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The sanctuary is named after the Biligiri Ranganathaswamy Temple, an ancient pilgrimage center atop the BR Hills. A protected reserve under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, it was declared a sanctuary in 1974 covering 322 sq.km and later extended to its present size in 1987. And in December 2010, the sanctuary was declared as a Tiger Reserve. Since the sanctuary is situated at the junction of the Eastern and Western Ghats, it has floral representatives of both regions. Its southern boundary adjoins the state of Tamil Nadu.
It is the only wildlife sanctuary in the state where the concept of buffer zone, tourist zone and core zone has been maintained by the Forest Department for an effective management of the sanctuary. Yelandur and Chamarajanagar are the two entry points to the Sanctuary. The Chamarajanagar is about 40 km from the sanctuary via the K Gudi Camp, while Yelandur is 18 km from the sanctuary. It is a scenic drive from the Chamarajanagar side, with the road winding up the hill via Vandarbal Village in the foothills. Those who plan to halt at Chamarajanagar for the night, one should need a prior permission from the Forest Department. Jeeps are available on hire at Chamarajanagar( Rs 1,200) and Yelandur ( Rs 600) to travel to the sanctuary.
Park entry fee : None; Vehicle fee Rs 100 per
The vegetation is predominantly of dry scrub jungle to evergreen forests and high altitude shola grassland habitat. Dry deciduous and scrub forests are found in the foothills. The deciduous forests have species such as Anogeissus latifolia, Dalbergia paniculata, Grewia tilaefolia, Terminalia alata, T. belerica, Stereospermum personatum, Boswellia serrata, Commiphora caudata, Pterocarpus marsupium and Sterculia urens in the top canopy. The lower canopy includes Buchanania lanzan, Careya arborea, Hymenodictyon excelsum, Kydia calycina, Schleichera oleosa, Sterculia villosa, Cassia fistula, Phyllanthus emblica and Radermachera xylocarpa. The evergreen forests include species of Elaeocarpus tuberculatus, Salix tetrasperma, Syzygium cumini, S. malabaricum and Viburnum punctatum. The grasslands are dominated by Cymbopogon flexuosus, C. nardus, Themeda cymbaria and T. triandra. Tectona grandis, Eucalyptus, Artocarpus sp. and Cedrela sp. are other species found in this area.
Tigers, Leopards, Elephants, Wild Dog, Jungle Cat, Sloth Bear, Small Indian Civet, Mongoose, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Flying Squirrel, Porcupine, Common Langur, Wild Pig, Gaurs, Sambar, Deers, Four-horned Antelope, and blackbuck are the main mammals found in this sanctuary. Recent census report shows that the sanctuary has noticed increased number of leopard and wild dog population. Among the 215 species of birds found here, the prominent ones are the Yellow-throated Bulbul, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Wood Pecker, Golden Back Parakeet, Rufous-bellied Hawk Eagle and Peregrine Falcon.
There are plenty of reptiles too. Monitor Lizard, Forest Calotes, Spectacled Cobra, Russell’s Viper, Saw-scaled Viper, Common Indian Krait, Indian Rock Python, Vine Snake, Rat Snake, Flying Lizard have all made their home here.
The amphibian species consists of Icthyophis ghytinosus and Caecilian. Also one can spot, 116 species of butterflies and forty eight species of ants.