Distance from Anantya:20 Kms
Drive Time:25 min
Excursion Time:Half a day to a whole day
Essentials:Walking shoes, Umbrella, Walking stick, Goggles, Hats/scarfs, Insect repellent.
Amount of walking: Your choice
20 kms from Anantya lies the start of the Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger reserve. This forms a part of the interstate Agasthyamalai Bioshere Reserve, which extends across Kerala and Tamilnadu.
The belt on the edge of the reserve forest is a beautiful example of the possibility of harmony between man and beast. 50 years back, dwellers of the forest included tribesman locally called “Kanikara” who derived their life and food from collecting and selling forest produce primarily honey, herbs etc. In an effort to provide from them as well as protect the animals of the forest, the govt allocated small areas of forestland right at the very edge of the forest to these families. To this day, the families live on this boundary. They practice subsistence agriculture of hetrogenous plants which they consume - Jackfruit, Mango, Tapioca, Passion fruit, Coconut, Pepper, Rubber, which they tap themselves.. South Americans discovered Rubber similarly – as a wild tree known to the Local Forest dwellers. The Kanisknow their mountains and also have intricate knowledge of various medicinal herbs and plants. Supplied with electricity, and with some modern comforts these people still live lives, which have a very small Eco footprint. Education has reached the kani folks with a lot of the younger generation attending schools and college. The older generation still is happy living in areas accessible only by Jeep and long walks from buses and other forms of transport. They are not isolated, travelling extensively and connected to the current times, but still choose to live simple frugal lives in their simple Mud walled houses.
A 20-minute drive by Jeep to the Edge of the forest... Drive through neatly ordered rubber plantations on flat terrain. Both sides of the road have “Pavadai” Clad rubber trees.... in one portion the road is cut right through a small hillock. Both sides of the road are filled with wild ferns growing on the cut mountainside. The moisture-laden soil offering a perfect spot for ferns. You will see the canal from which water from Chittar I gushes in to Chittar II and small and big rubber estates. These suddenly give way to the wild disorderly totally beautiful forest. Tall old trees of different species, with dense undergrowth.Many different varieties of insects, birds, small animals – wild boar, Hares, Leopards, Elephants, Tigers inhabit the reserve.
Walk a while near the resettlement. Partake of a humble meal of tapioca cooked in front our eyes with some fresh tender coconut water and the fruit of the season. Hear the stories of “ VenuKanni “ experiences in the wild and the lives of their families. Watch him climb up a tree nimble and quick.