Spread across 208 sq km, Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area located about 52 km away from Panaji, the state capital of Goa. The sanctuary is high in biodiversity and is being considered for being elevated to the status of a Project Tiger Reserve because of the presence of Royal Bengal Tigers. Located in the North Goa district of Sanguem Taluk near Valpoi town, the route to the sanctuary from Panaji passes through hills, valleys and waterfalls. The sanctuary is linked to the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary and together the two reserves cover an area of 420 sq km. Covered with lush green evergreen forests, trekking is allowed in few trails.
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The three highest peaks in Goa – Sonsogod at an elevation of 3369 ft, Talache Sada at an elevation of 2664 ft and Vageri at an elevation of 2378 ft – are located in the hill ranges within the sanctuary. A notable attraction of the sanctuary is the twin waterfalls of Vazra Sakla. The water drops from a height of 469 ft. Another popular tourist spot is the Virdi Falls in the Chorla Ghat region. The Mandovi River, the lifeline of Goa which originates in the neighboring Karnataka, flows for almost 10 km across the sanctuary and is known as the Mhadei River. The entire sanctuary acts as a huge catchment area for the river.
Over a thousand species of flowering plants and rare endemic orchids have been spotted in the sanctuary. There are number of sacred groves present here as well. The sacred groves are said to protect the vegetation around it. The sacred groves are the best examples of attempts by locals to protect the environment. Villagers use the sacred groves to venerate their gods.
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Indian Gaur, the state animal of Goa, can be spotted here along with sloth bears, mongooses, wild dogs, slender loris, deers and panthers. The sanctuary boasts of a wide variety of birds making it a bird watcher’s paradise. It is also the abode of many endangered species of birds.
Bird watchers and photographers come to the sanctuary to photograph rare birds. Malabar Parakeet, Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon, Hornbill, Grey-Headed Bulbul And White-Bellied Blue flycatcher can be spotted here with a total of 255 species of birds being documented in the sanctuary.
Snakes like Russell’s viper and Black Slender Coral Snake can be spotted here. There are 257 recorded species of butterflies in the sanctuary.
Tiger sightings are rare but with the help of an experienced guide, you can spot the regal creature. Goa tourism is promoting Mhadei River as a white water rafting destination.
There are camp facilities provided by the forest authorities. Panaji offers a wide variety of accommodation options to suit every need from budget to mid-range and luxury accommodation.
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