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Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary II

We are delighted to announce the purchase of an area of land on the Nilgiri Plateau, high in the Western Ghats.
From Carrington

This purchase represents the first stage of the establishment of a second Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary and will follow the same successful model of nurturing natural landscapes using a range of conservation strategies and the unique combination of skills of Gurukula’s ecosystem gardeners.

Read more about Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary here.

The Shola forests of the Nilgiri Plateau are some of the most threatened in the Western Ghats, with over 1,000 native plant species of which 40% are endemic and many appear on the IUCN Red List. These mountainous grasslands are also home to many other rare and endemic species such as the tiger Panthera tigris, Nilgiri tahr Nilgiritragus hylocrius and the Nilgiri langur Trachypithecus johnii which are also on the IUCN Red List.

A name for this second project is being explored; Thiriyannara, meaning Turning Stream, is the inherited name for the land. Options being considered include Thiriyannara Refuge or Turning Stream Refuge.

Carrington Rocks
Steep and rocky area within the land

The region is already severely fragmented and much native plant cover has been lost. The main threats to this ecosystem include human development, commercial forestry, invasive plant species and the effects of climate change. Some of the larger mammals are threatened by poaching and the herbivores rely on the native plant species for their food source.

This new high altitude land will be used highly efficiently to propagate hundreds of species, many of which will differ from those in the original sanctuary due to the difference in altitude. These plants will then be planted out in the surrounding forests and countryside therefore regenerating habitats for rehabilitated plants.

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A small habitat

GBS II will be a long term project, much like the first botanical sanctuary which was established 30 years ago and saw a gradual expansion of both land and project work over this time. The location near the Murkurthi National Park allows extension of the protected land, therefore creating biological corridors and allowing the GBS II team to work closely with park managers to adopt a unified approach.

The GBS II project is partly possible thanks to former GBS student Godwin Vasanth Bosco who will direct the work carried out there. Vasanth has been involved in many restoration initiatives in the Nilgiris, including the first grassland nursery for the high elevation plateau. It's largely thanks to him that this endeavour can be taken on, as it is vital to have a local person to anchor the project and oversee and care for the land.

The work at Gurukula over the years has had a significant impact on surrounding forest ecosystems, securing habitats for birds, amphibians, insects and rare mammals. The purchase of this new land ushers in an exciting new chapter and, in the face of climate change and increasing habitat loss, offers an important ‘toehold’ for the endemic species of plants, animals and habitats of the Western Ghats.