A very beautiful and magnificent looking monkey it is! You may ask why? Imagine a monkey having a magnificent mane of hair surrounding its face like that of a lion and a black shiny hairy coat on its body. And also it has a long tail bearing an uncanny resemblance to that of a lion's.
|Lion Tailed Macaque|
But sadly due to human's encroachment on forest areas, deforestation, scarcity of fruits the population of this wonderful looking animal was at one time declared as critically less. They now live in isolated pockets only in the Nilgiri region in India and are rarely spotted.
Some of my friends who wanted to catch a glimpse of this elusive beauty had to stay in the Nilgiris for about a week before they finally got a look at this animal. However we were lucky. We visited Valparai and on the same day we saw two separate groups of lion tailed macaques(LTM). We saw one group on our way to Valparai from Pollachi. The group was about 6-7 member strong and were high up on the canopy.
|Lion Tailed Macaque|
|A group high up in the canopy|
While just entering Valparai, we heard some noises in the jungle and some calls. We stopped our car and whoa we saw an enormous group of around 30 LTMs. A lot of babies,females some males and one alpha male. The alpha male was horny on that day, chasing one female after the other. But thankfully his efforts will help in ensuring that one of the very beautiful creatures on this planet do not disappear fast.
We also saw a lot of monkey bridges, created by the forest department so that monkeys can use them while crossing the roads and the monkeys are clever enough to understand that. We did not see a single macaque cross the road, they all used the bridge.
|LTM on tree bridge|
On getting to know that a group of lion tailed macaques has arrived, a good local samaritan came out from his house holding a placard reading "Go Slow". All the cars that were passing simply stopped and everyone came out to see these beautiful creatures. This simple gesture of people and government shows that we can achieve anything if we really care about, and thankfully the lion tailed macaques are endangered but not critically endangered.
|Go Slow- LTMs crossing|
With this s major point in bucket list ticked, but again a new point is added. The Hoolock Gibbons in North East India.
Nearest Airport: The nearest airport will be Coimbatore. Alternately you can also reach from Ooty which is a popular hill station in South India by a car.
Stay: There are not too many budget stay options in Valparai. So to stay in Valparai you need to book a homestay or bunglow. Also there are not too many food shops on the way so its better to have some packaged food and water for the way.
You can take the services of the locals for spotting the lion tailed macaques. Your homestay should be able to assist you in that.
And finally be a responsible tourist. PLEASE PLEASE do not litter, do not throw plastic.