Thanks to the dreaded poacher Veerapan, the Satyamangalam Forests, till his death, had remained one of the most unexplored and densest forest regions. His reign over this area was so strong that people dreaded driving through these ghats, which forms an important link between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
This place, is now going through a transformation, with the forest departments of both states (Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) focussing on Conservation of the rich flora and fauna of this region.
There are some pristine spots in this range like Thengumarada (a haven for Black Bucks), ULIKARAIPATTY (a birding haven), Thalamalai, Thalavadi, Jodigere, a part of Nagari Sanctuary etc.
Though i have been to some of these a few times earlier (under the eerie scare of an encounter with the dreaded bandit and with scores of armed forest personnel), this time it was a quick trip, more to visit an ailing friend, who owns an estate near Kollegal, very close to Thengumarada and Thimbam. I was hardly there for one night and the next day afternoon, but saw hordes of deer, two elephant groups (5 and 7 members), 3 bison, gangs of langurs, a sloth bear, two tigers and a large cross section of birds (from the common jungle fowl to the malabar hornbill). Most of this was on a drive on a SUV the first morning for barely 3 hours. Since it was a very quick trip, i did not carry any of my camera gear and i really missed them, especially when a large variety of birds played out in front of me right through the trip.
The tiger was a memorable experience. Enroute to Pulinjur, we were on a single jungle road, when our driver spotted 2 of these tigers on the other side of a small rivulet. The vehicle stopped and i just had time to shoot a couple of snaps before the tigers moved back into the thickets. I am posting the photo of the tigers but not the EXIF details since these were on a aim and shoot mega zoom, which i had borrowed from my friend at Kollegal. On the way back, we saw a large sloth bear - just 30 feet from the road on a little clearing in the jungle. It was least bothered about us and hung on for ages, posing for photographs, before slowly moving out.
This place is definitely worth spending time at and i am planning a more elaborate trip soemtime during June (b4 the rains) for a few days soon. I'll work with Sabayasachi to see if a group of us from Indiawilds can do this, of course if folks are interested.