Nilgiri Pipit (Anthus nilghiriensis) is a species endemic to the high-altitude grasslands of the Western Ghats and threatened by habitat loss. They feed largely on seeds and insects. They nest in the grass and their clutch size consists of 2-3 brown speckled eggs. Recently, while walking in a patch of grasslands being revived at Anamudi Shola in Kerala, we saw the bird, a sign that the rewilding is bearing fruit!
In 2019, a forest fire destroyed the invasive wattle plantations in this area. As a part of the restoration process, the forest department decided to take this opportunity to reintroduce the native grassland species. An eco-nursery to raise saplings has been established near the Nature Education Centre at Pampadum Shola National Park. An area of 50 hectares is being restored to the native montane shola grasslands in Anamudi Shola National Park. This was part of the India High Range Mountain Landscape initiative by the Global Environment Facility, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, UNDP, and the Government of Kerala.
Local youth are being engaged to carry out the plantation and monitor growth. The first phase of the plantation has now started to show results. Buoyed by these efforts, the forest department is now looking to expand this work in other areas in the Shola National Parks region.
Anamudi Shola National Park is a small reserve with a total area of 7.5 sq km, consisting of Mannavan Shola, Idivara Shola, and Pullardi Shola. It is located in the Western Ghats of the Idukki district in Kerala. Sholas or high elevation evergreen forests interspersed with grasslands are characterized by dense formations of stunted trees. The elevation within this national park ranges from 2,152-2,305 m.
Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'
The Nilgiri Pipit is a heavily streaked pipit with a prominent white eyebrow. This species was spotted in a 50 hectare patch that is being restored to the native montane shola grasslands in Anamudi Shola which was destroyed by fire. It occurs on grassy upland slopes interspersed with bushes and trees, mainly above 1500m.