Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary

Year of compilation: 2004

Site description (baseline)
Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the border of Kolhapur and Sindhudurg districts. This beautiful Sanctuary is nestled in the Sahyadri Hills. It lies between two major reservoirs, Shahu Sagar and Laxmi Sagar in Kolhapur district. The terrain is undulating, with steep escarpments and dense forest. The soil is lateritic and in some areas there are huge plateaux with diverse flora and fauna. This forest used to be a hunting ground of the rulers of Kolhapur State, but later it was converted into a sanctuary. There are several sacred groves inside the Sanctuary, which are traditionally protected by the local people. Due to this, large stands of virgin forest still exist. This Sanctuary is the major source of water for two major irrigation projects in Kolhapur district. Besides, some parts of the Sanctuary are rich in bauxite ore, and many plateaux with high quality bauxite have been mined. The mining company wants more areas to be opened for mining - a major threat to this fragile ecosystem. As this area lies in the Western Ghats, the plant life is extremely rich. The forest types are Southern Semi-evergreen, Southern Moist Mixed Deciduous and Southern Evergreen. The major tree species are Memecylon umbellatum, Terminalia chebula, Careya arborea and Lagerstroemia microcarpa. Fruiting plants like Syzygium cumini, Ficus racemosa and Carissa spp. are found almost all over the area, attracting many frugivorous birds and mammals. Karvi Carvia callosa is the most important and widespread flowering plant species in this area, serving as a source of food for a multitude of herbivore species and insects. The Sanctuary also hosts threatened and endemic tree species such as Mappia foetida, Turpunia malbarica, Euphorbia longana, Elaeocarpus tectorium and Harpullia arborea.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: About 240 bird species have been recorded from the Sanctuary (G. Jathar pers. comm. unpubl. checklist), though a detailed study on the avifauna has not yet been done. The globally threatened Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon Columba elphinstonii is seen here in small number, especially during the fruiting period. The site lies in the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area (EBA 123) where Stattersfield et al. (1998) have identified 16 restricted range species. Two have been identified from this site but more are likely to occur here. The site represents Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forest). BirdLife International (undated) has listed 15 species in this biome, out of which five are found here. Many species of Biome-11 (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone) are also seen, especially at lower elevations where this site merges with the Deccan Plateau. Biome-11 includes a wide range of habitats, including both forests and open country. Many of the species of this biome have adapted to man-modified habitats. Some species have changed their distributions so much that they are found in other biomes also. During winter, many Himalayan forest birds are found here. Indian Blue Robin Luscinia brunnea, belonging to Sino-Tropical Temperate Forest (Biome-7) has been seen here. Some interesting species such as the Ceylon Frogmouth Batrachostomus moniliger have been reported from this Sanctuary (V. Giri pers. comm. 2003). The Yellow-browed Bulbul Iole indica, Dusky Eagle Owl Bubo coromandus, Great Pied Hornbill Buceros bicornis, Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus, Speckled Piculet Picumnus innominatus, and Malabar Crested Lark Galerida malabarica are commonly seen here.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: This Sanctuary is well known for its Gaur Bos frontalis population. Other mammal species include Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard P. pardus, Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis, Slender Loris Loris tardigradus, Mouse Deer Moschiola meminna and the elusive nocturnal Indian Pangolin Manis crassicaudata.

There are some endemic and endangered species of reptiles and amphibians, notably the Malabar Pit Viper Trimeresurus malabaricus, Deccan Ground Gecko Geckoella deccanensis, Gunther’s Cat Skink Ristella guntheri, Beddome’s Lacerta Ophisops beddomei and amphibians such as Rammanela sp., Bombay Bush Frog Philautus bombayensis, and Humayun’s Wrinkled Frog Nyctibatrachus humayuni (V. Giri pers. comm. 2003).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: Bauxite mining; Irrigation projects; Encroachment; Poaching; Grazing.

Bauxite mining is the major problem in this Sanctuary. The Indian Aluminium Co. Ltd. (INDAL) has done open cast mining, causing irreparable damage to the fragile ecosystem of the plateau. As these plateaux are rocky, tree growth is limited, so the government believes that they are of no importance. However, these grassy plateaux have their own biological and ecological values, being rich grazing grounds for herbivores and nesting ground for many species of birds. In February 1998, the Mumbai High Court recognizing the biological and watershed values of Radhanagari, passed a stay order against bauxite mining operations in Iderganj plateau by INDAL. This plateau is a watershed of two major reservoirs that were created when the Radhanagari and Kalammawadi dams were constructed. However, the Forest Department is under intense political pressure to allow mining. NGOs like Kalpavriksha, Paryavarni and the Environmental Department of Shivaji University are struggling to have the Sanctuary declared as an Ecologically Sensitive Area.

Key contributors: Girish Jathar, Varad Giri and Deepak Apte.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 10/06/2023.