In Periyar Tiger Reserve there is
a rich diversity of vertebrates. The diverse forest
types, vayals, marshes, and a large aquatic habitat
together support 62 species of mammals, 320 species
of birds, 45 species of reptiles, 27 species of amphibians,
and 38 species of fishes.
The invertebrate fauna of Periyar is not well documented,
though the predominant invertebrate orders are Protozoa,
Annelida, Arthropoda and Mollusca. 160 butterfly species
have been listed.
Among the 62 species of mammals, many are rare,
endemic and endangered. Periyar is prime elephant country
and large herbs are often sighted at the lake fringes.
There is an estimated population of 900-1000 animals
which is likely to overlap with the population in the
adjoining forest areas.
A much disproportionate sex ratio
of the elephant is found in Periyar and adult tuskers
are far too few. Gaur, among the largest of bovines,
occurs in all types of habitats. Gaur have staged a
remarkable comeback after their near demise due to a
rinderpest outbreak in the 70’s.
Sambar, the largest deer in India
are extensively distributed, and constitute the principal
prey base of tiger and wild dog. Wild pig, has wide
distribution throughout the park. Some times these animals
invade agricultural lands often leading to man-wildlife
conflicts. Small relict populations of the highly endangered
Nilgiri tahr are found in the high altitude grasslands
of Mangaladevi. Four of the five primate species found
in the Western Ghats are well represented in Periyar.
While the Nilgiri langur enjoys a wide distribution
in the moist forests, the highly endangered Lion tailed
macaque are confined to the dense evergreen canopies.
Malabar giant squirrel is common in the area. Though
the presence of the endangered species, Small travancore
flying squirrel is recorded from Periyar, the Large
flying squirrel is more frequently seen.
Salim Ali’s fruit bat reported
from Periyar adjoining the High Wavys. is an endemic
and endangered species, considered to be among the rarest
The Tiger is found in all types
of habitats though their density is much less in the
evergreen forests. Though sighting one is difficult
because of the thick vegetation, evidences like pugmarks,
clawings, and scats are located throughout the reserve.
The population is estimated to be between 35–40.
The Striped necked mongoose
is not uncommon, found in the semi-evergreen and evergreen
Nilgiri marten is an extremely
rare and endemic mustellid, though recently sighted
a number of times.