Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary is safe for both common and rare species.
Goa, well known for its nightlife, has much more to offer than beaches. From panthers to poisonous Indian snakes, Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary manages to house almost every common and rare species. One of the unexplored sites of India, this place is set up to protect and preserve wildlife.
One of Goa’s most treasured possessions, the sanctuary resides in the Western Ghats and spreads over a vast area of 208 km2 near the village of Valpoi.
This sanctuary is known for the recent sighting of Bengal tigers on its territory. There is a proposal to make it a “Project Tiger”, a tiger reserve. This is one of the best places to try and spot tigers in the state.
In addition to the large number of animals and plants it houses, other activities are popular here, especially during the monsoon season. These include hiking and rafting.
How to get to Mhadei Shrine
The sanctuary is located in the northeast of Goa, in the Sattari taluka. The town of Valpoi, famous for white water rafting during the monsoons, is quite close to this area.
When to go to Mhadei Shrine
Like most other shrines in Goa, Mhadei Shrine is also equipped to accommodate overnight visitors, with private rest houses and resorts nearby. One can organize guided tours, hikes and hikes in the sanctuary. Although it is most visited from October to March, the monsoons are also a great time of year to visit.
History of Mhadei Shrine
This sanctuary was formed very recently. Its official declaration as a wildlife sanctuary came in 1999. The formation of this sanctuary made Goa the only state in all of India to have completely protected the Western Ghats within its borders. The Western Ghats are known for their very high level of biodiversity both in terms of flora and fauna.
The sanctuary area is densely forested with moist deciduous vegetation and some evergreen species as well. The sanctuary is particularly known for its sacred groves which protect rare and native trees. One of the most unusual trees found here is an evergreen variety of the Ashoka tree with distinctive saffron-colored flowers.
There are also over a thousand species of flowering plants found here, including rare and endemic orchids.
A number of animals can be seen in the sanctuary. Some of them rarely, while others are commonly seen. The animals you can usually expect to see, especially if you have a guide who can show you the best spots, are; Indian gaur, barking deer, sambar deer, Asian palm civet, lesser Indian civet, wild boar, Indian hare, red mongoose, black-faced langur and Bonnet macaque.
Residents of the sanctuary that are seen more rarely include the black panther, sloth bear, leopard, tiger, dhole, jungle cat, mouse deer, giant squirrel, flying squirrel, the Indian pangolin and the slender loris which is an endangered species. The camp is also home to over 255 species of birds; 53 of them show direct signs of breeding here. It has been declared an International Bird Area due to the presence of the Nilgiri wood pigeon, Malabar parakeet, Malabar gray hornbill, Grey-headed bulbul, Rufous babbler, White-bellied blue flycatcher and Crimson-backed sunbird.
The sanctuary is a huge attraction for herpetologists as it contains a wide variety of snakes including all of the ‘big four’ of Indian venomous snakes which are the Indian krait, Russell’s viper, saw-scaled viper and cobra in glasses. Additionally, careful observers might encounter the banded kukri snake, banded runner, Beddome’s keel snake, black slender coral snake, Brahminy blind snake, checkered keel snake, collared cat snake, common bronzeback, the common Indian cat snake, the common sand boa, the common wolf snake, the common vine snake, copper-headed trinket snake, green viper, humpbacked viper, Indian rat snake, Indian rock python, king cobra, Malabar viper , Monocled Cobra, Ocellated Shield Tail, Ornate Flying Snake, Red Sand Boa, Sri Lankan Cat Snake, Striped Kukri Snake, Striped Keel Snake, Travancore Wolf Snake, Tree Snake, Whitaker’s Sand Boa and the yellow-spotted wolf snake. The Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary is also home to a number of amphibians including the endangered marbled ramanella, vulnerable Maharashtra bush frog, Beddome leaping frog (Indian Beddome frog) and Malabar hovering frog . There are also a number of endangered caecilians (legless amphibians), including the Nadkarni caecil, Mhadei caecil and Goan caecil.
There have also been sightings of a record number of butterfly species in the wildlife park. Of the 330 known to reside in the Western Ghats, 257 have been spotted in the sanctuary. Among these are the southern birdwing which is the largest butterfly in South India, striped tiger, common jezebel, common Indian crow, blue mormon and blue tiger butterfly which the you can see until the end of the summer.
There are many other sights to see and activities to do while visiting Mhadei Shrine. The most popular among these are:
Vagheri Hills and Chorla Ghat – These are some of the highest mountains in Goa. They are very popular with hikers and climbers and treks are organized for enthusiasts to scale their high peaks.
Waterfalls – There are several scenic waterfalls within the boundaries of the sanctuary. The most important are Vazra Sakla Falls and Virdi Falls. The cliff near Vazra Falls is notable for being the nesting ground of critically endangered Long-billed Vultures.
Whitewater rafting – the Mhadei River for which the sanctuary is named, is a spectacular place to indulge in this adventure sport. The rapids on the river are class 2 and 3 rapids and suitable for beginners and seasoned rafters. This sport is mainly available during the monsoon season and usually starts in early July.
Hiking and trekking – Apart from climbing and mountain trails in the hilly areas of the sanctuary, there are also several hiking trails in the wildlife park. These trails vary in length and roughness of terrain, so it is advisable to book the services of an experienced guide.
A large and diverse population of plants and animals makes this place a paradise for ecotourists, nature lovers and researchers. Visits at different times of the year would allow you to see the different inhabitants of this animal park in their natural environment. The conservation work undertaken by this sanctuary is also commendable and Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary also hopes to gain the title of “Tiger Reserve” soon.