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Noted for its herds of elephants, at times with 50 members, Periyar wildlife sanctuary is also home to bonnet monkey, nilgai, langur, porcupine, sloth bear, tiger, leopard, barking deer, gray jungle fowl, kingfisher, and the great Indian hornbill. Spread over 770 sq km in the Western Ghats, the sanctuary encompasses Periyar Lake, formed in the early 1900s by impounding the Periyar River. At an altitude of ~1,600 m, the hilly topography has produced a lakeshore varied by numerous creeks, bays, and promontories. The vegetal cover is tropical evergreen and deciduous, with patches of dense forest including jackfruit, teak, and kokam trees. Most of the grassland is now planted with eucalyptus. [Adapted from Encyclopedia Britannica]
The reserve is named after Periyar Ramasami (1879-1973)-also called EV Ramaswami Naicker, EVR, Thanthai Periyar, or just Periyar-a social reformer, activist, and founder of Dravidar Kazhagam and the Self-respect Movement in Tamil Nadu. A devotee of rationalism, he is known for his antitheistic statement, "He who created god was a fool, he who spreads his name is a scoundrel, and he who worships him is a barbarian." VS Naipaul tracks down the history and the legacy of the man in India: A Million Mutinies. ( more )
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