Spread across an area of over 86 sq km, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is the second largest wildlife reserve in Goa. Set up in 1969 to protect wildlife, the sanctuary is about 60 km from Panaji. The sanctuary is in Canacona taluk, southernmost taluk of Goa bordering Karnataka. The sanctuary consists of mostly deciduous forest with evergreen and semi-evergreen patches. The vegetation is so thick that hardly any sunlight reaches the ground.
There are eight natural trails spread throughout the reserve that have lengths ranging from 500 m to 5 km. There are six watchtowers in the sanctuary that can be used for watching the wildlife. Many rivers flow through the wildlife sanctuary with the Gal River and the Talpona River having their originating points within the sanctuary.
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The sanctuary is home to flying squirrels, Indian pangolins, four-horned antelopes, panthers, tigers and gazelles, sloth bears, Indian bisons, hyenas, slender loris, mouse deer, wild boars and deers, malabar pit vipers. Birds like White-bellied woodpecker, Velvet-fronted nuthatch, Heart-spotted woodpecker, White-eyed eagle, Rufous woodpecker and Malabar crested eagle can also be spotted. The wildlife can be observed from the vantage point of the watchtowers.
Private vehicles are allowed inside which allows you to explore the sanctuary from the convenience of your vehicle. Forest department maintains a Nature Interpretation Centre near the entrance of the sanctuary which is a valuable depository of knowledge. The Forest Department maintains campsites in the park and also provides cots, canvas tents and mosquito nets. The dense forest, mesmerizing landscape and the perennial streams come together to provide a unique wildlife experience.
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The sanctuary also has a canteen, amphitheatre, cycling trail and a garden for visitors. You can stay at the Forest Rest House or you can also book a tent near the entrance of the park. However, own food and water as the facilities inside the preserve are rare. You will need to obtain written permission from the Deputy Conservator of Forests in Panaji in advance if you wish to stay overnight inside the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary.
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