Lion Tailed Monkeys at Puthuthottam Dec 2011
Trip Start Jan 12, 2012
27Trip End Ongoing
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Lion tailed macaques, Valparai, Puthuthottam
We had now settled comfortably in our guest house. The Nepali night watchman instantly recognized us from the previous year and was only too happy to find someone he could converse with in Hindi. People in the neighbourhood also recognized us from before. I guess not too many older couples spend a whole week here doing nothing but roaming around. It is a small town after all where everyone knows everyone else. The folks at the Plaza Restaurant where we took our meals, were also very kind and went out of their way to give us food of our preference. We felt very much at home.
We set off the next morning at a leisurely pace towards the Parry Agro estate, in the hope of seeing their resident herd of [pet] bisons. On our last visit, the herd would cross the main road promptly at 10am each day!
A solitary Lion tailed monkey and a giant squirrel were on the tall trees of the Puthuthottam forest. Soon we reached the vast Parry Agro Estates.
There were no bisons in sight. The workers there said the bisons had changed their timings. They had crossed the road early in the morning and would now return to graze only at 5pm. Oh well, we would surely see them one of these days. It was a pleasing walk anyway.
Red whiskered bulbul said "What about me?"
The sun was getting to be intense if not hot, and we decided to saunter back. As we passed the Puthuthottam estate workers quarters, Joseph, the Monkey Watcher – yes Monkey Watcher – called out to us. He pointed to the roof of one of the houses, where the gang had just arrived for lunch. They love the chow chow vegetables grown by the estate workers which are surely much tastier than the fruits of the forest. Besides, who does not crave variety in their diet?
Joseph and Dharmaraj are the official Monkey Watchers employed by the Nature Conservation Foundation, an NGO supported by the estates, engaged in restoration of rainforest and protection of the Lion tailed monkeys and other fauna of the Anamalais.
Their main duty is to see that the monkeys do not get run over by speeding motorists. We knew Dharmaraj from our last visit and had been introduced to Joseph the previous day. A bridge for the monkeys was put up when we were there last year but the monkeys do not use it, preferring to cross the road – much like pedestrians not using the fancy skywalks in Mumbai!
The famed Lion Tailed Macaques of Puthuthottam were certainly out in full force, regaling us with their antics.
The estates provide quarters for their workers, as well as clinics and hospitals. They provide free transport for the workers children to attend schools in Valparai.
Bidding adieu to Joseph, we continued on our way. Barely had we turned the corner, and there was Mummy, Daddy and Baby Lion Monkey on the branch of a tree!
It was quite amazing because on our previous trip, we had seen Lion Tailed Monkeys just once. Even Dharmaraj said that they did not return for many days after when we saw them then.
A handsome Puss was posing on the ledge next door, when we returned to our room. Im sure one of his distant ancestors was a tiger!
In the evening we walked into the Nadumalai estate right next door passing by two pretty bulbuls on the way.
Red Whiskered Bulbuls were everywhere, every day. They are delightful birdies.
The sun was about to set and the skies were changing colour rapidly. Some clouds looked like flying saucers in the sky at the end of another glorious day.