Fast Trekkin': Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
We spent one night in Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary in the southern Western Ghats mountain range. Mainly grasslands dry deciduous forests and thorny scrub forests its home to notably niligiri taur, elephants, leopards, buffalo, spotted deer, bonnet macaques, deer mouse, endangered star tortoise and giant grizzled squirrel. Chinnar is unique as the indigenous people of this area still live within the park boundaries. The main inhabitants are Muthuvas and Pulavas, numbering about 1800 people in 11 settlements. They cultivate mainly, maize, ragi (millet) and lemongrass, AND according to Wikipedia, the Mudhuvas carry out small scale ganja cultivation for their religious purposes.
The park works with the tribes by training individuals as guides and wildlife trackers. Although the program can be improved, it’s a great start to finding ways to respect the indigenous ways of life while providing opportunities and preserving the forests at the same time.
We were lucky enough to see some groups of buffalo, spotted deer, a host of unique birds and a star tortoise. Aside from their tracks, scat and carcass remains, we unfortunately(or fortunately?) didn’t see any elephants or leopards. Although, due it being the dry season, elephants did come down to the main camp at night to drink from the river and destroyed the main waterline and electrical system to the park headquarters. A great reminder of the caveats of living so intimately with the wildlife!