The rugged western ghats make it an ideal haven for many species
of birds and animals and also provide a corridor for migration.
The western ghats called the Sahyadris in Goa, extend for a total
of 600kms in Goa of their total length of 3702 kms.
The coastal areas on the other hand, provide the tropical backdrop.
There are several plants and trees unique to Goa and some introduced
by the Portuguese,
most famous of which is the green Chilies, which today has become
an essential ingredient in the Indian Curry.
The widest belt of forests along the western ghats is in Goa and
neighbouring Karnataka state. The high rainfall accounts for this
because the elevation of the mountain range here is lower.
The tropical location of Goa is responsible for its warm humid
climate and laterite and lateritic Clayey-loamy soil. The mean temperature
even in the coldest month is over 20 degrees centigrade.
Average rainfall is over 500mm along the western ghats and a little
less elsewhere. The length of the dry season averages from 5 to
6 months. For all these reasons, the dominant vegetation is of the
moist decidous type.
Goa is endowed with over 1512 documented species of plants, over
275 genera of birds, over 48 genera of animals and over 60 genera
About 10% of Goa is set aside as wildlife reserve and this area
includes four large wildlife sanctuaries. Deforestation and extinction
of certain species of animals are becoming serious issues. The wildlife
sanctuaries in Goa are doing their best to preserve the wealth of
the flora and fauna that they have. Move away from the concrete
jungle and come and spend some time in the natural jungles of Goa.
Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary,
With an area of 240 square kilometres, this sanctuary is Goa's largest
wildlife preserve. Located close to the Molem village at the foot
of the Western Ghats, this sanctuary lies on the eastern border
of the state. It is 53 kilometres away from the state capital, Panaji.
The sanctuary is situated amidst nature's splendour; evergreen forests
and deciduous trees encompass this preserve.
In the heart of the sanctuary is the Molem National Park. Herds
of deer and gaurs (Indian bison), clusters of monkeys, Malayan giant
squirrels, cobras and pythons are a common sight. And if you get
lucky, you might even spot elephants and tigers. The sanctuary is
also home to a few black panthers but spotting them is not an easy
task. The best time to visit the sanctuary is either early in the
morning or late in the evening.
The forest department has made arrangements for jeeps that take
you on your excursion through the sanctuary. To avail of this facility,
do contact the Range Forest Officer. But to be able to get a glimpse
of the wildlife, you might have to spend a couple of days here.
The closest accommodation available is the Tourist Complex that
is run by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation. Not a very fancy
place but clean and comfortable enough to spend a few days. And
while you are there, do take the time out to visit the Dudhsagar
waterfalls close by. The13th century Mahadev Temple at Tambdi,Surla,
just 12 kilometres away, is worth visiting.
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
Travel 60 kilometres south of Panaji to arrive at the Cotigao Wildlife
Sanctuary, which was established in 1969. The second largest sanctuary
in Goa, it covers of an area 86 square kilometres. The Talpona River
flows through this preserve.
The number of animals in this sanctuary has decreased over the
years but one still comes across sloth bears, hyenas, wild
boars, deer and gaurs.Reptiles and monkeys are in plentiful.
However, birds like the white-eyed eagle, rufous woodpecker and
the Malabar crested eagle that are not easily spotted in Goa, can
be found here. This sanctuary will also please a true tree lover.
The park has a 25 metre high treetop watchtower from where one
can watch the animals visit the waterholes around the place. However,
you will need your own vehicle to visit the sanctuary as no vehicles
are provided by the forest department to take you around.
A day trip is good enough to visit this sanctuary but if you want
to spend some more time with nature, you can always stay at the
Forest Rest House. However, there is only room available at the
rest house, so the booking has to be done well in advance. You can
also book tents on the spot at the Nature Interpretation Centre,
at the entrance to the park. Although the accommodation is taken
care of, you might want to carry your own food and drinks, as these
facilities are not easily available here.
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
Ten kilometres northeast of the Usgao Tisk village in north Goa
lies the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary. One of the smallest preserves
in Goa, it covers an area of merely 8 square kilometres. Animals
such as the black-faced langur, Indian bison, jackal and wild boar
are commonly found here. Various species of deer are can also be
spotted. Besides being home to animals, this preserve is also a
treat for bird watchers and butterfly spotters.
This sanctuary also boasts of a tiny zoo, although nowadays the
zoo is not very well maintained and number of animals too has decreased.
However, elephant rides are still offered at this park. You can
even go on a deer safari through the sanctuary. After having ventured
out into the preserve, you can come and relax at the botanical garden
within the premises of the sanctuary. A small Nature Education Centre
has also been established. This Centre is generally used for viewing
educational wildlife videos.
The Forest Department has set up tourist cottages at the entrance
of the preserve to facilitate accommodation to those wanting to
spend a night or two with nature. These cottages are ordinary but
well maintained. There is also a restaurant that provides simple,
tasty food. It is advisable to book the cottages in advance, especially
if you are planning your visit on a weekend or public holiday. The
sanctuary remains closed on Thursdays.
Dr. Salim Ali
This is Goa's only bird sanctuary, 1.8 Sq Km in area. A variety
of local and migratory birds can be found on this island. From Panaji
, one needs to take a bus or a cab to the Ribandar ferry wharf and
then take a ferry across the Mandovi river to the island of Chorao.
The sanctuary is within walking distance from the ferry wharf at
On the western tip of the island of Chorao along River Mandovi,
mangrove swamps cover this bird-watchers' paradise aptly named after
India's best-known ornithologist.
Open throughout the year, the sanctuary can be visited with the
permission of the Chief Wild Life Warden, Forest Department, Junta
House, Panaji. Apart from a rich variety of coastal birds, one may
spot flying foxes, jackals and crocodiles.
The area consists of mangrove vegetation. Mangrove ecosystems are
among the most productive ones known to us. They provide refuge
and breeding grounds for several varieties of fish and insects which
fall at the base of the food-chain.
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