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.
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
The Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary lies 10 kms northeast of the Usgao Tisk village in north Goa and is 52 kms from Panaji, and 38 kms from Margao. Away from the coast, the landscape breaks into the dramatic and green foothills of the Western Ghats. These foothills shelter the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary; which is the smallest wildlife reserve in Goa. The Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over an area of 80 sq kms. The sanctuary is home to the sambar, gaur (Indian bison), the black-faced langur, jackal and wild boar, amongst others animals. Elephants have also been spotted here at times. The Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary houses several species of deer as well.
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
At a distance of 60km south from Panaji, is located the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary. The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1969. It is the second largest sanctuary in Goa and covers an area of 86 sq kms. The Talpona River flows through this preserve. Getting to the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is a little tedious.
The forested land provides shelter to a number of birds and animals. However, the number of animals in this sanctuary has decreased over the years. Yet one still comes across sloth bears, deer, wild boars, hyenas, and Indian bisons. Reptiles and monkeys too can be easily spotted. Birds like the rufous woodpecker, white-eyed eagle and the Malabar crested eagle form a part of the avian life that abounds here. But, apart from the animal life, the expansive forestland also comes as a welcome change.
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Also known as Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary - The sanctuary is named after one of India's most prominent ornithologists, Dr. Salim Ali - the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is spread over an area of 1.78 sq kms. The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is located at the western tip of the Chorao Island along river Mandovi near Panaji. It is fully covered with mangrove species. A variety of local and migratory birds can be found on this island.
This sanctuary can be visited any time of the year. However, permission from the Chief, Wild Life Warden (Forest Department, Junta House, Panaji-Goa) is required. One needs to take a bus or a cab from Panaji 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. There are also some private parties who take tourists around in their canoes fitted with outboard motors.
Goa is a land whose major portion is allotted to forests and wildlife. Due to deforestation and extinction of certain species of animals becoming a serious issue, the wildlife sanctuaries in Goa are doing their best to preserve their flora and fauna. Presently there are six wildlife sanctuaries in Goa:
- The Bondla Wildlife sanctuary at Bondla (8 sq km)
- The Bhagvan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary at Mollem (133 sq km)
- The Cotigao Wlidlife Sanctuary at Cotigao (86 square km)
- The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Chorao Island (1.78 square km)
- At Madei (208 square km, proposed)
- At Netravali (211 square km, proposed)
- The Mollem national park at Mollem (107 square km)
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary: the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is located 38 kms from Margao. It is more an ideal jungle resort than a sanctuary. It is a big favourite with school children and people who love nature. This wildlife sanctuary in Goa houses mini zoos, sprawling deer park in natural habitat, botanical and rose gardens that attract people throughout the year.
Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary: The Bhagvan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary covers around 240 sq kms. Out of this, the forest-clad slopes of the Western ghats and its valleys are the biggest attractions. It is also the biggest of the three sanctuaries of Goa. The sanctuary is rich in wildlife. It is a paradise for bird watchers. There are also many important geological and historical features in this sanctuary.
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary: The Cotigao wildlife sanctuary in Goa is the second largest of all the wildlife sanctuaries in Goa. It covers an area of 105 sq km. It is covered with dense forest. As a result of which a varied wildlife, avian fauna and reptiles thrive and flourish. The ancient Jeevottam Partagal Math too lies near the sanctuary.
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary: The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is spread over 1.78 sq kms. It is located at the western tip of the island of Chorao along river Mandovi near Panaji. It is fully covered with species that thrive in mangrove areas. Varieties of local as well as migratory birds frequently visit there. Last Updated on : 05 April 2013