The densely forested South of India is just the place to see wild elephants. True, in India the elephant is a common enough sight, there being so many domesticated ones. But as the visitor discovers, the wild elephant is a very different animal.

With the large population of wild elephants tn thee country, Periyar National Park (Kerala) is the best place to see the Asian elephant.

Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary (Tamil Nadu) is so popular it has to sometimes limit the number of visitors to prevent the elephants from getting disturbed. Occupying hills, ravines and valley, the sanctuary's elerhant camp is a major attraction.

Close to Mysore, Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary (Karnataka) is a small sanctuary of river islands. Popular as a birdwatcher's paradise, it's also home to marsh crocodiles. Declared protected all the way back in 1940, it boasts a healthy population of cormorants, white ibis and painted storks among other bird species. June to November- being the nesting season- is the best time to visit, but the sanctuary is open all year.

Part of the larger Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, the Silent Vallley National Park (Kerala) is a stunning bit of rainforest. It's almost totally undisturbed, thanks to its relative isolation. A rich biosphere, its home to over 1000 species of plants and fauna includes elephants, lion- tailed macaques and flying squirrels. Foreigners need a permit to visit.

The beauteous Kabini river snakes through the Nagarhole (Karnataka), home to elephants and the bonnet macaque.

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