I had the opportunity to vist the Silent Valley National Park situated in the Palakkad district of Kerala. This protected and un-disturbed tropical evergreen forest is the last habitat for a few of India’s engendered species of fauna and flora.
I was accompanied by my friend Mr Jitendra Sharma in this trip. We reached Coimbatore in the morning of 14th Feb 2011 and were picked up by a cab arranged and sponsored by prof Sekar Keerthi, Dept of Bio Science, Coimbatore Arts College. We reached Mukkali Forest Office, the gateway to Silent Valley National Park after one and half hour drive. Prof. Sekar had already arranged our stay in the IB at Mukkali, where we dumped our baggage and got ready to explore the beauty of Silent Valley. Here is a brief of my experiences at Silent Valley National Park.
On 14th morning we trekked about 14km across the Atpadi buffer zone and clicked a few butterfly shot. We could not see any wild animals except pug marks and dung of elephants. I clicked a few butterflies from areas near forest streams.
The Commander (Moduza procris) is beautiful butterfly of the Nymphalidae family. The males are territorial. It loves to come and settle down at damp patches as well as flowers. Both sexes are similar tawny in colour with prominent white spots on both wings.
Common Map (Cyrestis thyodamas)The Common Map (Cyrestis thyodamas) is another beautiful Nyphalid found in the hilly reagions of evergreen forests. Flight is slow and jerky. Comes down to streams and damp patches.
The next day we entered the Silent Valley National park in a chartered Jeep and witnessed the beauty and might of this beautiful piece of land on earth. Apart from butterflies we witnessed the Nilgiri Languor (Trachypithecus johnii) and the Malabar Giant Squirrel (Ratufa indica). The 22 km journey was filled with thrill of possible witness to wildlife which was not seen. Several species of birds including Malabar Trogan (Harpactes fasciatus) and Asian Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi).
We reached a spot bubbling with butterflies mudpuddling near a mountain stream and clicked many species. The following butterflies were clicked there.
Clipper (Parthenos sylvia) is large Nymphalidae butterfly found in heavily wooded regions. Flies gracefully over the canopy.
Indigo Flash (Rapala varuna) is small butterfly of the Lycaenidae family. It is seen on flowers and damp patches in the wooded regions.
Transparent 6-line Blue (Nacaduba kurava) is small butterfly of the Lycaenidae family. It is a strong flier and settles down on dry twigs. Prefers evergreen forests and loves bird droppings.
Red Helen (Papilio helenus) is a Swallowtail butterfly found in the forested hilly regions. Visits often to nearby gardens and loves moist patches.
Apart from butterflies I also clicked the two mammals endemic to the Western Ghats and Nilgiries.
Nilgiri Langur (Trachypithecus johnii) is a lutung type monkey found in the Nilgiri Hills.
Malabar giant squirrel (Ratufa indica) is a large squirrel found in the upper canopy of of forests. he Giant Squirrel is mostly active in the early hours of the morning and in the evening, resting in the midday. It is a shy, wary animal and not easy to discover.