If you are a nature lover, bird enthusiast or an ecologist, well pack your bag and lace your shoes to walk into the enchanting natural beauty of the Top Five Bio-Diversity hotspots in Goa.
1. Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary
Located near the town Vapoli, in the Western Ghats, the Sanctuary is an area of high bio-diversity. Residing in this protected area are Bengal Tigers. The wild life sanctuary sits on the river basin of the Mhadei River and is regarded as Global Biodiversity Hotspot, as well as an area of high endemism by Conservation International. It is home to many species of animals, birds and flora. Such as the Black Panther, sloth bear, Indian gaur and the barking deer to name a few. This sanctuary was also identified as an International Bird Area, as it protects Nilgiri wood-pigeon, Malabar parakeet, Malabar grey hornbill, grey-headed bulbul, rufous babbler, white-bellied blue-flycatcher, crimson-backed sunbird, crested serpent eagle, Malabar grey hornbill and pied hornbill.
2. Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary
This sanctuary is situated in Mollem. The area was previously known as Mollem Game Sanctuary, which was later declared as a wild life sanctuary in 1969 and renamed. It is Goa’s largest protected wild life sanctuary. Thick forest slopes of the Western Ghats that is rich in flora and fauna, a paradise for bird watchers. If you are lucky, you will catch a glimpse of many of the animals that are sheltered in the sanctuary, including Gaur, Samba, Leopards, Spotted Deer, Jungle Cats, Malayan Giant Squirrels, Pythons and Cobras. The sanctuary is particularly known for its Leopards, Elephants, Dears & Gaur or Indian Bison.
3. Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is located at the junction of Ponda, near Usgao. It is the smallest of the Wild life Sanctuaries in the state spread over 8 sq.km , and 3000 feet over the green foothills of the Western Ghats. The landscape is breathtakingly scenic. The Bondla National Park consist of a Botanical Garden, Rose Garden and Deer Park within its premises. One can also opt for a jeep safari inside the deer park in the Bondla sanctuary. Seen along the water bodies are a number of species of crocodiles. The sanctuary also houses a variety of colourful birds. One must opt for the elephant ride offered by the forest department.
4. Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
Housing several rare plant species, a dense forest wherein it is difficult to see the sunlight. Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is the place to visit. Touching the border of Karnataka, situated in the Canacona Taluka, is a multi storied forest. Several Gaurs are known to come into Cotigoa from its neighbourhood. The dense forests, perennial streams, and picturesque undulating terrain provide for a unique wildlife refuge. If you are brave enough, the Forest Department can provide cots and mosquito-nets. So all that lies between you and the jungle is a thin mesh. However, the Forest Department also has one and two-bedded suites available at Poinguinim, 2 km. away from the Sanctuary.
5. Dr. Salim Al Bird Sanctuary
This is Goa’s only bird sanctuary. A range of local and migratory birds can be found on the island of Chorao. This is truly a bird lover’s paradise. Apart from a rich variety of coastal birds, one may spot flying foxes, jackals and crocodiles along the banks of the Mandovi River. In addition 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.
So pack up! A pair of binoculars and a water bottle is all you need to set on your journey into the wild. If you have visited any of these bio-diversity hotspots before, write to us in our Comment Box below.