1. The Tiger
The supreme predator and the charismatic cat is the best wildlife icon for all forest areas. BRT is blessed to have this as it’s apex predator and inspite of the odds continues to survive and co-exist with various anthropogenic disturbances in it’s habitat. The Tiger Panthera tigris given a chance would grow from strength to strength and consolidate BRT into a strong breeding unit. The tiger is spread throughout the length and breadth of BRT. A simple pugmark is the true signature that all is well with the forest.
The Honnameti Stone
Stones are great story tellers and true anchors of a landscape. Stones have over time and again been a great reference point to provide bearings to any habitat. Nowhere else int he natural habitat a single stone takes precedence like in the case of the Honnameti Kallu a natural single stone with it’s elegant shape and more importantly significant location atop one of the highest points of BRT becomes a striking natural points around which the BRT tiger reserve weaves it’s canopy in all directions spreading far and wide. This stone is a great testimony to the land’s geography and to the vagaries of the climate. This stone is not just a stone but the very heart of the tiger reserve and a truly deserving geological icon.
3. Black Eagle
The Black Eagle
Patrolling the skies is this iconic avian predator the Black Eagle with it’s phantom like habits and guarding over rocky cliffs and swooping around the canopy in low light. This majestic eagle is the embodiment of freedom. A simple sighting of this bird will lift the mood of the viewer by many a miles. Once seen, never forgotten is the true appendage for a sighting of this bird. With it’s trademark spread out primaries in flight like the fingers of a palm and distinguishing yellow beak and legs, this bird is or icon in the sky.
The Four-horned Antelope
This beautiful antelope is hardly known inspite of being well widespread in most habitats. This is mainly due to it’s solitary and shy nature. Taking flight at the slightest intrusion, many do not get a glimpse of it even after many drives into it’s habitat. This antelope Tetracerus quadricornis has two pairs of horns one a longer pair on the head and the other very small stubs a little close to the forehead. In the southern sub-species the front stubs are reduced to mere lumps on the forehead. The antlers are never shed and this species continues to thrive in the foothills of BRT-TR and possibly represents the best stronghold for the species in South India. This nimble and fleeting beauty is our speed icon.
5. Eagle Owl
The Spot-bellied Eagle Owl
If a bird can call and curdle the blood of many bravehearts this is the bird which can do so. This eagle-sized owl is the night watchman of the enchanted forest. Sholigas the local tribe abhor the call of the bird and flee even from it’s calls. This bird is one of the best nocturnal predator inspite of it’s amazing size this bird glides easily into the dense canopies and picks up it’s meal with amazing accuracy. It’s prey ranges from small mice to the large mouse deer. This bird is very prevalent in the higher reaches of the BRT Tiger Reserve. A very deserving nocturnal icon for BRT.
6. Sholiga Frog
The Sholiga Frog
BRT-TR is not all about it’s big and large icons but also of those which are small and significant. Significant is the right word because frogs are the greatest bio-indicators of our changing planet are also the least understood in the modern day science. Not surprisingly this diminutive frog was incidentally found close the Spiritual Icon of the Doddasampige Stream less than a decade ago. This frog is very new to science and is known to exist only in BRT Tiger Reserve and nowhere else in the world. A very apt taxonomical nomenclature of the Microhyla sholigari named after the local tribe ‘Sholigas’ will render this iconic frog much the the delight of Anthropologists and Batrachologists alike.
The Doddasampige Tree
If the Honnameti Stone is the heart of the tiger reserve, The Doddasampige is the spirit of the tiger reserve. The giant of a tree Michelia champaka located deep inside an enchanting riveraine habitat grows to colossal proportions and for ages has been the guiding spirit of the forest. Testimony to this is the numerous religious stones which adorn it. People from far and wide travel to this great marvel of nature to worship and pay obeisance for the supreme soul of the forest. Nowhere else is a similar parallel and thus BRT adds this jewel in the crown as it’s esteemed icon.
8. Tree Shrew
The Madras Tree Shrew
If there has to be an enigmatic icon anywhere in the world then it has to be the Madras Tree Shrew Anathana ellioti. Morphologically located at the cross-roads between a squirrel, mongoose and a rat, this tree shrew is a specialized feeder. It’s habitat niches are so demanding that this animal exists only in certain pockets of the country. Surprisingly this shrew holds on it’s own inspite of many predators. BRT-TR forests are considered as the best place to sight this enigmatic animal. Even upon many focused trips one is never assured of a sighting and even if one is lucky to have a glimpse it tends to be so fleeting that one is left pondering whether he or she really saw one. This tenacious shrew is BRT’s chosen icon.
9. Ground Gecko
The Kollegal Ground Gecko
if the name is the only indication then our next icon is the Kollegal Ground Gecko Geckoella kollegalensis which was initially described to science from Kollegal a locality within BRT tiger reserve. A very attractive gecko, which has very colorful spots and prefers rocky habitats and mainly nocturnal. This gecko though small leads an active life. Frequently moulting to put a good show of it’s spots to hold on to territories and attracting mates. This small creature though named after Kollegal but is very widespread right accross the Western Ghats. It is but quite natural that a species, which has woven into science from the very origin of type locality, should figure in our icon list.