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Wildlife in Goa

Dr. Salim Ali 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. The "Mangrove Scrub" type of vegetation that is found here occurs in small isolated areas along the banks of Mandovi and Mapusa rivers and also along the Cumbarjua canal. This Sanctuary is criss-crossed with a network of water channels. So movement is restricted to the duration of high tide if one wants to go by boats. However for canoes, the creeks are accessible even during low tides. A watch-tower has been erected in the Sanctuary for better viewing of birds. Apart from the several resident birds, the Sanctuary also has some winter visitors like coots and pintails. The Wildlife Division of the Forest Department proposes to start conducted tours through the water channels. It is envisaged that a group of 8-9 persons could be taken at one time. However, the exact modalities are yet to be worked out. Resource material and useful information could be acquired at the Range Forest Office at Campal, in Panaji.

Bhagvan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary

The Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Goan town of Mollem. With a total area of 240 sq kms, this is the largest of Goa's four protected wildlife areas, and contains within it The Molem National Park. The sanctuary is situated on the eastern border of Goa, with Karnataka 53 kms away from Panaji and 54 kms away from Margao. It is easily accessible by both road and rail. Along the north from Panaji on the road to Belgaum, is a sanctuary that covers 240-sq-kms. Thick forest clad slopes of the Western Ghats that is rich in wildlife and a paradise for bird watchers. Unless you stay for at least a couple of days, it is unlikely that you will catch a glimpse of many of the animals that are sheltered in the sanctuary, including Gaur, Sambar, Leopards, Spotted Deer, Slender Toris, Jungle Cats, Malayan Giant Squirrels, Pythons and Cobras. There are important geographical and historical features in this sanctuary. Jeeps on private arrangements go to the interior of the forest. The sanctuary is particularly known for its Leopards, Elephants, Deers & Gaur Or Indian Bison. It is more convenient to view wild animals from the Devil's Canion View Point. Bird lovers may also find their best time over here. The famous temple of Tambdisurla of the Kadambas is situated 13-km from here. In Mangalore to Margao journey on Konkan Railway one can enjoy the beauty of Dudhsagar through the windows. Mollem has comfortable cottages and dormitories built by the Directorate of Tourism for accommodation. Police Outpost at the gateway of the sanctuary in calm and quiet surroundings is like a painting on a canvas in Mollem. The sanctuary's setting in the foothills of the Western Ghats is wonderful and the countryside is one of the most peaceful that you'll come across in Goa. One hundred metres west of the entrance to the Molem Tourist Resort is the Nature Education Centre, where you can contact the Range Forest Officer, from whom you can obtain permission for vehicle access through the main park gate (which is about 3 km east along the National Highway 4A). There is also an observation platform a few kms into the park and the best time to see wildlife is in the early morning or late evening.

Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary

Its mini zoo, sprawling deer park in natural habitat, botanical and rose gardens attract people throughout the year. 38 kms from Margao is the smaller of the three wildlife sanctuaries of Goa - the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary. More than a sanctuary, it is an ideal jungle resort, a major attraction for school going children and nature lovers. The Bondla wildlife sanctuary is about 50 Kms from Panaji and 38 Kms from Margao and 20 Kms east of Ponda. It is more of a jungle resort with tourist cottages available on site run by the Forest Department. The common animals that inhabit the sanctuary are the Gaur and the Sambhar deer. It is a popular destination for school picnics. It is closed on Thursdays. There are tour buses that make a stop over at Bondla from Margao and Panaji. The Sanctuary is just 8 sq. km. in size, located among hills at the junction of three Talukas viz. Ponda, Sanguem and Sattari. It boasts of a Mini Zoo, Deer Safari Park, Formal Gardens, Botanic Gardens and Eco-Tourism Cottages. It is connected to Ponda as well as Molem by a good tar-road. Late evenings and nights are very pleasant. Bondla is a Paradise for Eco-Tourists. The area is covered with Moist Deciduous Forests, with small patches of Evergreens and Canes along the nullahs. The State Tree Terninalia crenulata (Matti) and Rosewood are common here. Others are Lagerstroemia (Naked Maiden of the Forest / Nano), Kindall, Jamba, Mimusops, Saraca indica etc. The thorny bamboo Bambusa arundinacea and Giant Lianas (Entada) abound. Gaur the state animal is frequently seen. The Panther is the largest carnivora and the Jungle Cat, Leopard Cat, Toddy Cat are others. Herbivorous consist of Deers (Sambar, Spotted, Hog, Barking and Mouse) Wild Boar, Porcupines Scaly Ant Eater, and Malabar Giant Squirrel. The diminutive Flying lizard (Draco) is fairly common. Over a hundred species of birds are residents. The State Bird (Ruby Throated Yellow Bulbul) can be seen... and the Common Grey Hornbill and Golden Backed Woodpecker are daily visitors to the Garden.

Zoological Park: A tiny Zoo permits one to see the fauna of Goa in moated enclosures with natural surroundings. Animal exhibts include, Panther, Lion, Gaur, Sambar, Deers (Spotted, Hog & Barking ) Sloth Bear, Crocodiles, Reptiles etc.

Deer Safari Park: Visitors can move among deers in vehicles inside the sprawling Deer Safari Park housing Sambar and Spotted Deers.

Formal Gardens: Spacious lawns, exotic trees, varieties of roses, and colourful flowering plants in the middle of the forest do please the eye.

Botanic Gardens: The large collection of plants is of interest to students.

Nature Education Centre: The NEC houses several exhibits, which visitors can see, feel and interpret. An attached Library provides details to the inquisitive, and video and cine movies are screened on request.

Birds: Bondla is home to over a hundred bird species. For details on bird-watching areas contact the Park Range Office.

Wild Animals: For those seeking greater adventure and excitement, we have watch-towers where wild animals like Gaur, Sambar, Wild Boar can be seen at water-holes.

Nature Trails: For the more energetic the Nature Trails provide information simultaneously affording opportunities to see nature as it is.

Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary

If one wants to see multi-storeyed forests with tall trees and rare plants, where hardly any light reaches the ground, Cotigao Sanctuary is the place to go to. It touches the border of Karnataka state and in the lean season, several gaurs are known to come into Cotigao from its neighbourhood. The vegetation is mostly moist-deciduous type, interspersed with semi-evergreen and evergreen patches. It is situated in Canacona Taluka, in the south of Goa. It lies at about 2 km from Poinguinim , which is 10 km away from Chaudi, the main town of Cancacona on NH17. So the approach is very convenient. The Nature Interpretation Centre run by the Forest Department is a valuable repository of knowledge. At present, the Department is capable of providing rudimentary facilities like snake-proof camping sites, canvas tents, reference material and loads of goodwill. For those who really want to rough it out, there is no end of possibilities. If you are brave enough, the Forest Dept can provide cots and mosquito-nets. So that all that lies between you and the jungle is a thin mesh. Otherwise, the Forest Department has one two-bedded suite available at Poinguinim, 2 km. away from the Sanctuary. The dense forests, perennial streams, and picturesque undulating terrain provide for a unique wildlife refuge. The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, was established in 1969 to protect a remote and vulnerable area of forest lining the Goa- Karnataka border. Encompassing 86-sq-kms of mixed deciduous woodland, the reserve is certain to inspire tree lovers, but less likely to yield many wildlife sightings: its tigers and leopards were hunted out long ago, while the Gazelles, Sloth Bears, Porcupines, Panthers and Hyenas that allegedly lurk in the woods rarely appear. Visitors however, stand a good chance of spotting at least two species of Monkey, a couple of Wild Boar and the odd Gaur. The sanctuary is best visited between the months of October and March. Cotigao is a peaceful and scenic park that makes a pleasant day trip from Palolem beach, 12-km northwest. The wardens at the reserve's small Interpretative Centre will show one how to get to a 25m-high treetop watchtower, overlooking a waterhole that attracts a handful of animals around dawn and dusk.Any of the buses running south on NH-17 to Karwar via Chaudi will drop one within 2-km of the gates. However, to explore the inner reaches of the sanctuary, one really needs one's own transport. Written permission for an overnight stay, either in the watchtower or the forest department's small rest house must be obtained from the Deputy Conservator Of Forests, 3rd Floor, Junta House, Panaji, as far in advance of one's visit as possible.


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