Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary was a unique experience. It is on the Kozhikode – Mysore highway, an hour’s drive from Kalpetta (36 km). The sanctuary is open from 7 to 10 in the morning and 3 to 5 in the evenings. We started early morning from Kalpetta so that we could get in when the gates opened. The roads are good and there was little traffic at that time.
There is an entry fee of Rs. 500 and we were taken on an hour’s drive through the forest in a jeep. Outside vehicles are not allowed inside. The first thing we saw was a male elephant and we could see him through the morning mist. I suspect that it was a tame animal.
The roads are not tarred and the ride was bumpy at times. There was a forest guide with us in the open vehicle and he kept a lookout for wild animals and birds.
The area had received good rains in the past few weeks. There was dense vegetation on both sides of the road. Animals were probably lurking behind the bushes and few made their appearances. The guide pointed out fresh pug marks of a tiger. But the tiger himself was not to be seen,
At one point, we noticed a tree which had a big population of honeycombs. Forest honey is on sale at the store near the entry gate. The store is run by the forest department.
A number of peacocks were seen and some of them were molting after the recent monsoon season. The male peacock sports about 150 of the beautiful peacock tail feathers with which we are so familiar with. The feathers are shed each year just after the breeding season and regrown the following season.
The Kozhikode-Mysore highway is adjacent to the forest. We saw herds of deer on both sides of the road. We learnt that large numbers of animals are seen at night. Some of them even get injured by vehicles while trying to cross the roads.
There was a rice field right next to the forested area. Men and animals were existing side by side! I think that intrusions by foraging animals into cultivated areas are a distinct possibility.
The safari ended after 60 minutes. I felt that it was short and may be two hours would have given us a better experience.
I had clicked most of the photos from a moving jeep. I used a fast shutter speed of 1/320 sec to eliminate shake. It was a misty morning and I used multi-segment metering mode.