Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary, lovingly called the ‘Land of the Butterflies’, is the northern most protected area of Kerala. It was constituted in the year 1984 and is located in Kannur district. It forms the watershed area of Cheenkannipuzha and Urittipuzha, the tributaries of Valapattanam River, the main source of water for Kannur district. 


The major vegetation types of the sanctuary are:

  • West coast tropical evergreen forest
  • West coast tropical semi evergreen forest
  • South Indian moist deciduous forest
  • Southern hilltop evergreen forest

Surveys conducted by eminent scientists report 961 species of flowering plants, 239 species of trees, 65 species of pteridophytes and 123 species of bryophytes from the sanctuary and many of these species are endemic to the Western Ghats. The presence of the only compact protected patch (in Kerala) of a unique vegetation known as the Dipterocarpus-Mesua-Palaquium subtype makes the sanctuary special.

Cochin forest cane turtle – Vijayachelys silvatica Photo: Sandeep Das

Talk by Nithin Divakar about the Aralam wildlife sanctuary conducted as part of National Wildlife Week


Surveys have identified 48 species of mammals in the sanctuary. Of these, the Travancore Flying Squirrel and the Malabar Spiny Dormouse deserve special mention. The diurnal primates found in the sanctuary are the Lion-tailed Macaque, Bonnet Macaque, Nilgiri Langur, and Malabar Langur. The only species of nocturnal primate seen in the sanctuary is the Malabar Slender Loris.

Thirty-five species of frogs and three species of Caecilians have also been reported from the sanctuary and the majority of these are endemic to the Western Ghats. A few examples of amphibians reported from here are the Malabar Torrent Toad, Charpa Tree Frog, and the Wayanad Dancing Frog. Of the 53 species of reptiles reported from here, Roux’s Forest Lizard, Large-scaled Forest Lizard, Kottiyoor Day Gecko, and the very cryptic Cochin Forest Cane Turtle deserve a special mention. In addition, 40 species of fish have also been reported from the sanctuary. Among them, is the Denison Barb, also known as Miss Kerala.

Bird surveys are also regularly conducted in the sanctuary and 233 bird species have been reported from here. Among invertebrates, 237 species of butterflies and 59 species of odonates deserve mention and an interesting point to note is that the migratory path of the Common Albatross butterflies passes through the sanctuary, and this migration can be seen during the period from November to January.

Butterflies at Aralam wildlife sanctuary


Ecotourism programs are in place in the sanctuary and nature camps are regularly organised. Information regarding the packages on offer can be found on their website While planning a trip, please keep in mind that public transport is available only till the farm headquarters at Odanthode and visitors will require private vehicles to cover the last few kilometers to the sanctuary. 

How to reach: 

Nearest town: Iritty

Nearest railway station: Thalassery

Nearest airport: Kozhikode

Aralam Wildlife Santuary, Photo: Aruvi P

Sri Lanka Frog Mouth Batrachostomus moniliger Photo: Dhruvaraj S