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HABITAT MANAGEMENT

The landscape of Periyar Tiger Reserve, covering the core and buffer zones, comprises a rich diversity of habitats ranging from thick evergreen, semi-evergreen and deciduous forests, to high altitude grasslands and plantations. Each of these habitat types demands individually unique management strategies to maintain their viability and species richness, at the same time ensuring maximum utility to visitors, park managers and the flora and fauna of the region. These include species-specific management interventions, keeping in mind the habitat requirements of various endangered and endemic species. Some of the major habitat management strategies adopted in the Reserve include:

Fire protection

Fire-prone areas, primarily grasslands comprising tall grass areas, are protected with various strategies including clearing fire lines, engaging fire gangs and practicing participatory fire management. Fire lines are used to prevent natural or man-made fires from spreading out of control. Controlled pre-burning of small areas in patches also helps to minimize the risk of fires spreading.
Removal of exotic weeds
Invasive exotic species of plants pose a major threat to the indigenous flora and fauna of any eco-system. In the Reserve, exotic weeds such as Lantana, Eupatorium, Mikenia and Mimosainvisa species are annually removed in selected areas.

Maintenance of Vayals

‘Vayals’ are marshy grasslands dominated by grasses and sedges, with green vegetation present year round. These habitats play host to several species of herbivores, amphibians and microfauna and many plant species. Management strategies for vayals include ecological assessments, protection of surrounding forests and drainages and removal of invasive weed species.

Management of waterholes

In addition to natural water sources in the Reserve, some artificial waterholes have been created to ensure water availability to wild animals during summer. These waterholes are maintained as per need, taking into consideration their distribution and distance from perennial water sources, and monitored for water quality and microbial content, particularly those waterholes shared by both wildlife and livestock in fringe areas.

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