In 1895, the Periyar Lake was formed, after the Government of the erstwhile Travancore State permitted the Madras State to construct the Mullaperiyar Dam across Periyar River to provide irrigation facilities to Tamil Nadu. In the year 1899, the forests around the Lake with an extent of 600.88km2 were declared as Periyar Lake Reserve Forests – No. 39. Realizing the importance of game preservation, the Travancore State in 1933 appointed Mr. S.C.H. Robinson, a retired Land Commissioner as the Game Warden. On his recommendation, an area around the lake was declared as the Nellikkampetti Game Sanctuary in 1934 with the headquarters at Peermedu. In 1950 the Nellikampatti Game Sanctuary was expanded into Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary (777 Km2) by adding the adjoining forests of Rattendon Valley (12.95 Km2) and Mount Plateau (163.17 Km2) to the Periyar Lake Reserve.
Considering the importance of the sanctuary in respect of its tiger population, the area was brought under Project Tiger in 1978 as the 10th Tiger Reserve in India, and named as Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR). In 1982, an extent of 350.54 km2 was notified as Periyar National Park. In 1991 the area was included as part of Project Elephant Reserve No.10. The then Tiger Reserve had one territorial division with its headquarters at Thekkady. A functional division (about 50km2) namely ‘Grass Land Afforestation Division’ (GLAD), with an overlapping jurisdiction over the Tiger Reserve was also operating from Peermedu. The GLAD was established with the objective to raise pulp wood plantation. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India banned all sorts of extraction works without approved Management Plan/Working Plan in 1996. But all the extraction activities were stopped during 1999 in view of subsequent orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
By including the areas of GLAD, PTR was reorganized during 2001 into two territorial divisions, viz., Periyar East and Periyar West with headquarters at Thekkady and Peermedu respectively. The India Ecodevelopment Project (IEDP) was implemented in Periyar Tiger Reserve from 1996 to 2004. For sustaining eco-development initiatives, a trust named Periyar Foundation was established in 2004, which has become a model for the country.
In 2007, the core or critical tiger habitat of PTR was notified with an extent of 881 km2 which includes 733 km2 of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary Proper and 148 km2 of Reserved Forests in the adjoining Goodrickal Range of Ranni Division. An extent of 44 km2 of Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary Proper is proposed as the buffer for tiger reserve. History of Periyar Tiger Reserve in brief:
North: Peerumedu taluk
South: Pathanamthitta district
East: Theni, Thirunelveli & Ramnad District of Tamilnadu
West: Kottayam district
Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) is situated in the Cardamom Hills and Pandalam Hills of the Southern Western Ghats of peninsular India. The major portion of the Reserve forms the catchment of the river Periyar and the rest that of river Pamba. Administratively, PTR falls in Idukki, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts of Kerala state. The reserve is divided into two functional divisions, each managed by a Deputy Director. Periyar East is the larger division with an area of 707 sq.km and headquartered at Thekkady, where most of the tourism activities are centred. This Division is divided into three Ranges – Thekkady, Periyar and Vallakkadavu.
Periyar West division (218 sq.km) has its headquarters at Peermedu and is divided into two Ranges, Azhutha and Pamba. Each Range under a Range Officer is further divided into Sections and Beats, looked after by Foresters and Forest Guards respectively.