Malabar Ornithological Survey

The Malabar region lies along the south-west coast of the Indian peninsula comprising the northern parts of Kerala. It consists of, Kasargodu, Kannur, Wyanad, Kozhikode, Malappauram and Palakkad districts of Kerala state. Malabar was a district under British rule in India. The Malabar region has one of finest protected rainforest of southern Western Ghats (one of the global biodiversity hotspot) including Camel’s Hump Mountains, Silent valley National Park and new Amarambalam reserve.

Ornithologically, these forests were among the least explored till the nineties. After the “Along the trail of Salim Ali” initiative, the forest department decided to conduct the first ever extensive field survey of avifauna of the region in 2011. The task was entrusted to the same team who did the Salim Ali’s Trail.

As part of this important project, I spend another year in the forests of Malabar (2011 to 2012). We covered all 6 forest divisions of the region spending nearly 300 nights in the field, walking about1000 kilometres and collected information on 340 species of birds. This was the first field based survey of birds of the entire Malabar forest ranges. This study also improved my understanding on species composition across the Palakkad Gap, which acted as a geological barrier for many species in the past.

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