The Parambikulam tiger reserve covering 460 sq. km of tropical evergreen forest in Palakkad district is the second one of its kind in Kerala, after the earlier established Periyar tiger reserve in Idukki which is the prime sanctuary for the animals in the state. The former has been ecologically integrated with the 960 sq. km Anamalai tiger reserve in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, with the objective of supporting the tiger population which is facing a severe threat of extinction in India. The integration is also aimed at preserving the state’s biodiversity and conservation of forests and wildlife.
The Western Ghats is one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots. Parambikulam consists largely of mountainous terrain situated on the southern side of the Western Ghats, south of the Palakkad gap. This biodiversity zone is made up of tropical rainforests, semi-evergreen forests, dry-to-moist deciduous forests, shola forests and grasslands. Perched at an altitude ranging between 300 m & 1438 m above sea level, the place has rich natural resources that include vegetation, waterfalls, rivers and wildlife.
Parambikulam is a treasure trove of 1408 species of flowering plants falling under 704 genera and 136 families. The area is also known for its medicinal plants and 67 species of orchids. About 50 endangered medicinal plants are found in the Karian shola area. There are also 285 rare and endemic species of flora in the sanctuary. It is blessed with rich and diverse fauna. The rare wildlife species here include the Royal Bengal tiger, Lion-tailed macaque, Mouse deer, Wild gaur, Nilgiri marten, Great Pied hornbill, Peninsular bay owl and so on.
The sanctuary has three major reservoirs - Parambikulam, Thunakadavu and Peruvarippalam - constructed under the inter-State Parambikulam-Aliyar scheme to share the waters of the Bharathapuzha, Periyar and the Chalakudypuzha. The rivers of Kuriyarkutty and Karapara also flow through the sanctuary. The rich water source is one of the reasons for its rich biodiversity.