15 Major Wildlife Sanctuary in India

  • Post last modified:21 January 2023
  • Reading time:27 mins read
  • Post category:Tourism in India

Wildlife Sanctuaries in India are protected areas established to preserve and protect the country’s diverse and unique wildlife and natural landscapes. These sanctuaries provide a safe haven for many endangered species, including tigers, elephants, leopards, and many species of birds and reptiles.

They also protect the habitats of these animals, ensuring that they have the resources they need to survive. Wildlife sanctuaries in India are established and managed by the Indian government through the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in order to conserve the country’s biodiversity.

In addition to preserving wildlife, many wildlife sanctuaries in India also serve as important eco-tourism destinations, providing visitors with the opportunity to see and learn about the country’s diverse and unique wildlife. Many of these sanctuaries also offer guided tours, safaris, and other activities that allow visitors to experience the natural beauty of the area. Wildlife Sanctuaries in India are also governed by the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, which also establishes the rights and responsibilities of the authorities and local communities in their management and conservation.

Overall, wildlife sanctuaries in India play a vital role in the conservation of the country’s biodiversity and also provide opportunities for people to appreciate, learn and enjoy the country’s natural heritage.

Wild Life Sanctuaries in India

The important wildlife sanctuaries of India are discussed below:

Wild Life Sanctuaries in India
Wild Life Sanctuaries in India (Source: mapsofindia)

Gir Wildlife Sanctuary

It is the last preserve of the Asiatic Lion located in the dry deciduous forests of Gujarat. The sanctuary’s waters are known to be filled with numerous marsh crocodiles catering to the reptilian interests of spectators.

Bori Wildlife Sanctuary

At a distance of 125 kms from Bhopal, the sanctuary is situated in the southern slopes of Satpura Range. The park has mixed deciduous and bamboo forests. The wild animals of the Bori Wildlife Sanctuary include Tiger, jackal, leopard, Indian wild dog, jungle cat, stripedhyena, Indian fox, chital, sambar, muntjac, chevrotain, nilgai, four horned antelope, chinkara or mountain gazelle, gaur and many others. The main attraction of the Bori Wildlife Sanctuary is the tiger.

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

It is located at a distance of 125 kms from Goa, it is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka. The sanctuary has an area of over 834.16 sq.km. Dandeli wildlife sanctuary is famous for the teak, rose trees, valuable unidentified medicinal plants. Dandeli wildlife sanctuary situated on banks of Kali River. The sanctuary has at least 400 species of birds. Apart from the bird life, there is a rich content of animal diversity as well contained in the sanctuary. Among them are the famous Black Panthers, Slender Loris and big king cobra.

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Among the Cardamom Hill region of Western Ghats lies one of the largest and most popular wild life sanctuaries of India. Periyar is situated close to the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Apart from Elephants, the other animals to be seen in the Periyar sanctuary are Gaur, Wild Pigs, Sambar, Barking Deer, Mouse Deer, Dole or Indian Wild Dog and Tiger. Four species of primates are found at Periyar – the rare lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiri Langur, Common Langur and Bonnet Macaque.

Illustration – Periyar National Park

Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (PNP) is located in the districts of Idukki and Pathanamthitta in Kerala. A famous elephant reserve and a tiger reserve the total area of the national park is 925 square km and was declared as the Periyar National Park in 1982. Often known as the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary or simply Thekkady, the park is located at 4 km from nearest road head Kumily, and 100 kms from Kottayam.

The Pamba and Periyar Rivers flows in the region gives life through its water to flora and fauna species in the forest. The sanctuary surrounds picturesque 26 square kilometers Periyar lake, formed by the building of Mullaperiyar Dam in 1895. The tiger population in the sanctuary is mere 53 and elephants are numbered around 900 to 1000 as per 2010 survey.

Other mammals found here include Gaur, Sambar, barking-deer, mouse deer, Dholes, mongoose, foxes and leopards. Four species of primates are found at Periyar – the rare lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiri Langur, the common langur, and the Bonnet Macaque. So far 320 different kinds of birds have been counted in Periyar including darters, cormorants, kingfishers, the great Malabar Pied Hornbill andracket-tailed Drongos. The buffer zone of sanctuary is the home to the temple of Sabarimala, which is visited by about 4 million pilgrims annually.

Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary

Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary is located next to the Central state Farm at Aralam in the Kannur district in Kerala. The Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1984. The Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 55 square kms. The major wildlife found in the Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary are the Elephant, Bison, Sambar, Deer, Boar, Sloth Bear, Leopard, Jungle Cat and different types of squirrels.

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Idukki district, about 40 kms. from Thodupuzha town in Kerala. The Idukki Wildlife sanctuary was formed in 1976. The Idukki reservoir or the lake which is about 33 square kms. surrounds the Idukki Wildlife sanctuary and is formed by the three dams Cheruthoni, Idukki and Kulamavu. The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 77 square kms. The major wildlife animals found in the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary are the Elephant, Deer, Bear, Leopard, Tiger, Wild Bison and Wild pig etc. Various reptiles and birds found in this sanctuary are Hornbill, Kingfisher, Woodpecker, Cobra, Viper, Python, Rat snake, etc.

Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary

Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary is situated between Mysore and Ooty. The Tamil word ‘Mudumalai’ means ‘the ancient hill range’. Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Nilgiri Hills at a height of 1000 m. This sanctuary covers an area of 321 square km. Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary has a variety of vegetation which ranges from tropical evergreen, moist deciduous and teak forests to grasslands and swamps.

Different animals like deer, Chital or Spotted deer, Sambar, Barking Deer and elephants can be seen throughout the sanctuary. The other prominent animals which can be seen in this sanctuary are Jackal, Hyena, Wild cat, Civet cat, Bonnet macaque, Langur, the giant squirrel and flying squirrel. Alongside the animals, various birds are also found in this sanctuary including the Malabar Trogon, the Malabar Hornbill, the Malabar Grey Hornbill, the Great Black Woodpecker, the Crested Hawk Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Owls, Barbets, Parakeets, Minivets, Jungle fowl, Peafowl, etc.

Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary is located about 40 kms from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. It is the drainage basin of the Neyyar river and its tributaries, Mullayar and Kallar. The Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1958. This sanctuary covers a total area of 128 square km. The major wildlife which can be seen in the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary are elephant, gaur, sambar, barking deer, wild boar, Indian porcupine, three- striped squirrel, tiger, Malabar squirrel, lion–tailed macaque, mouse deer, bonnet macaque, Nilgiri tahr, Nilgiri langur etc.

Various reptiles which can also be seen in this sanctuary are Cobra, viper, python, rat snake, flying snake, lizard etc. Various birds are also found in this sanctuary like Common myna, kingfisher, white-breasted water hen, little green heron, woodpecker, house crow, koel, Indian cuckoo, grey jungle fowl, hoopoe, jungle myna, darter, little cormorant, little egret, brahminy kite etc.

Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary

Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary is situated between the Anamala ranges of Tamil Nadu and the Nelliampathy ranges of Kerala. There are three reservoirs which harbours several varieties of aquatic fauna. The Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 285 square kms. The major wildlife found in the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary are the Bonnet macaque, Nilgiri Langur, Loris, Gaur, Nilgiri Tahr, sambar, Barking deer, Spotted deer, Wild boar, Lion-tailed macaque, Jungle cat, Civet, Mongoose, fox, bear, elephant, tiger, leopard, pangoline etc.

The crocodiles, varanus, pond terapin, cane turtle, gecko, skunk, chameleon, snakes like king cobra, spectacled cobra, krait, viper, python, green keel back, rat snake, vine snake, fishes like Aral, baral, Vattudi, Thilopia, Noovi, mooshu, Poochutti, Kollottie, exyprius, Taral, birds like darter, little cormorant, black eagle, lesser adjutant stork, black capped kingfisher, great Indian hornbill, broad billed roller, black woodpecker can also be seen in the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary.

Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary

Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the vicinity of Thiruvananthapuram district in Kerala. The place was declared as a sanctuary in 1983. The Peppara Wildlife sanctuary covers an area of 53 square kms. The major wildlife found in the Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary are the Elephant, Gaur, Sambar, Barking deer, Wild boar, Tiger, Panther, Wild dog, Malabar squirrel, Lion-tailed macaque, Mouse deer and Nilgiri langur. Along with these, various reptiles are also found in the Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary such as King cobra, python and a variety of moths and butterflies. Various birds are also found in this sanctuary like Darter, little cormorant, pied kingfisher and egret.

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Wayanad district in Kerala. The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1973. This sanctuary is rich in flora and fauna and an integral part of the Nilgiri biosphere reserve. Methods of scientific usage are been employed in order to protect the tribes, living in the region. The major wildlife found in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary are Elephant, Tiger, Panther, Jungle Cat, Civet Cat, Monkey, Wild dog, bison, deer, bear, etc. Monitor lizard, variety of snakes, birds like peacock, babbler, cuckoo, owl, woodpecker, jungle fowl, etc. can also be seen in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.

Himachal Wildlife Circuit

The alpine landscape such as mountains, valleys and meadows and dense forest and climate make this region an in ideal hotspot for wildlife. There are several wildlife sanctuaries that come within the Himachal Wildlife Circuit. In total there are 32 wildlife reserves and national parks in Himachal Pradesh. Prominent amongst them are Chail Wildlife Sanctuary, Churdhar Wildlife Sanctuary, Majathal Sanctuary, Renuka Sanctuary, Kanawar Sanctuary, Daranghati Sanctuary, Kalatop Khajjar Sanctuary and Maharana Pratap Sanctuary.

Besides wildlife sanctuaries, Mountain Rivers, breathtaking waterfalls, rocky forest trails and steep climbs offer ideal tourist experience. Wild animals like chital, Sambhar, blackbuck, barking deer, goral and Birds such as pintails, cranes, jungle fowl, Monal Phesant are common in such sanctuaries.

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is a tiger project in Assam. The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the India’s well known World heritage site. It covers an area of 519.77 square kms. It is famous for its unique biodiversity. It is covered with tall grass and scattered patches of woodland with simul, khoir, udal, sida, bohera and kanchan trees.

The wildlife which can be seen in the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary are the Tigers, Hispid Hare, Pigmy Hog, Golden Langur, Indian Rhinoceros, Asiatic Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Himalayan Bear, Wild Boar, Sambar, Swamp Deer, Hog Deer etc. Hundreds of the birds like Riverchats, Forktails, Cormorants, Ruddy Shelduck, Indian Hornbill and the Great Pied Hornbill migrate here during winter. Otters are frequently seen in the Manas river.

Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in West Kameng District of Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh attained its statehood on 20th February 1987. It is situated in the North-Eastern part of India with 83743 sq. kms area and has a long international border with Bhutan to the west (160 km), China to the north and north-east (1,080 km) and Myanmar to the east (440 km). It stretches from snow-capped mountains in the north to the plains of Brahmaputra valley in the south.

Arunachal is the largest state area-wise in the north-east region, even larger than Assam which is the most populous. It is situated between latitude 26° 30′ N and 29° 30 ‘ N and longitude 91° 30′ E and 97° 30′ E. Itanagar the capital of Arunachal Pradesh. West Kameng District of Arunachal Pradesh State in the Indian sub-continent is lying approximately between 91° 30′ to 92°40′ East longitudes and 26° 54′ to 28° 01’ North latitudes. The District is surrounded by Tibet region of China in the North, Bhutan in the West, Tawang District and East Kameng District of Arunachal Pradesh are in the Northwest and East respectively and the Southern boundary adjoins Sonitpur District of Assam.

The District has vast tourism potential. Like other parts of North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), it was also under the ‘Ministry of External Affairs’ and overall in-charge of the District was a ‘Political Officer. Later on Kameng Frontier Division was renamed as ‘Kameng District’ and the Political Officer was designated as ‘Deputy Commissioner’. On 1st June 1980, Kameng District was again bifurcated into ‘East Kameng District’ and ‘West Kameng District.

Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area of India in the Himalayan foothills of West Kameng District, Arunachal Pradesh. It conjoins Sessa Orchid Sanctuary to the northeast and Pakhui Tiger Reserve across the Kameng river to the east. Altitude ranges extremely from 500 metres (1,640 ft) to 3,250 meters (10,663 ft). It is a part of the Kameng Elephant Reserve. Eaglenest is notable as a prime bird watching site due to the extraordinary variety, numbers and accessibility of bird species there. After the discovery of a new Liocichla in 2005 many birders made the birding pilgrimage to this north-east corner of India and thereby becoming a popular bird watching destination in the recent years.

At ‘Eaglenest you bird’ along this wide track from Lama Camp (2300 m) up to Eaglenest Pass (2700 m) and then down to Bhompu (1900 m), Sessni (1200 m), Khellong and further down to the Doimara River (700 m). Tourist stayed in tented camps at Lama Camp and Bhompu and from these camps they birded along the different stretches of the road. The birding along this track with no traffic and through mostly undisturbed, pristine habitat was absolutely fabulous.

This Sanctuary is surrounded by two tribes Bugun and Sherdukpen tribes. Eaglenest is an excellent showcase for biodiversity between 400m and 3000m. Other areas in the vicinity like Kaziranga (50m; grassland and woodland), Nameri (100m; swamp forests), Pakke (100-300m; lowland evergreen foothill forest) and Dirang (1500-4200m; conifers, alpine scrub etc) complete the suite of biodiversity of this region.

West Kameng lies approximately between 91° 30’ to 92° 40’ East longitudes and 26° 54’ to 28° 01’ North latitudes. The district shares an international border with Tibet in the north, Bhutan in the west, Tawang District in the northwest, and East Kameng district in the east. The southern border is shared with Sonitpur district and Darrang district of Assam.

The topography of the district is mostly mountainous. A greater part of it falls within the higher mountain zone, consisting of a mass of tangled peaks and valleys. In West Kameng there are three principle mountain chains – part of Sela range, Bomdila range and Chaku range. The Sela range consists of a series of mountains arranged in the form of a big line from Tibet in the north to Bhutan in the west and thus forming a tough terrain to pass through.

The altitude of Sela range varies from 14,000 to 15,000 feet and Sela pass is 13,714 feet high. The Bomdila range has an average height of 9000 feet. South of Bomdila range lies the Chaku range (foot-hills range) having hills of quite low altitudes and is full of tropical forests with trees of great economic value and various types of wild game. The district is divided into three administrative sub-divisions viz. Bomdila, Thrizino, and Rupa and two independent Additional Deputy commissioner’s office at Singchung and Dirang. All the circle headquarters of the district are connected with the district headquarters (Bomdila) by roads.

Regular passenger services to Guwahati, Tezpur, Itanagar, Tawang and all the circle headquarters of the district are being provided by State Transport and private buses. Bhalukpong is the nearest railway station in the district situated at about 100 km from the Bomdila, while Salonibari (Tezpur, Assam) is the nearest airport about 160 km from the district headquarters.

Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary conjoins Sessa Orchid Sanctuary to the northeast and Pakke (Pakhui) wildlife sanctuary and Tiger Reserve across the Eaglenest is notable as a prime birding site due to the extraordinary variety, numbers and accessibility of bird species there.

Dos & Don’ts in a Wildlife Sanctuary

Blend in with the natural surroundings

The first and simplest rule is to blend in with the natural surroundings; no loud noises, no jarring colours, no bright lights if you are on a night safari etc. You will get to spot more wildlife if your presence is not made obvious; it is with a purpose that dull colours like browns, olive greens and khakis are worn on safaris. Flash and spotlights for photography are prohibited to prevent startling animals.

Do not litter the forest

While this reflects poorly on your upbringing and basic concepts of hygiene and orderliness, it also airs out a callous attitude towards the protection of the environment. Avoid using polythene bags, tetra packs and other bio non–degradable material or if they have to be used, carry them back with you after use, to be disposed off properly. They can harm animals if they are accidentally eaten by them and spoil the beauty of the sanctuary.

Keep your calm and maintain composure

This should be followed when in close proximity with animals. Children must be entrusted with able persons who can control them well. It is important to maintain a reasonable distance from all the animals since approaching too closely can disturb or provoke them.

Remember that animals by nature are shy and tend to hide

When they see a ‘foreigner’ namely a human being; they are unpredictable too; that is why they are ‘wild’ animals. Thus do not attempt to catch their attention so as to lure them out by throwing stones or making noises or grimaces

Be careful not to leave any combustible material around carelessly

This can start a forest fire. Smoking is strictly prohibited in the forest to minimise the risk to the wildlife here. Also, do ensure that mosquito coils or candles are tightly secured before lighting them.

Never stray away from the group, especially at riversides

Remember that you are the guest here and the hosts need not always be hospitable here. The allotted route maps are to be strictly followed and attention should be paid to the instructions given to you by trained personnel and guides.

Keep alcohol and other intoxicants away

This can lead to serious lapses in judgment, which can prove fatal in the jungle and all its wild ways that we humans are not very well versed with.

Do not disturb anything in the forest

Avoid collecting any plants or animals. Remember it is your responsibility to leave the forest the same way you found it for the next visitor and generations to come!

Report any instance of irresponsible behavior on the part of visitors or even staff /guides

As responsible people, do the authorities a favour by reporting any instance of irresponsible behavior on the part of visitors or even staff/guides. Poaching is another evil can be combated with your support. It is needless to say that your valuable suggestions and recommendations are most welcome, which will be forwarded to the relevant team to be looked into.

Must-haves While Visiting Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Mosquito / Insect Repellen
  • Sunscreen, Hat and Sunglasses
  • Antiseptic Cream, Medication and First Aid Kit
  • Socks and comfortable, sturdy shoes or boots
  • Binoculars and Camera (with Extra Film Rolls and Batteries)
  • Water Bottle and Rucksack with essential food supplies
  • Warm Clothing (in winters)
  • Small Torch
  • Personal hygiene requisites
  • Rain wear and umbrella

Note: Under the Wildlife Protection Act, one can be penalised up to the amount of Rs. 25,000/– and imprisonment up to seven years for the wildlife offence.

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