We have been wanting to visit Anaimalai Hills in the Western Ghats for a long time to spot the endangered species of Lion-tailed Macaque. But we had been postponing it because of the lack of good places to stay. However, all that changed when we heard about Sinna Dorai bungalow in Valparai, a small hill station, located in Anaimalai Hills. The drive from Aliyar dam (above) located at the foothills of the Valparai hills to Sinna Dorai bungalow takes you through some of the most gorgeous tea plantations (below) found in the region.
Once we checked in and finished lunch, we were all excited to spot the Lion-tailed Macaque and started our drive to one of their known habitats. We must point out that the drive through the plantation is a safari in itself and you can spot many species of birds and mammals within the plantation. A brown Shrike (above) posed for us at the edge of the plantation and towards dusk, herds of wild Indian Gaurs (below) make the tea plantation a resting place for the night. We were given to understand that wild Elephants are also known to frequent these tea plantations.
Coming back to the Lion-tailed Macaques; when we reached the general location where they are found, we were immediately gifted with the sighting of a small troop feeding on Jack fruits. However, the monsoon season coupled with the thick vegetation drastically dimmed the lighting, making photography almost impossible. But we did not let go of our first opportunity to photograph these amazing Macaques (above). The next day morning we went searching for them again and found another troop. This time they were foraging by the side of the road. But the incessant rains played havoc with this photo op and we came back with few pictures. However, one particular Lion-tailed Macaque male (below) was sitting in a clearing close to our vehicle and we got a decent picture despite the rains.
That afternoon we went back once again and found the same troop feeding on raw mangoes from a tree within the plantation’s hospital premises. The antics of the troop was a visual treat that we thoroughly enjoyed. Yet again the overcast skies messed up the lighting. But we were really happy to see the huge dominant male of the troop. He arrived in style and postured to the troop from the rooftop (above) and later settled down and kept a vigil on the troop giving us some amazing close up frames (below). We captured his occasional yawn as seen in the feature picture of this post. I was left wondering why they are called Lion-tailed Macaques since Lion-faced Macaques seemed a more appropriate name given their mane.