History of Natural History

The BR Hills shot into prominence in the the Natural history world mainly due to the writings of the R.C.Morris who wrote over 80 papers to the Bombay Natural History Society Journal about the richness of Bio-diversity of BR Hills. The Morrises comprised of two generations the senior Randolph Hayton Morris and his second son, Randolph (Ralph for short) Camroux Morris (see guest article by S.Subramanya on the Story of Morris).

Randolph Hayton Morris, son of a rector in a church and an adventurous refugee from Muthill, near Crieff, Perthshire in central Scotland, U.K. He moved to India and settled down in BR Hills in 1886 to grow coffee. His second son 1895 the R.H.Morris was gored by a Gaur during a hunting expedition which left him with only one lung. He died in 1918. In the summer of 1912, his second son Ralph gave-up his ambition of studying Zoology at Oxford, and returned to BR Hills. Based around Bedaguli he wrote extensively about the forests and wildlife. Famous visitors to the areas include Salim Ali and E.P.Gee.

The forests of BR Hills was the first place in South India where the Kheddah procedure for capturing wild elephants was perfected by George Sanderson in the later part of the nineteenth century. The forests were also the hunting reserve for the Maharaja of Mysore.

Subsequently after Independence the forests were under the jurisdiction of Forest Department, in 1994 the forests were made into the Biligiri Ranganatha Temple Wildlife Sanctuary and in January 2011 this sanctuary was declared as Biligiri Ranganatha Temple Tiger Reserve.