The Western Ghats is a 1600 km long chain of mountain ranges along the Western side of India, which is one among the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites and one of the ten ‘Hottest Biodiversity Hotspots’ in the world. Kerala is one of the major tourist destinations in the country with its silvery coast, serpentine backwaters, coconut grove swaying to the south-west wind and Western Ghats covered in aromatic spice ,tea plantation. Munnar located at about 5,200 ft above the sea level and the windward portion of the Western Ghats, which has the widest width in this tract. Floristically, the tract is one of the richest areas in the country harbouring not less than 3800 species of angiosperms, which is 27% of flowering plants in the country. Among these 1272 species are endemic to southern Western Ghats. Munnar gets its name as the meeting point of three rivers. Similarly in Munnar , we see the mixture of three cultures – the British culture, the Malayalee culture and the culture of the migrant Tamilians .
The flora of Chinnar Sanctuary includes a stunning variety of flowering plants numbering upto 965 species. Rare medicinal plants, many of them endemic to the Western Ghats, can also be found in the sanctuary. The Grasslands cover the plateau and descending slopes above 2000 m. More than three hundred species have been recorded from the grasslands, out of which 51 are endemic to the Montane Grasslands of the Western Ghats. The vegetation of the sanctuary falls under six categories. They are Southern tropical thorn forest (Scrub jungle), Southern dry mixed deciduous forest (Dry deciduous forest), Southern moist mixed deciduous forest (Moist deciduous forest), Tropical riparian fringing forest (Riparian forest), and Southern montane wet temperate forest (Hill shola forest) and Southern montane wet grassland (Grasslands). The major grass species in this area are Andropogon lividus, Arundinella spp, Digitaria spp. And Sehima nervosum. Numerous species of balsams and ground orchids also beautify the grasslands. Munnar is well known for its vast expanse of the Neelakurinji, botanically termed as Strobilanthus kunthiana. that blooms once in every twelve years and covers the mountains of Munnar with a glorious blue carpet. The Tree Fern species (Cyathea nilgiriensis and Cyathea crinita) are rare, endemic ferns in the shola forests. They give Munnar a feeling of the ‘fossil ecosystem’ of prehistoric time (Paleozoic Era).
The varied and numerous microclimates of the misty mountains behave as unique resort to many threatened and endemic species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and invertebrates. There are more than 49 species of mammals recorded from the Munnar hills. The Grizzled Giant Squirrel is found only in the riparian forest of the Chinnar Sanctuary. The rare Manjampatti White Bison, a gaur noted for its distinctive ash-grey color, is another special inhabitant spotted in the sanctuary. Other important mammals found are the rare Rusty Spotted Cat, Nilgiri Tahr, Elephant, Tiger, Leopard, Gaur, Wild Boar, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Porcupine, Wild Dog, Common Langur, Bonnet Macaque, Jackal, Sloth Bear, Nilgiri Langur, Jungle Cat, Bison, Spotted Deer and Sambar.
Reptiles: The sanctuary is noted for the presence of a whopping 52 species of reptiles. Nilgiri Keelback (Amphiesma beddomei), an endemic snake species found only in the Nilgiris and Western Ghats is a rare inhabitant. Besides Echis carinatus, species belonging to different families like the Blind Snake group, Colubrid, Boas, Elapids and Viperids are found in the sanctuary.
Amphibians: Among the 15 species of amphibians, the Black Torrent frog (Micrixalus saxicola), a small frog species found in forest streams, is endemic to Kerala. Others include Ridged Toad (Bufo parietalis), Malabar Flying Frog (Rhacophorus malabaricus) and Night Frog (Nyctibatrachus genus); all endemic to the Western Ghats.
Fishes: The Chinnar and Pambar rivers which flow through the sanctuary are home to around 14 species of fishes, including Garra mullya, Barilius gatensis, Danio aequipinnatus, Tor khudree, Puntius carnaticus and Garra gotyla stenorhynchus and Barilius bandelisis.
Avian life: The sanctuary is home to a thriving avian life including Yellow Throated Bulbul. 225 species of birds have been spotted. 156 species of butterflies are also present. During the monsoon season, the sanctuary witnesses migration of butterflies.