The area is known for its rainfall, with both the southwest and northeast monsoon contributing to the downpour. The monthly maximum and minimum temperatures range from 31.2°C and 15.0°C respectively.
The area is home to a huge variety of endemic Flora and Fauna. Its flora is characteristic of the Western Ghats and plantation crops flourish in the cooler temperatures here. Some common tree species seen here include rose-wood, anjili (Artocarpus), mullumurikku (Erythrina), several species of cassia and many other non-descript varieties. The moist deciduous forest consists of Maruthi, karimaruthi, rosewood, venteak, vengal, chadachi, mazhukanjiram, bamboos etc. while the semi-evergreen patches comprise of vateria indicia and Lagerstroemia.
Of the 45 species of mammals here, 6 are endemic to the Western Ghats. The avian population (203 species) also boasts of 10 endemic, 6 ranges restricted and 5 globally threatened species. Thirteen of these are listed in the schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act (1972). The area is said to be a favourite of the largest venomous snake in the world, the King Cobra. Of the 45 reptile species documented here till now, of which 8 are endemic. Of the 30 amphibian species here, 26 are endemic to the Western Ghats.
Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is home to the last of the surviving vultures in the state, has added to its vulture diversity with the rare sighting of the cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) or Eurasian black vulture, for the first time in the sanctuary. The large broad-winged vulture, which is normally found in its Eurasian habitats with its range extending to North India, is very rarely seen in the south of Vindhyas. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is the only area in the state with a breeding population of two critically-endangered vulture species. It is first time that a cinereous vulture has been sighted sporadically in the sanctuary include Egyptian vulture and Himalayan griffon Vulture. Five species of vultures have been reported from the Sanctuary vise; White-rumped Vulture, Red-headed Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Himalayan Griffon and Cinereous Vultures. Three nests of White-rumped Vulture and one nest of Red-headed Vulture has been reported from this Sanctuary. Sighting of more than 100 Vultures in most of the carcasses is now common in the Sanctuary.
Camera traps studies have been conducting for the past one year in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary to confirm the presence of four horned antelope. Fifteen camera traps have been deployed at various parts of Rampur Reserve Forest in Sulthan Bathery Range, where the historic sightings of the species was recorded. Two individuals were recorded from Varalam and Kavanahalla area of Ottippara section in Sulthan Bathery Range on 23.04.2018, 26.04.2018 and 05.05.2018. The four-horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis), or chousingha which is known as 'ullaman' in Malayalam, is a small antelope found in India and Nepal. This antelope has four horns which distinguish it from most other bovid, which have two horns. It is included in schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act (1972) and categorized as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The habitat of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary along with other forest regions in elephant reserve No.7, shelter world's largest recorded population of Asian Elephants and Tigers. The elephant is one of the flagship species of the sanctuary along with Tiger and Vulture. Other mammals found in the sanctuary are Leopards, Jungle Cats, Leopard cats, Spotted deer, Sambardeer, Gaur, Sloth bear, Wild dog, Wild boar, Indian pangolin, Stripe-necked mongoose etc. Due to ecological and geographical contiguity with other protected areas of Bandipur and Nagarhole Tiger Reserve in North-East side and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve of Tamilnadu in the south-eastern side, offers natural corridors for the seasonal migration of ling ranging animals within the greater conservation unit. It is the only sanctuary in Kerala where sightings of four-horned antelope (Ullaman) are reported. The most remarkable thing about the sanctuary is that it is the only remaining habitat of the critically endangered vulture population in Kerala. Two species of vultures, viz., Red-headed and white-backed vultures are a common sight in the sanctuary.
The sanctuary is part of one of the most important tiger habitat in the country. This forest continuum, as part of Project Elephant Reserve No. 7, harbours the largest and viable population of Asian elephants in the world. Constitute western limits of vast dry and moist deciduous forest continuum, spread over three states of Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala and act as corridors for seasonal migration of wild animals.
As an inevitable component of NBR, the forests of this area are believed to be home to numerous, still undocumented, floral and faunal species. The last legally well protected remnants of the badly fragmented and encroached forests of Wayanad plateau.
Sanctuary's forests form major catchments of various tributaries of Cauvery river system, one of the largest river systems in South India.
The Nagarhole-Bandipur-Mudumalai-Wayanad - complex is site of numerous ongoing research activities by prominent South Indian research organizations.
The easy terrain and location at tri-junction of 3 states, offers tremendous scope for spreading the message of conservation through nature education & eco-tourism package. The very common sights of major animals, especially wild elephants, and the salubrious climate of sanctuary, make sanctuary areas excellent eco-tourism spots.
Discovery of new stone-age relics in sanctuary open up new possibilities for anthropological studies and for building up the natural history of this area.
The vast teak plantations of sanctuary harbour billions of rupees of timber assets. Even though fellings in these plantations are stopped, conversion of these plantations in to natural forests necessitates selective removal of teak trees which will yield crores of rupees revenue and give considerable employment to local population. Wayanad being a predominantly tribals dominated area, sanctuary’s forestry activities play a vital role in generating employment and tackling poverty related problems of local population. There is scope and immediate need for a full-fledged eco-development effort to reduce human degradations on forests as well to improve plight of the stakeholders.
Wayanad hosts among the highest population of indigenous civilians in the State. Some of the prominent tribes here include the Paniyar, Kattunayakan, Urali, Kurichiar, Wayanad Kadar and Adyar. Said to be of Dravidian ancestry, they depend almost completely on the forest for their livelihood. Honey, spices, medicinal plants, roots and gooseberry are some of the non-timber products that they rely on the forest for. The main non-tribal community here is the Wayanadan Chetty. The Kerala Forest Department has launched various initiatives to foster the growth and empower these indigenous settlers.