to the presence of a wide range of plant species. Here are some of the types of flora that can be found in the sanctuary:

1. Tropical Evergreen Forests:

These dense and lush forests are typical of the Western Ghats. They are characterized by a high diversity of tree species, including various types of hardwood trees and climbers.

2. Semi-Evergreen Forests:

These forests have a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees. They are found at slightly lower elevations compared to tropical evergreen forests.

3. Moist Deciduous Forests:

As the name suggests, these forests consist of trees that shed their leaves during a specific season. They are found at lower altitudes and are home to a variety of plant species.

4. Grasslands:

The sanctuary also has grasslands, which provide unique habitats for several plant species adapted to open spaces and seasonal changes.

5. Shola Forests:

These are unique to the Western Ghats and are found at higher elevations. Shola forests are characterized by stunted trees, dense growth, and a variety of shrubs and grasses.

6. Marshy Areas:

The presence of water bodies, including reservoirs, lead to the development of marshy areas with aquatic plants.

7. Bamboo Groves: 

Bamboo is a common sight in the Western Ghats, and the sanctuary have areas with bamboo groves.

Note- Unfortunately, the Kerala Forest Development Corporation has converted most of the grasslands into Eucalyptus plantations.

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary Fauna (Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary Animals)

Which animal is famous in Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary?

The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a diverse range of fauna, showcasing the rich biodiversity of the Western Ghats region. The sanctuary's various ecosystems, including forests, grasslands, and water bodies, provide habitats for a variety of animal species. 

Here are some examples of the fauna you might find in the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary


  • Asian Elephant
  • Tiger 
  • Leopard  
  • Sambar
  • Barking Deer
  • Mouse Deer
  • Slender Loris 
  • Common Giant Flying Squirrel 
  • Sloth Bear 
  • Wild Dog 
  • Bonnet Macaque 
  • Nilgiri Langur 
  • Pangolin 


  • Nilgiri Wood Pigeon
  • Rufous Babbler
  • Crimson Backed Sunbird
  • Nilgiri Blue Robin
  • Grey-headed Bulbul


  • Monitor Lizard
  • Python
  • King Cobra
  • Malabar Pit Viper
  • Striped Coral Snake

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary UPSC Questions

Q. Where is Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary?

A. The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Idukki district of the Indian state of Kerala. It is situated within the Western Ghats, a mountain range that runs along the southwestern coast of India. The sanctuary's geographic coordinates are approximately:

Q. When was Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary established?

A. The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary was established in the year 1976. It was during this year that the Government of Kerala, recognizing the ecological importance of the area and the need for conservation, designated the surrounding forested lands as a protected wildlife sanctuary under the Wildlife Protection Act of India. Since then, the sanctuary has served as a crucial habitat for various plant and animal species native to the Western Ghats region and has contributed to the conservation efforts in the area.

Q. Where is the headquarters of Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary?

A. The headquarters of the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Painavu, which is the district headquarters of Idukki district in the state of Kerala, India. Painavu serves as the administrative center for the Idukki district, and it's likely where the administrative functions and management of the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary are based. 

Q. What is Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary famous for?

A. The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for its rich biodiversity and its role in conserving the unique ecosystems of the Western Ghats region. Here are some of the key reasons why the sanctuary is renowned:

1. Western Ghats Biodiversity: The sanctuary is situated within the Western Ghats, which is recognized as a global biodiversity hotspot. It's famous for its diverse range of plant and animal species, many of which are endemic or found only in this region.

2. Varied Habitats: The sanctuary encompasses a variety of ecosystems, including tropical evergreen forests, semi-evergreen forests, grasslands, and more. This diversity of habitats supports a wide range of flora and fauna.

3. Endemic Species: The Western Ghats is home to numerous species that are found nowhere else in the world. The sanctuary contributes to the conservation of these endemic species.

4. Wildlife: The sanctuary is home to various animal species, including elephants, tigers, leopards, bison, and a variety of bird species. This makes it a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers.

5. Hydroelectric Project: The sanctuary's history is intertwined with the Idukki Hydroelectric Project, which involved the construction of dams and reservoirs. This project, while serving energy needs, has also impacted the local ecosystem, and the sanctuary plays a role in mitigating its effects.

6. Ecotourism: The sanctuary offers opportunities for eco-tourism, providing visitors with a chance to experience the beauty of the Western Ghats, trek through its forests, and observe its wildlife.

7. Conservation Efforts: Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary plays a vital role in conserving the Western Ghats' unique ecosystems and endemic species, contributing to regional and global conservation efforts.

8. Scenic Beauty: The sanctuary's location in the Western Ghats provides stunning landscapes, with rolling hills, lush forests, and water bodies, making it a picturesque destination for nature lovers and photographers.

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary

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