Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary

Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary

News Analysis   /   Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary

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Published on: July 27, 2023

Source: The Indian Express

Context:

Recently, in a significant development for tiger conservation efforts, the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court has issued a directive to the Goa government to notify the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary and its surrounding areas as a tiger reserve under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 within three months from 24th July 2023.

About the Sanctuary :

Located in the Indian state of Goa, the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary is a nature lover’s paradise, known for its rich biodiversity and stunning landscapes. Spanning over an area of 208.5 square kilometers, this sanctuary is a precious gem in the Western Ghats of South India. It is situated in North Goa District, Sattari taluka, near the town of Valpoi. With its diverse range of flora and fauna, the sanctuary has gained recognition for its ecological significance.

Biodiversity and Geography :

The sanctuary is nestled within the Western Ghats, an ecologically sensitive region. It is characterized by elevations ranging from 200 meters in the west to 560 meters in the center, encompassing the majestic Vagheri Hills, including Vagheri peak at an elevation of 560 meters – the highest point in North Goa. These hills are a natural habitat for a variety of wildlife species, and the sanctuary’s unique discovery of a flowing lake or waterbody shaped like the map of India adds to its charm.

The Mhadei River, also known as the Mandovi River downstream, flows through the sanctuary, playing a crucial role as the lifeline of Goa. Originating in Karnataka, it travels through 9.4 kilometers of the sanctuary’s territory before meeting the Arabian Sea at Panaji after a total journey of 81.2 kilometers in Goa.

Potential Tiger Reserve Status :

The sanctuary’s incredible biodiversity and the presence of Bengal tigers have prompted considerations to designate Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary as a Project Tiger Reserve. The Bombay High Court directed the Goa government to notify the sanctuary and certain contiguous areas as a tiger reserve under the Wildlife Protection Act. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has been actively pushing for the creation of this reserve to safeguard the resident tiger population.

Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary

Location and Landscape:

Situated in the Northern part of Goa, Sanguem taluka, near Valpoi town.

Boasts picturesque waterfalls, including Vazra Sakla Falls and Virdi Falls.

Famed for its nesting grounds of critically endangered Long-billed vultures near Vazra Falls.

Showcases a diverse landscape with thick moist deciduous forests and some evergreen species.

Noteworthy for sacred groves safeguarding rare and indigenous trees.

Rich Biodiversity:

Abounds with Indian gaur, Tigers, Barking deer, Sambar deer, Wild boar, Indian hare, and more.

A haven for herpetologists, thanks to various snakes, including the ‘big four’ venomous snakes: Indian krait, Russell’s viper, Saw-scaled viper, and Spectacled cobra.

Designated as an International Bird Area, providing a habitat for several bird species like Malabar parakeet and Rufous babbler.

Plays a vital role in the conservation of tigers in Goa.

Unique Geographical Features:

Home to the three highest peaks in Goa: Sonsogod (1027 mts), Talavche Sada (812 mts), and Vageri (725 mts).

The lifeline of Goa, Mhadei River, originates in Karnataka, passes through the sanctuary, and meets the Arabian Sea at Panaji.

Serves as a catchment area for the Mhadei River, ensuring its vital contribution to the region’s water resources.

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