Mudumalai, which means, “the ancient hill”, is a scenic forest land situated amidst the picturesque mountains of the Nilgiri range. It is mainly famous for the Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, and also the Mudumalai tiger reserve centre. It is under consideration to be made a World Heritage site by the UNESCO.
Geographically, the Mudumalai National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary lies on the north-eastern side of the Blue Mountains or Nilgiris. Bordering the states of Kerala and Karnataka, the national park is located about 150 km from Coimbatore city, in the state of Tamil Nadu. The Mudumalai National Park has a strategic position, as it forms the wildlife corridor connecting different regions of the Western Ghats. To the north, it is bordered by the Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary and the Nagarhole National park; west by the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and in the south side by the Mukurthi national park and the Silent Valley National park.
It is the first South Indian National park, founded in the 1940s. The sanctuary is divided into five ranges- Masinagudi, Thepakadu, Mudumalai, Kargudi and Nellakota, each with its own varieties of flora and fauna. In April 2007, the Tamil Nadu State government declared Mudumalai to be a tiger reserve under article 38V of the wildlife protection act of 1972. Many people, predominantly tribal, livings in the core area were evicted and relocated. The people living in the 5 km buffer zone were allowed to stay there and became trackers and guides and are some of the greatest advocates of ecotourism in the region.
Mudumalai National park is home to an amazing array of flora and fauna, some of which are endangered. There is a high density of animal and plant life here, which roughly includes about 50 species of fishes, 21 species of amphibians, 34 species of reptiles, about 200 or more species of birds and 50 species of mammals. 13% of all mammal species in India call Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary their home. Indian elephant, Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, Indian white rumped vulture, long billed vulture etc. are some of the animals that have been spotted here. Also seen here are a number of wild varieties of cultivated plants such as wild rice, wild ginger, solanum etc. among other flora.
The tourism sector in Mudumalai focuses on activities such as sightseeing, jungle safari, elephant rides, elephant feeding camps, wildlife photography, and sightseeing through the Moyar River etc. The tourism industry focuses on showcasing the natural landscape of the Mudumalai National park as it is.
Evidently enough, being the natural habitat of such a wide variety of plants and animals has its own problems. Man-made disasters including wildfires, poaching and pollution are a rising threat to the creatures living here. Tourism, if properly employed can bring more visitors to the Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary and if the visitors are careful enough, maybe, just maybe, Mudumalai may become a shining example of how man and nature can coexist peacefully.