Nilgiri Langur feeding on tree

Nilgiri Langur – The vulnerable primate species of South India.

When I was assigned the Tamilnadu Tourism project; which eventually turned to be a life changing one for me, the most exciting part for me was the Wild-life segment. “The Nilgiri Langur”

I covered two National Parks, 2 wildlife sanctuaries and good numbers of forest reserves and bird-sanctuaries during my 3 months’ project. The majority of wildlife destinations of Tamilnadu are in Nilgiri, Coimbatore, Dindigal and Ramnathpuram Districts. During my preparation and research work before the actual shoot, I found one of my key subject was to be the Nilgiri Langur. The constraint of time was one of the major hurdles of my project and we hardly got 30 minutes to one hour for each of our assigned locations. And to shoot wildlife it seemed just impossible. So what I did was, I tried to save my time in other locations and gave myself few extra hours to be able to shoot at least the major wildlife species of Tamilnadu.

Anamalai Tiger Reserve
Anamalai Tiger Reserve
Flock of langur with ficus tree

In various forest ranges of Nilgiri District including Mudumalai and Mukurthi National Park my search for Nilgiri langur was on.

But we were not lucky enough to see this species.

Nilgiri Langur feeding on tree

In Coimbatore district, we had to cover Anamalai Tiger Reserve from three entry points and the first was Topslip. Topslip is a crowded tourist entry point of the Tiger Reserve. What I had read about this species during my research was that, it was very shy in nature and often stayed inside the deep forests, out of the sights of human. But I was surprised to get my first encounter with this species in Topslip. A large flock was there, feeding on a large ficus tree surrounded by lots of human activities. I realized that this flock is facing problem of food and had to come out from deep forests and may be now habituated with human activities.

Next day, early in morning we started towards Valparai Hills and entered Anamalai Tiger Reserve from entry point two. Valparai is an extraordinary hill station with lush green forests, large valleys covered with Tea gardens, Fifty-Six Hair Pin turns and stiff roads and the home of Nilgiri Tahr. I had to cover Valparai and shoot it as Hill station, Eco-Tourism destination and Wildlife destination. It’s not easy to shoot the same place in three different perspectives. Along with that, I had to cover three more small destinations within that hill range including a dam.

Tea Gardens of Valparai
Tea-Gardens of Valparai

My best encounter with this species was on the road towards the Sholayar dam. It was a sudden encounter with these females (cover picture), both were sitting on a road side tree against the light. The whole area was mostly covered with coffee plantations. I came to see this species in two to three others locations of Valparai on that same date. My last encounter with this species was in Kodaikanal Wild Life Sanctuary located in Kodaikanal hills of Dindigul district.

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The Nilgiri Langur is strictly arboreal in habit. Nilgiri langurs’ distribution is ranged from Tamilnadu, Kerala and to Coorg of Karnataka.

A pair of female Nilgiri Langur with their newborns.

In Tamilnadu they are found mostly in the hilly districts which share a border with Kerala and Western Ghats. As per the 2011-12 census the total population of this Vulnerable species was less than 15000 individuals. And in present time it must be much less than that. Deforestation, habitat destruction, forest fragmentation, lack of feeding trees are the major reasons of its declining population. In some parts of Kerala this species was traditionally hunted following myths that soup or broth made from the flesh of the Nilgiri langur was effective in curing asthma, whooping cough and effective remedy to strengthen the weak. Though these hunting habits are now decreasing with time, still the declining population of this beautiful species is a major concern for a wildlife lover like me and many more.With this my hunt continued for the next targeted wildlife species which has a very interesting story. Please keep following my blog for more updates and stories for the same.

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