June 18, 2011

Mukurthi Again

As a past resident of the Nilgiris, discounting an oppurtunity to visit the Mukurthi National park is not a choice but an eagerly awaited stroke of fortune, as people would testify to the difficulties of permissions and prohibitive costs involved in visiting this pristine zone. I have visited the park umpteen times for very short durations and the very abundance of nature at its best compels me to look at the westward sky, everytime I pass Ooty.

Mukurthi is infact a jewel in the hill district's crown and its very existence till today speaks volumes of the conservation efforts undertaken by past conservationists in enforcing policy decisions that led to the creation of the park.

Mukurthi is located in the western crescent of the Nilgiri district, looking over the expanse of the state of Kerala and almost appears as a wall like impenetrable fortress when seen from Nilambur region of Kerala.

The park is covered by grasslands and sholas and some stretches of the invasive tree, wattle.

The Forest Department and Nilgiri Wildlife Association were organising a census to estimate the population of the endangered Nilgiri Tahr and I bounced upon the organisers. With a stroke of luck, Mohanraj Sir, who is one of the most progressive conservationists in Southern India and also one of the main organisers of the event allotted me to survey the Bison Swamp region.

The effort was worth for the sheer opportunity to see pure nature with so few disturbances.