Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve

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Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
Doddabetta view.jpg
Nilgiri Hills from the top of Doddabetta Peak
Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve.jpg
Map of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve 1/1,300,000.
LocationSouth India
Coordinates11°33′00″N 76°37′30″E / 11.55000°N 76.62500°E / 11.55000; 76.62500Coordinates: 11°33′00″N 76°37′30″E / 11.55000°N 76.62500°E / 11.55000; 76.62500
Area5,520 km2 (2,130 sq mi)

The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is an International Biosphere Reserve in the Western Ghats and Nilgiri Hills ranges of South India. The Nilgiri Sub-Cluster is a part of the Western Ghats, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012.[1] It is the largest protected forest area in India, spreading across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.[2] It includes the Aralam, Mudumalai, Mukurthi, Nagarhole, Bandipur and Silent Valley national parks, as well as the Wayanad, Karimpuzha, and Sathyamangalam wildlife sanctuaries.

A fascinating ecosystem of the hill ranges of Nilgiris and its surrounding environments covering a tract of over 5000 square kilometers was constituted as Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in September 1986 under Man and Biosphere Programme. Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve is India's first and foremost biosphere reserves with a heritage, rich in flora and fauna. Tribal groups like the Badagas, Todas, Kotas, Irullas, Kurumbas, Paniyas, Adiyans, Edanadan Chettis, Allar, Malayan, etc., are native to the reserve.[3] India's natural Gold fields are also located in the regions in and around Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve scattered in the states of Karnataka, Kerala,[4][5] and Tamil Nadu.[6]


The reserve encompasses 5,520 km² in the states of Tamil Nadu (2537.6 km²), Karnataka (1527.4 km²) and Kerala (1455.4 km²). It forms an almost complete ring around the Nilgiri Plateau. The biosphere lies between 10°50′N and 12°16′N latitude and 76°00′E to 77°15′E longitude.

The reserve extends from the tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, tropical moist forests of the western slopes of the Ghats to the tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests tropical dry forests on the east slopes. Rainfall ranges from 500mm to 7000mm per year. The reserve encompasses three ecoregions, the South Western Ghats moist deciduous forests, South Western Ghats montane rain forests, and South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests.


Fauna includes over 100 species of mammals, 370 species of birds, 80 species of reptiles, about 39 species of fish, 31 amphibians and 316 species of butterflies. It is home to Mammals like Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, black panther, gaur, Indian elephant, chital deer, sambar deer, blackbuck, Indian brown mongoose, honey badger, Malabar giant squirrel, Nilgiri marten, and Nilgiri tahr. The Primates here are lion-tailed macaque, Bonnet macaque, Nilgiri langur, and Gray langur. Reptiles found here are Indian python, king cobra, Indian cobra, and mugger crocodile. The birds here are Indian peacock, Nilgiri pipit, Nilgiri laughing thrush, Nilgiri flycatcher, great Hornbill, and Malabar grey hornbill.

It has the largest population of two endangered species, the lion-tailed macaque and Nilgiri tahr.[7] The Nilgiri biosphere reserve hosts more than 400 tigers, having more tigers than any other place on earth.


The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is very rich in plant diversity. Tropical rainforest habitat is dominant but Montane forest and Tropical moist forest habitats are also found. About 3,300 species of flowering plants can be seen here. Of the 3,300 species, 133 are endemic to the reserve. The genus Poeciloneuron is exclusively endemic to the Nilgiris. Some of the plants entirely restricted to the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve include species of Adenoon, Calycanthus, Baeolepis, Frerea, Jarodina, Wagatea, Poeciloneuron, etc.

Of the 175 species of orchids found in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, eight are endemic. These include endemic and endangered species of Vanda, Liparis, Bulbophyllum and Thrixspermum. The Shola montane temperate grasslands of the reserve are a treasure house of rare plant species.

About 80% of flowering plants reported from Western Ghats occur in Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.[8]

Core and buffer areas[edit]

The 1986 designation by the Government of India established core and buffer areas within the biosphere reserve.[9]

  • Core area: 1250.3 km² (701.8 km² in Karnataka, 264.5 km² in Kerala, 274 km² in Tamil Nadu)
  • Buffer area: 4280 km²

Protected Areas under biosphere[edit]

  • Silent Valley National Park
  • Mukurthi National Park
  • Karimpuzha Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Bandipur-Nagarhole Tiger Reserve
  • Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Correspondent, Legal (27 January 2021). "Conservationist joins SC panel on elephant corridor case". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  3. ^ About Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR) Archived 24 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine -
  4. ^ "Physical divisions of Malappuram" (PDF). pp. 21–22.
  5. ^ "Mineral Resources in Kerala".
  6. ^ Premkumar, Rohan (10 March 2018). "The clandestine gold diggers of the Nilgiris". The Hindu. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  7. ^ India:Physical Environment-P:66
  8. ^ India:Physical Environment-P:66
  9. ^ Ranjit Daniels, R. J. (1996). The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve: A Review of Conservation Status with Recommendations for a Wholistic Approach to Management. Working Paper No. 16, 1996. UNESCO (South-South Cooperation Programme), Paris. [2]