Wildlife Sanctuaries in India
A wildlife sanctuary refers to a protected area for the wildlife where animals live in their natural habitat without any influence or disturbance from the outside world such as hunting, poaching and capturing of animals is strictly prohibited and is a punishable crime at such places. There are many endangered species of animals that are protected and preserved in wildlife sanctuaries such as black buck, rhinoceros, marsh crocodile, and more.
There are many famous wildlife sanctuaries in India that have a rich diversity of flora and fauna and natural habitat with suitable conditions to nurture the wildlife.
The list of some of the best wildlife sanctuaries in India:
1) Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka
Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary is located 38 km far from the Chikmagalur town in Karnataka. It is spread over 490 sq. km. of the area surrounded by hills of the Western Ghats and covered by moist and dry deciduous forest including semi-evergreen forests with more than 100 types of trees can be found at this place.
It got its name from river Bhadra that flows through this sanctuary and fulfils the water requirement of this area. It was also accorded with the status of a tiger reserve in 1998.
The fauna (wildlife) of Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary include tigers, elephants, leopards, chital, sambar, boars, gaur, porcupine and reptiles like King cobra, Indian rock python, etc. The birds living in this sanctuary are great black woodpecker, Malabar parakeet, southern green imperial pigeon, emerald dove, etc.
Besides flora and fauna, it also houses Kemmangundi, Baba Buden and Kallahathigiri hills. Out of these, Kallahathigiri is the highest peak in this sanctuary with a height of 1875 meter.
The main highlight of this park is a teak tree named Jagara and is believed to be over 300 years old. The sanctuary also offers various activities for the tourist such as trekking, safari, rock climbing, water sports, bird watching, rock climbing, etc.
2) Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala
Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the eastern slope of the Western Ghats in the Idukki District in Kerala adjacent to Tamil Nadu. It is occupying an area of around 90 sq. km. and is bordered by Eravikulam National Park in the south and covered by Indira Gandhi wildlife sanctuary on the north side. There is also a sandalwood forest nearby the sanctuary that makes this place more attractive among the visitors.
The area has a diverse ecosystem with mixed deciduous forest. Apart from trees, it is a rich source of medicinal plants and houses around 1000 species of flowering plants. It provides shelter as well as supports a healthy population of diverse wildlife such as endangered species of great Grizzled Squirrel, and tufted grey langur, star tortoise, spotted deer, wild elephant, tiger, crocodile, tiger, leopard, and more. Popular activities at Chinnar wildlife sanctuary include a jeep safari, trekking, visiting a tree house, etc.
3) Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka
Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Uttara Kannada on the banks of River Kali. It occupies an area of around 830 sq. km. and is surrounded by hills and thick forests. It was designated as a national wildlife sanctuary in 1956 and as of now, it is the second-largest wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka.
The flora of the sanctuary includes a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees including teak and bamboo and many fruit-bearing trees. Some of the unique mammals that can be easily spotted in this park include barking deer, sloth bears, the Indian Pangolin, and Malabar giant squirrel.
Besides mammals, it is inhabited by over 190 species of birds including blue-throated barbet, peregrine falcon, Malabar pied hornbill, great pied hornbill, Malabar pied hornbill, etc. The famous activities to enjoy at Dandeli wildlife sanctuary include jungle safari, boat safari, trekking, coracle ride, white water rafting, bird watching, wildlife photography, etc.
4) Bhagwan Mahavir wildlife sanctuary, Goa
Bhagwan Mahavir wildlife sanctuary is located on the road from Panaji to Belgaum on the eastern border of Goa. It occupies an area of 240 sq. km. that comprises green area, semi-evergreen area, and moist deciduous and tropical-evergreen areas. It is the largest wildlife sanctuary of Goa.
If you stay for a few days at this place, you can see various mammals such as sambar, spotted deer, jungle cats, Malayan giant squirrel, gaur, leopard, elephants, deer, gaur, Indian Bison and reptiles like King cobra and pythons.
It also offers shelter to over 100 bird species including the Ruby-throated yellow bulbul, the state bird of Goa and various other birds such as the black woodpecker, Malabar pied hornbill, wag tails, great Indian hornbill, Kingfishers, paradise fly catcher, emerald dove, etc. The other attractions of this place are Tambdi falls, Dudhsagar waterfalls, Devil's Canyon, Tambi Surla temple, jeep safari, hiking and trekking, etc.
5) Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat
Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the north-eastern part of the Kutch district that shares boundaries with Pakistan and Wild Ass Sanctuary. It was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1986 and is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat that occupies around 7500 sq. km. of area covered with forests, and revenue wasteland.
It is a seasonal saline wetland with an average depth of 1 metre. By the months of October and November, the rain water dries and the land turns into a saline desert.
It is inhabited by a large variety of mammals and water birds. You can easily spot wolves, hyenas, black buck, chinkara, nilgai, and the Asiatic wild ass that is found only in this sanctuary in India. Some of the commonly seen birds of this area include flamingos, white pelican, great Indian bustard, raptors, steppe eagle, water-fowls, tawny eagles, etc.
6) Karakoram Wildlife Sanctuary, Ladakh
Karakoram Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at high altitude at the Karakoram Range in Ladakh region. It is named after the Karakoram Range where it is situated.
The flora of this place is quite sparse as it is a cold desert. However, the vegetation of this place is found to have high medicinal properties. It is also home to the Tibetan Antelope (Chiru).
It is a breeding ground and home to a wide range of wild animals and plants. Apart from Tibetan antelope, it is inhabited by diverse wildlife such as wild yak, shapo (wild sheep), leopards, bharal (Himalayan blue sheep), leopards, Himalayan mouse, lynx, and Bactrian camels, etc. The birds that inhabit this place include booted eagle, gadwall, golden eagle, grey plover, and bearded vultures.
7) Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh
Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary is situated nearby Animi district in Arunachal Pradesh. It is spread over 4000 sq. km. includes some part of the eastern Himalayas and is surrounded by snow-covered peaks, dense forests, and shimmering rivers. The sanctuary got its name from the Dibang River and declared one of the major bio-diversity hotspots of the world in 1988 by UNESCO.
The fauna or wildlife of the sanctuary comprises a large variety of wild animals such as red goral, musk deer, red panda, Asiatic black bear, tiger, and blyth's tragopan. The flora of the sanctuary mainly comprises temperate broad-leaved forest and temperate conifer forest.
It is also home to diverse species of birds that include rare bird species like blyth's tragopan and sclater's monal. A flying squirrel has also been spotted around this place sometimes. Besides this, various frog species, moths, butterfly and reptile species are also found at this place. Some famous activities in Dibang wildlife sanctuary include nature trails, safaris and bird watching.
8) Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh
Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Kurnool district of the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is also called Rollapadu Bird Sanctuary and is spread over 614 sq. km. of land. It was established in 1988 to provide a protected natural habitat to the endangered species of the Great Indian Bustard. Besides, bustard, it is also home to the endangered species of Lesser Florican. The other animals that inhabit this place include sloth bear, black buck, spotted deer, golden Jackel, Indian Wolf, Common Mangoose, Jungle Cat, etc.
The flora of the Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary is mainly grassland with mixed forest types including thorny bushes. Thus, it offers a perfect natural habitat for wildlife. The fields of tobacco, cotton and sunflower can be seen adjacent to the sanctuary.
Some of the popular birds of this place are florican, myna, short-toed snake eagles, bar-headed geese, greater flamingos, etc. The reptiles found at this place include rat snake, common wolf snake, common lizard, common wolf lizard, fan-tailed lizard, green whip snake, etc. The popular activities in this sanctuary include forest safari, bird watching, and nature walks.
9) Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu
Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary is also called Srivilliputhur Wildlife Sanctuary. It is situated in the Western Ghats in the western part of Tamil Nadu. Its geographic area is 486 sq. km. and shares its boundary with Periyar Tiger Reserve.
It was established in 1988 to provide a protective and natural habitat to threatened species of squirrel, grizzled giant squirrel (Ratufa macroura). Beside these endangered species, there is a multitude of species inhabiting this place such as grizzled giant squirrel, barking deer, lion-tailed macaques, Nilgiri porcupine, sambar, tree shrews, slender lorries, spotted deer and wild cat and boar. Its flora comprises dense forest types and there are many rivers that flow through this place such as Periyar, Kovilar, Mangar, and Pachaiar, etc.
Some of the popular birds in this sanctuary are long-billed vultures, Nilgiri wood-pigeon, great pied hornbill, Nilgiri pipit, black and orange flycatcher, black eagle, red-faced malkoha, etc. The reptiles of this include King cobra, gliding lizard, large-scaled calotes, pit vipers, ornate flying snake, and more.
10) Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh
Eaglenest or Eagle's Nest Wildlife Sanctuary in West Kameng District of Arunachal Pradesh at the foothills of the Himalaya. It is spread over 218 sq. km. and got its name from Red Eagle division of the Indian Army that was stationed here in around 1950.
It is a perfect spot for birdwatching as it is inhabited by around 400 species of birds. The main birds of this place are hornbills, old world flycatchers, warblers, tragopan, parrotbill and thrushes. The butterfly species such as grey admiral, dusky labyrinth, white-edged bush-brown, Bhutan glory can be easily spotted here.
The flora of the sanctuary comprises evergreen forest, broad-leaved forests with different types of trees like conifers, bamboo, shrubs, and other types of vegetation that offer a perfect atmosphere for the growth of the wildlife.
The mammal species found here include royal Bengal tiger, red panda, Arunachal macaque, gaur and Asiatic black bear. The popular activities to do in Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary are bird watching, camping, trekking, safari and photography.
11) Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary, Chhattisgarh
Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the Surajpur District of Chhattisgarh. It is spread over 608 sq. km of land and is a raw and untouched natural reserve that is not involved in any type of commercial activity. It got its name from Tamor Hill and Pingla Nalla.
In the north, it is bordered by the Moran River; in the east, by BongaNalla and in the west by the Rihand River. In 1978, it was notified as a wildlife sanctuary. In 2011, it was declared a part of Surguja Jashpur Elephant Reserve by the Govt. of Chhattisgarh.
The flora of the sanctuary mainly comprises bamboo and sal forests, etc. The mammals (fauna) that inhabit this sanctuary include Asian elephants, royal Bengal tigers, leopards, bears, wild boars, wolves, chital, four-horned antelope, barking deer, red jungle fowl, striped hyenas, etc.
12) Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Gujarat
Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, which is also known as Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary, is situated in the Little Rann of Kutch in the Gujarat state of India. It occupies an area of 4954 sq. km. that makes it the largest wildlife sanctuary in the country.
It was established in 1972 under the wildlife protection act of 1972. It is the only place in India that is home to the endangered Indian Wild Ass, which is a subspecies of the Onager (Asiatic wild ass species). It is also called ghudkhar or khur in the local language.
This place is a seasonal wetland cum saline desert with very less vegetation such as grasses and dry thorny shrubs. Besides wild ass, it is a natural habitat to a large number of species of mammals, reptiles, and birds. The other famous mammals of this place are chinkara, desert fox, caracals, jackals, Indian wolves, striped hyenas, blackbug and nilgais. There are also lots of migratory birds that visit this place such as geese, stoneplovers, geese, godwits, sandpiper, saras cranes, Indian flamingos, etc.
13) Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, Maharashtra
Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary is not only a sanctuary but also a world heritage site. It is located in Satara district of Maharashtra in the Western Ghats. It covers an area of around 400 sq. km. and was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1985.
The flora of the Koyan wildlife sanctuary comprises dense forests where different species of tree can be found such as Jambul, pisa, kinjal, kumbha, katak, nana, gela, anjani, and bibba. The fauna comprises of diverse species of mammals such as royal Bengal tiger, leopard, sloth bear, Indian bison, sambar deer, mouse deer, barking deer, Indian giant squirrel, etc.
The popular birds of this sanctuary include hear-spotted woodpecker, Asian fairy bluebird, crested goshawk, long-tailed Nightjar, etc. and the reptiles like python and king cobras are also found here. The famous things to do at this place are jungle safari, bird watching and nature walk.
14) Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary, West Bengal
Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the Darjeeling District of West Bengal. It was established in 1915 that makes it one of the oldest wildlife sanctuaries in India. It occupies an area of around 38 sq. km. at an altitude of around 2200 metres.
The flora of the sanctuary comprises dense forest with different types of trees and vegetation such as pines, birch and oak and over 300 flowering plants.
Many high-altitude animals inhabit this place such as Himalayan black bear, wild pig, barking deer, jungle cat, leopard, Assam macaque, common rhesus monkey and Himalayan flying squirrel. It is also rich in bird species some of which are golden back woodpecker, red jungle fowl, hornbills, black-backed fowl, etc. This place also has India's cycle trail of 20 km length through the thick pine forests. The famous activities of this place include cycling, bird watching, jungle safari, etc.
15) Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha
Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary is a famous sanctuary in Odisha. It occupies an area of around 1100 sq. km. and is located in the south-west of Puri in Odisha. It is a birdwatcher's paradise where you can spot a large number of bird species. Some of the popular birds are flamingos, white-billed storks, open-billed storks, herons, seagulls, spotbilled pelicans, kingfishers, etc.
The other highlight of the sanctuary is Chilika Lake where you can spot dolphins in the blue water of the lake and various other fishes and aquatic creatures like prawns, crabs, lobsters, and more.
Chilika Lake is the most diverse ecosystem of this sanctuary and also the largest internal salt water body of Asia. The flora of the Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha comprises both aquatic and non-aquatics plants. Over 700 plant species have been found in and around the Chilika Lake or sanctuary.
Apart from birds and sea creatures, mammals like spotted deer, hyenas, blackbuck, and golden jackals can be spotted here. The famous activities for the tourists in the Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary are bird watching, nature trek, sunrises and sunset view, dolphin watching, and more.
16) Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh
Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary is the largest wildlife sanctuary of Madhya Pradesh located in the Sagar & Damoh districts of Madhya Pradesh. It is spread over 1197 sq. km. and is a part of a large forested landscape. It was designated as a sanctuary in 1975.
The flora of this sanctuary mainly consists of dry and deciduous vegetation including tree species like teak, saja, ber, amla, bhirra, etc. Indian wolf is the main mammal of this sanctuary. The other mammals include royal Bengal tiger, striped hyena, Bengal fox, wild dog, Muggar crocodile, golden jackal, Indian grey mongoose, four-horned antelope, nilgai and bears and more.
The major reptiles of this sanctuary include mugger crocodile, tortoise, snakes, and monitor lizard. Some of the popular birds of this place are cranes, owls, quails, lapwings, cranes, doves, eagles, and vultures. Major things to do in Nauradehi wildlife sanctuary include jungle safari, bird watching, nature walk, etc.
17) Landfall Island Wildlife Sanctuary (LIWS), Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Landfall Island Wildlife Sanctuary is located on the northernmost island of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It became a wildlife sanctuary in 1987 and is home to the native aka-chari tribe. It occupies an area of around 29 sq. km. and offers a natural habitat for a large number of species of mammals and other creatures.
The flora of this sanctuary mainly comprises tropical rain forests including wetlands, beaches, mangroves, and more. It is home to Andaman Water Monitor, Hawksbill Turtle, Green Sea Turtle, and various other animals and sea creatures. It is also inhabited by various bird species such as white-headed starling, Andaman drongo, serpent eagle, Andaman coucal, and more. Some of the popular activities of this place include snorkelling, swimming, stroll by the beach, etc.
18) Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary, Hyderabad
Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary offers you a perfect setting to explore nature in its purest form. It covers an area of 806 sq. km. and was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1953 by the govt. of Hyderabad. It is located 110 km far from Warangal. The Dayyam Vagu River flows through this place and divides it into two equal parts.
It has dense forests, rising and falling plains, springs and streams. The flora comprises teak, bamboo, madhuca, pterocrpus, maddi and more. It is home to various rare wild animals such as royal Bengal tiger, wolf, chinkara, panther, jackals, four-horned antelope, spotted deer, black buck, jackals, sloth bear, etc. It is also inhabited by various birds and reptiles like cobra, krait, python, and mugger crocodile and a large number of migratory birds. The best time to visit this place is from October to April and the famous things to do in this sanctuary include jungle safari, bird watching, nature walk, etc.
19) Kalakkad Mundanthurai Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu
Kalakkad Mundanthurai Sanctuary is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Tamil Nadu and is located in the Southern Western Ghats. It is spread over an area of 895 sq. km. and was established in Tamil Nadu.
The flora of this place is home to various endemic plant species and trees. The fauna of this place comprises diverse wildlife such as leopard, tiger, sloth bear, mouse deer, python, pit viper, flying lizard, king cobra, etc. The avifauna (birds) of this place include great Indian Hornbill, grey-headed bulbul, oriental bay owl, great pied hornbill, broad-tailed grass warbler, etc. The sanctuary also has lots of water bodies that are inhabited by lots of fishes and water creatures.
20) Interview Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Andaman Islands
Interview Island Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Andaman Islands. It is the largest Island Wildlife Sanctuary in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It occupies an area of around 99 sq. km. and separates the North Andaman Island and Middle Andaman Island. It is around 125 km far from Port Blair.
It was set up in 1985 to protect the elephants and its exotic, indigenous flora and fauna. Its flora comprises semi-green forests, littoral forests, mangroves, marshland and some rare plants.
The fauna of the island apart from elephants comprises various other animals such as spotted deer, common palm civet, Andaman wild pig, three-striped palm squirrel, Andaman palm civet, etc.
Besides mammals, it is also home to unique species of birds such as white-headed starling, Andaman woodpecker, Andaman cuckoo-dove, edible-nest swiftlets, Andaman serpent-eagle, and more. Famous things to do at this place include bird watching, safari, and water activities.