Kenyan Green Belt movement founder: Wangari Maathai who wrote ‘Trees of peace’
Species in Tungareshwar and neighbouring areas:
MAMMALS | Leopard, rusty spotted cat, common palm civet, jackal, fox, sambar, barking deer, common langur, common mongoose, black-naped hare
BIRDS | 150 species of birds, including common kestrel, peregrine falcon, crested serpent eagle, hornbill, grey jungle fowl
FLORA | 500 species of plants
Accounts by nature enthusiasts:
I have been to Tungareshwar often and it seems impossible to believe that the thick glades, flowing waters and vibrant wildlife can co-exist within a stone's throw from a bustling highway and human disturbance. But nature is alive here. No sooner do you enter its confines that birdsong fills your ears and botanists could ask for few better examples of a moist evergreen forest. When I trekked to the highest point (570m) I saw the canopy stretch northward towards the Tansa valley and I prayed that better sense would prevail and that the fragile corridors connecting Tungareshwar with Tansa would be restored, rather than snapped. Studded with deciduous patches that only add to the biodiversity value, Tungareshwar harbours perennial water sources and this is why wildlife densities are likely to be high, provided we are able to offer the area the peace and seclusion it needs. Records in the BNHS suggest that the forest hosts over than 600 species of plants, over 250 species of birds, 150 species of butterflies, over 36 species of herpetofauna and many more yet to be documented. The area is also important for owl moths from the genus Olhreis (seven species). It is also the largest breeding site for the atlas moth Attacus alias around Mumbal. The leopard Panthera pardus is the predominant predator and thrives on spotted deer Axis axis, barking deer Muntiacus muntjak and sambar Cervus unicolor. It was as recently as May 2003 that a tiger Panthera tigris was reported from Tungareshwar. Besides its immensely high biodiversity potential, this magical forest also acts as vital catchment area, which helps to recharge thousands of freshwater wells in the Vasai Taluka. The water security of this entire region depends on this forest and its natural surrounds.