Wildlife Sanctuaries in Goa

Goa is a state which is gifted with incredible natural beauty; from her beaches and gently rolling hill to her vegetation and animal life. To protect some of this natural beauty from rush of modern development, Goa has set aside four wild-life sanctuaries nested in the wooded areas of in-land Goa. The Bhagwan Mahaveer, Bondla, Cotigao, and Dr.Salim Ali Wild life sanctuaries are open to visitors interested in a glimpse of Goa's natural environment.

Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary

The Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary at Mollem covers an area of 240 square kilometers and is the largest wildlife preserve in Goa. This sanctuary lies on the eastern border of the state, close to the village of Mollem at the foot of the Western Ghats. The Bhagvan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is 53 kilometres away from the state capital, Panaji. The sanctuary primarily consists of evergreen forests and deciduous trees.

The Bhagwan Mahaveer sanctuary lies in Ponda and Sanguem Talukas of Eastern Goa, bordered by the Eastern Ghats and Karnataka. It is a total of 240 square kilometers of tropical forest land dotted with occasional grassy Savannah's and tribal villages. The animals are allowed to roam free in the reserve, and it can be difficult to spot them in their wild habitat unless you come prepared with hiking boots and plan to spend a few days trekking in the more remote areas of the sanctuary. The Mahadeva temple at Tambdi Surla is one of Goa's most sacred stone temples whose origins date back to the Kadamba Dynasty. Devil's Canyon, which requires permission to visit from the Interpretation Center (near the entrance to the sanctuary), is a lovely gorge near the town of Molem. It is a popular picnic spot visited by locals and tourists alike. Some members of the Dhangar community of nomadic buffalo herders also inhabit this reserve, and can be seen tending to their buffaloes in the grassy plains and winding rivers. The highlight of a trip to this sanctuary, however, is a visit to the Dudhsagar Waterfalls, in the south-east region of the park. They can be reached via train from Margao and/or Vasco, which is expected to be up by the next season beginning in October of 1997.

Within the Bhagvan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is the Molem National Park. Herds of deer and gaurs (Indian bison), clusters of monkeys, Malayan giant squirrels, cobras and pythons are housed in the sanctuary. There are also elephants and tigers, but spotting them could be a tough job. The sanctuary is also home to a few black panthers; and spotting them is not an easy task either.

Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary

Distance :52km from Panaji, 38km from Margao

Salim Ali Bird SanctuaryAway from the coast, the Goan landscape breaks into the dramatic and green foothills of the Western Ghats. These foothills shelter the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary; the smallest wildlife reserve in Goa, which occupies an area of 80sq. km. The sanctuary has the sambar, gaur (Indian bison) and wild boar, amongst others animals. Elephants have been spotted here at times. Perhaps they come in from across Karnataka to enjoy the sea breeze and check out Goa. The sanctuary houses a botanical garden, a rose garden, a small deer-park and a zoo, which was initially established to shelter orphaned animals.

Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

At the confluence of the Mandovi and Mapusa Rivers lies the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, spread across an area of 2sq. km. in the Charoa Island. The wildlife sanctuary supports rich mangrove forests, which are home to a host of birds, a sizeable population of flying foxes, jackals, crocodiles, turtles and some other life forms endemic to coastal wildlife.

The Mandovi-Zuari Wildlife Sanctuary

has a stretch of rich mangrove swamps, considered to be amongst the most important in the country. Spread over a vast area, this wildlife sanctuary is home to about 20 different species of mangroves that include the rare Kandelia candel species. The swamps support a large variety of fish, birds, jackals, snakes, and crocodiles, to name a few.

Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuaries

Distance : 60km from Panaji

Getting to the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is a little tedious; but if you are in the mood to be in the middle of woods and discover the quieter side of Goa, the journey is well worth the trouble. Catigao is Goa’s second largest wildlife reserve. The 105sq. km. of forested land provides shelter to a number of birds and animals. If you go with the intention of seeing some of India’s legendary fauna here, then you could be in for a disappointment, as spotting the more famous wild animals is not extremely common. But the expansive forestland is a welcome change.

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