Being the last remnant of the unique Shola-Grassland system and the ecological riddles associated with it, the National Park provides excellent opportunities for research and monitoring. There were many studies in the past conducted by different research institutions. Some of the notable studies were Rice (1984), Karunakaran et al (1998), Madhusudanan (1995), Easa (1996), Menon(1997) etc. In 1984, Union Christian College, Alwaye initiated the first systematic Nilgiri Tahr survey which is being carried out annually ever since. Census of Birds is conducted periodically. All these studies and census emphasize the need for continuous monitoring of vegetation and animal population in the area. The study of bio diversity of the Shola Forests is to be carried out to asses the biodiversity value of this eco system. Apart from this, it was felt that a long term monitoring on the effects of burning should be studied. Every year, the park is conducting nature education camps for school/college students and interested NGOs as part of its extension programmes. There is no institutionalized training programme as such for the park staff. Areas needing emphasis in research and monitoring is included in the relevant paragraphs of the plan.
Leopard feeding picture from camera trap
The National Park holds the largest viable population of Nilgiri Tahr and is the largest stretch of the least disturbed Shola Grassland ecosystem in the Western Ghats. The management is taken up through the eco-development committees of local dependents and involves a number of extension activities including nature awareness programmes. Being an unique ecosystem, increasing number of visitors, the participatory mode of management and constant interaction with people from different strata in the society, the staff and EDC members are in need of training on various aspects of management to deal with different the situations.
Eravikulam National Park is the largest and least disturbed Shola-Grassland ecosystem in Western Ghats. This sustains the largest viable population of endemic and endangered Nilgiri Tahr. In order to estimate the population of Tahr in Eravikulam National Park, annual Tahr census is conducted in the National Park every year.
Vaccination and Health Monitoring
Annual and periodic monitoring of animals through direct sightings and checking droppings shall be carried out with the support of veterinary officers and researchers and effective follow up steps will be pursued on emergencies.
The park is surrounded by tea estates in its southern boundary. There is one tribal settlement inside the park namely Lakkomkudy. A total of 96 cattle are there in the immediate boundary and inside the National Park. In addition, there are a number of cattle in the tea estates and also in Koodakkad Proposed Reserve adjoining the park. The monitoring of these cattle and periodic vaccination in association with the local Veterinary Department, tea estate management and EDC/VSS will be done to detect and prevent the spread of diseases from the cattle to wild animals. The fringe cattle shall be monitored and periodically vaccinated for contagious diseases.
Weather and Vegetation Monitoring
Study by Ravindranath N.H et al., 2006 predicts that the forest ecosystem will be badly affected by the process of global warming in the years to come. Hence it is highly necessary that the weather data in Eravikulam National Park is collected and analyzed to know the changes in climatic factors and correlate with the vegetation changes.
The following activities are proposed in this regard
- Installation of additional automated meteorological stations for regular recording of weather data at Rajamala, Eravikulam and Poovar
- Establishment of permanent plots and long term monitoring of the vegetation changes in the Sholas and Grasslands
Pictures from camera trap