The rugged Western Ghats and the tropical climate of Goa is an ideal place for many species of birds, animals and plants to migrate here. The Sahayadris extend for a length of 600 kilometers in Goa, out of their total length of 3700 kilometers. There are many plants and trees that are exclusive to Goa and some were brought in the country by the Portuguese. Goa is blessed with over 1512 species of plants, 275 species of birds, over 60 species of reptiles and 48 genera of animals. Around 10 percent of Goa is especially reserved for wildlife.
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
Located about 52 kilometers from Panaji, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the smallest wildlife sanctuaries in Goa, spread over an area of just 80 square kilometers. The sanctuary houses many species of animals such as sambar, Indian bison, wild boar, jackal, black-faced langoor and many others. It is famous for its huge number of deer as well. Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary also provides shelter to leopards that have been wounded along with dancing bears and cobras. The sanctuary also offers fun elephant rides to the visitors on some days.
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
The second largest wildlife sanctuary in Goa, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over an area of 105 square kilometers. Situated in the Canacona Taluk in South Goa district, the wildlife sanctuary is located bout 76 kilometers from Panaji. Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is renowned for its thick dense forests with trees as tall as 100 feet. The forest consists of semi-evergreen, evergreen and deciduous trees. An interesting feature is a treetop watchtower located about 82 feet above a watering hole. This is the place where most animals come to drink water. It is one of the best places to visit in the sanctuary, especially at dawn and dusk.
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Created in the name of Dr. Salim Ali, one of the major ornithologists, the bird sanctuary is located on the western side of Chorao Island, along Mandovi River, just 12 kilometers from Panaji. With a huge area of over 1.78 square kilometers, this bird sanctuary is famous for its mangrove species. Many local and migratory species of birds can also be found here. Although the sanctuary is open to visitors throughout the year, one needs to take special permission from Chief Wildlife Warden, Forest Department, Junta House in Panaji, to enter the sanctuary. To reach this place, one needs to take a taxi from Panaji to Ribandar Ferry Wharf and from there, catch a ferry to Chorao Island.
Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary
One of the largest wildlife
sanctuaries in Goa, Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary covers an area of almost
240 square kilometers. Located about 60 kilometers from Panaji, this
sanctuary is situated along the northeastern border of Goa, near Molem.
Surrounded by thick forests of the Western Ghats, Bhagwan Mahaveer
Sanctuary also consists of a Molem National Park within the property.
Deer, Indian Bison, Monkeys, Giant Squirrels, Pythons, Cobras,
Elephants, Tigers and many more species of animals can be found over
here. Rich in diversity, this sanctuary is a paradise for bird-watchers.
Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary is also home to a few black panthers
however; spotting them might be a little difficult.