Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary is the northern most protected forest area of Kerala. Being surrounded and adjoined by the continuous forests of Kodagu and Wayanad, this sanctuary harbors a wide variety of fauna and flora which belong to the Western Ghats indigenousness. A total of 246 birds, 262 butterflies, 98 dragonflies and damselflies, 40 fishes, 49 mammals, 53 Reptiles and 35 species of amphibians are found here. Also, this is the only protected area of the West Coast Tropical Evergreen forest of Dipterocarpus-Mesua- Palaquium type. The presence of Malabar Slender Loris (Loris lydekkerianus malabaricus) with other five primate species is one of the main highlights of the sanctuary. This endearing, slow-moving, nocturnal primate is always a delight to the eyes. Aralam holds the highest population of this species among its distribution range.
The unique geographical and climatical conditions of the sanctuary help in sustaining a wide variety of butterflies too. Well-known for its butterflies and butterfly migration, Aralam is also called as the “Land of Butterflies”. The mud-puddling phenomenon of butterflies in the stream banks of Aralam is a blissful watch. According to the experts, 262 species of butterflies were recorded from Aralam in the last 20 years, and there are no other protected areas in the State which has these many species of butterflies. With the onset of the northeast monsoon, Aralam witnesses the remarkable natural phenomenon of butterfly migration which starts by mid of October-November and extends till late March.
Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary is listed as one of the “Important Bird Area (IBA)” by BirdLife International in 2003. The sanctuary is home for One Red data book species Nilgiri Wood- Pigeon Columba elphinstonii, 12 restricted range species, and 18 species of birds under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
The sanctuary forms the watershed area of Cheenkannipuzha and Urittipuzha, which are the tributaries of an important river of Kannur district, the Valapattanam River. The Northern and Southern boundaries of the protected area are Chavachipuzha and Cheenkannipuzha respectively. Sanctuary is blessed with many other small and large rivulets also. Cheenkannipuzha, the major tributary originates from the upper reaches of Brahmagiris and flows down the dense and luxuriant forests of Aralam, tumbling in to beautiful waterfalls at Meenmutty and Chavachi, and finally joins to Valapattanam River. It is a major source of drinking water and meets the day to day needs of lakhs of people in Kannur district and this river is very crucial in controlling the agro-economy and fishery- economy of the district.