Sanctuaries in Odisha: Nature’s Treasure Strove
Situated on the eastern coast of India, Odisha is a state with a lot of varied topography. Nearly one-third of the state was once covered with dense forests which were spread over 37.34% of the total land area of Odisha. With a 480-kilometre coastline along Bay of Bengal and with a number of rivers, mountain ranges and lakes, Odisha has a rich collection of flora and fauna.
It is a fact Odisha has lost a lot of forest cover has been denuded lately. But even today, one of its greatest attractions is its vast expanses of unspoiled natural landscape that offer a protected yet natural habitat to the state’s incredible wildlife. There are many wildlife sanctuaries in Odisha like Simlipal National Park, Chilika Lake, Bhitarkanika Wild life Sanctaury, Nandankanan Zoological Park, Ushakothi Sanctuary, Satkosia Sanctuary, Baisipalli Wildlife Sanctuary, Ambapani Sanctuary, Khalasuni Sanctuaryand Balukhand Sancturay, etc.
Similipal National Park:
Located about 320 kilometres from state capital Bhubaneswar in the north-eastern part of Odisha, Simplipal National Park in Mayurbhanj district, was declared a reserve forest for tigers in the year 1973. It is a huge expanse of lush green forest with waterfalls and is mostly inhabited by tigers, elephants, leopards, chowsinghas, hyenas, wolves, sambars, chitals, mouse deers, gaurs, giant squirrels, peafowls, hill mynas etc. The sanctuary also has marsh crocodiles and monitor lizards, etc. Government of India declared Simlipal as a biosphere reserve in 1994 and it was included in the UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves list in 2009.
Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary:
Spread over an area of nearly 672 square kilometers, it is located under Kendrapara district of Odisha. The major fauna in Bhitarkanika are – leopard, fishing cat, hyena, jungle cat, wild pig, spotted deer, sambhar, porcupine, dolphins, saltwater crocodiles including partial white (‘sankhua’) crocodiles, water monitor lizard, terrapins, marine turtles, varieties of resident and migratory birds etc. The sanctuary has mostly mangrove plants like Bani, Sundari, Rai, Keruan, Hental, Sisumar, etc. The Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary has been protecting estuarine crocodiles since 1975.
Brackish water coastal lagoon on the Bay of Bengal and located on the south of the mouth of River Mahanadi River, Chilika Lake is the largest coastal lake in India. It is protected by the Chilka (Nalaban) Wildlife Sanctuary, which harbors over 150 migratory and resident species of birds. The sanctuary covers 15.53 square kilometers of Khurda, Puri and Ganjam districts. It also has varieties of reptiles, aquatic mammals like dolphins and Olive Ridley Turtles.
Nandankanan Zoological Park:
Nandankanan Zoological Park, established in 1960 over an area of 14.16 square kilometres is located in the Khurda district of Odisha in the outskirts of capital city Bhubaneswar. Apart from its huge range of wild animals, birds and reptiles in enclosures, the park also is famous for its white tiger safari, lion safari, aquarium, aviary, natural lake and Botanical Garden. The zoological park also has orangutan, chimpanzee, gharial breeding facilities.
The Satkosia Sanctuary is an oasis of idyllic green that sprawls across a generous expanse of 745.52 square kilometres in districts of Angul, Nayagarh and Phulbani. The sanctuary came into being in the year 1976 and is a hit with all nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts and adventure freaks. It has been notified as the second tiger reserve of the state. The common wildlife animals one can spot in Satkosia are tiger, leopard, striped hyena, wild dog, Indian wolf, sloth bear, sambar, chital, barking deer, mouse deer, chowsingha, nilgai, wild pig, gaur, elephant, gharial, mugger, monitor lizard, chameleon, terrapins, snakes and varieties of both resident and migratory birds. The sanctuary is filled with Sal, Karada, Dhawra Piasal, Teak, Asan, Bamboo trees.
Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary:
Located in Kendrapara district, Gahirmatha is the only marine wildlife sanctuary in Odisha. It is spread over 1435 square kilometers, which includes 1408 square kilometres of water body and 27square kilometres of land mass including reserve forests, mud flats and accreted sand bars. The sanctuary is famous for Olive Ridley sea turtles. These turtles migrate in huge numbers from November first week every winter for mating and nesting along the coast.
Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary:
Located near state capital Bhubaneswar Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary has an area of 175.79 square kilometers, excluding mining area of 17.6 square kilometer. The sanctuary with Sal, Piasal, Asan, Bamboo trees, is spread over Khurda and Cuttack districts. Though the forest has lost of flora and fauna due to illegal tree felling and poaching, but still it is home to wild animal s like tiger, leopard, sambar, spotted deer, gaur, elephant, etc.
Balukhand-Konark Wildlife Sanctuary:
Situated in Puri district, Balukhand-Konark Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over an area of 71.72 square kilometers. Despite deforestation and poaching one can still find wild animals like striped hyena, jungle cat, blackbuck, spotted deer in this sanctuary, which too has a good collection of flora with Casuarina, Tamarind, Anacardium, Karanja, Polanga and Neem trees.
Hadagarh Wildlife Sanctuary:
Located in Keonjhar district of Odisha, Hadagarh Wildlife Sanctuary spread over 191.06 square kilometers has lot of Sal trees. The common fauna spotted in Hadagarh are leopards, wild dogs, mugger, elephants, etc.
Baisipalli Wildlife Sanctuary:
Located in Nayagarh district, the sanctuary has an area of 168.35 square kilometers. The common species found are tiger, leopard, sambar, spotted deer, bear, elephant, etc. The sanctuary has mostly Sal, Karado, Piasal, Kurum, Asan, Bamboo trees.
Kotgad Wildlife Sanctuary:
Kotgad Wildlife Sanctuary in Baliguda sub-division of Phulbani district has an area of 399 square kilometers. Important species found in the sanctuary are – tiger, leopard, bison, elephant, sambar, spotted deer, varieties of birds and reptiles.
Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary:
Spread over an area of 272.75 square kilometers in Balasore district of Odisha, Kuldiha Sanctuary has a good collection of various fauna like elephant, bison, sambar, giant squirrel, leopard, varieties of birds, and reptiles. It also has a lot of Sal, Bija, Asana, Bamboo cover.
Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary:
Located in Kalahandi district, Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary has an area of the 147.66 square kilometer. The important species of fauna found in the sanctuary includes tiger, leopard, wild pig, bison, sambar, nilgai, barking deer, mouse deer, varieties of birds and reptiles.
The Ushakothi Sanctuary was set up in the year 1987 at Yavatmal at a distance of about 48 kilometres from Ushakothi in Sambalpur district.The animals spotted mostly here are – tigers, elephants, sloth bear, sambar, nilgai, cheetah, wolves and leopards.
Khalasuni Wildlife Sanctuary:
With an area of 116 square kilometers, Khalasuni Wildlife Sanctuary in Rairakhol sub-division of Sambalpur district is home to species like tiger, leopard, elephant, bison, sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, mouse deer and wild dog, varieties of birds and reptiles.
Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary:
Spread over an area of 600 square kilometers in Nuapada district, the sanctuary is mostly covered with Teak, Sal, Piasal trees. One can spot various wild animals like – tiger, leopard, hyena, barking deer, chital, bison, sambar, and varieties of birds and reptiles.
Lakheri-Valley Wildlife Sanctuary:
Located in Gajapati district, Lakheri-Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over an area of 185.87 square kilometers. One can find lots of tiger, leopard, bear, hyena, wild boar, spotted deer, and elephant. The sanctuary is mostly covered with Teak, Sal, Piasal, Bamboo plantiations.
Badrama Wildlife Sanctuary:
Home to various wildlife species like elephant, tiger, leopard, hyena, wild bear, spotted deer, Badrama Wildlife Sanctuary in Sambalpur district has lots of Teak, Sal, Piasal, Bamboo trees. The sanctuary in the western Odisha district has a total area of 304.03 square kilometers.
Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary:
With an area of 346.91 square kilometers and lots of Bija, Sal, Asana, Aanla, Dhaura trees, Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary in Bargarh district of Odisha is known for good collection fauna like tiger, leopard, hyena, bison, sambar, spotted deer, chousingha, migratory birds, monitor lizard and chameleon.