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Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary | Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary | Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary | Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

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,Crab in Beach  of  Goa 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 of reptiles.

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, Molem
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.Wild Boars

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 Coastal Bird  In  GoaAli Bird Sanctuary
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 Chorao.

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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