IN187
Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary


Year of compilation: 2004

Site description
At one time, with an area of 5,72,900 ha, Dandeli was one of the largest sanctuaries in Asia. However, in 1987, it was reduced to 83,400 ha. The area was drastically reduced, ostensibly to make it ‘more manageable’, but actually to allocate areas for industrial, mining, and other purposes. At the same time, an area of 25,000 ha in the southern part of the Sanctuary was constituted as the Anshi National Park (an IBA). But the forests of Bhimgad, another IBA, (which were part of the original Sanctuary) have not been notified till now despite the recommendation of the Karnataka Forest Department to re-notify about 55,000 ha as Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary. Forestry operations are still being carried out in the Sanctuary. Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary (an IBA) in Goa adjoins the Sanctuary on its western border. Many rivers pass through these forests, the most important being the Kali. The Sanctuary has a great diversity in habitats, due to which it has a rich assortment of wildlife, especially avifauna. The IBA has forests ranging from Moist Deciduous to Semievergreen, spread over undulating terrain. Teak plantations of various age-class exist in the Sanctuary. The area is also rich in bamboo, and herbs and climbers of medicinal value.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: This Sanctuary harbours more than 285 species of birds (Girish Jathar 1998). David Stanton (in litt. 2003) has recently listed 185 species, including several Restricted Range and Near Threatened ones. Based on three visits to a small portion of this sprawling Sanctuary, Karthikeyan et al. (1993) have listed 155 species. Dandeli is the catchment of the Kali river basin. The river starts above Dudsagar waterfalls in Goa and flows east for about 40 km and then west, it joins the Arabian Sea in Karwar. For a greater part, the river flows through the evergreen forest where Malabar Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros coronatus, Greater Grey-headed Fisheagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus and Darter Anhinga melanogaster, all Near Threatened species could be seen (David Stanton in litt. 2003). The river is dammed in many places for hydroelectric purpose. This has created reservoirs that attract hundreds of River Tern Sterna acuticauda, Little, Indian and Great cormorants (Phalacrocorax spp.), Black-headed or White Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus and Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus, the later two being Near Threatened species. Despite reduction in the size, and many development activities, some parts of Dandeli still retain good primary evergreen and semievergreen forest where three species of hornbills Malabar Pied, Malabar Grey Ocyceros griseus and Large Pied Buceros bicornis are not uncommon to find. It is not unusual to see up to 30 Malabar Pied Hornbills flying to their roost in the evening (David Stanton in litt. 2003). The Mountain Imperial Pigeon Dacula badia, and Pompadour Green Pigeon Treron pompadora are not uncommon in undisturbed thick forests. Recently Rasmussen and Anderton (in press) have upgraded the Western Ghats subspecies of Pampadour Green Pigeon (Treron pompadora affinis) in a full species and named it T. affinis. It has to be now considered as restricted range or endemic to the Western Ghats complex and Sri Lanka. The forest habitat of Dandeli is ideal for species of Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forest). BirdLife International (undated) has listed 15 species in the Western Ghats and isolated areas of moist forests in the Eastern Ghats and elsewhere in peninsular India. Eight out of 15 species have been reported till now (Girish Jathar pers. comm. 2003) but more are likely to be found if detailed studies are conducted. Although, Dandeli lies in Biome-10, 20 species of Biome-11 (Indo- Malayan Tropical Dry Zone) are seen, most of them quite common and widespread and hence, not of much conservation concern. Many species listed in Biome-11 have adapted to man-modified habitats, and some species have changed their distribution so much that they occur in other biomes also. This site has been selected as an IBA based on the threatened, restricted range and biome-restricted species found here, perhaps some in significant numbers.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Large mammals found in the Sanctuary are Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard Panthera pardus, Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus, Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Gaur Bos frontalis, and Wild Boar Sus scrofa. Other mammals include Wild Dogs Cuon alpinus, Indian Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica maxima, Common Giant Flying Squirrel Petaurista petaurista, Bonnet Macaque Macaca radiata, Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus, Slender Loris Loris tardigradus, Mongoose Herpestes edwardsi, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Chital Axis axis, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Mouse Deer Moschiola meminna. Wroughton’s Free-tailed Bat Otomops wroughtoni was found in June 2002 by Anand Pendharkar (in press), in the Kawala Caves, with a minimum estimate of 500 individuals.

The Sanctuary also harbours various reptiles, including Gliding Lizard Draco dussumieri, Gliding Snake Chrysopelea ornata, King Cobra Ophiophagus hannah and Marsh Crocodile Crocodylus palustris.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: The Kalyani Coke and Cogeneration Plant; The Mhadei Diversion Project, Khanapur taluka, Belgaum district; Manganese mining; Eco-tourism; Poaching; Dandeli Paper mill (West Coast Paper Industries).

There are some serious environmental issues which threaten the Sanctuary. The Kaiga-Narendra power line (440 kv) is proposed to pass through the Bedti and Kali valleys and affects the Dandeli WLS. Under this project about 0.15 million trees over 520 acres will be cut down, which will cause long-term deleterious effects on flora and fauna of the area. The Kalyani Coke and Cogeneration project (300 MW) in Khanapur district is seriously threatening the forests of Dandeli WLS. Eight hundred acres of land is to be acquired at Ramnagar, in the midst of the Dandeli-Supa Dam-Londe- Nagargali- Khanapur and Castle Rock Reserved forests. The Mhadei river diversion project is another burning issue, as it is expected that 5,000 acres of prime, evergreen forest will be submerged under this scheme. Mining of manganese ore is a serious problem to the Sanctuary. The mining lobby is pressurizing the Forest Department to denotify some pristine areas of the Sanctuary.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 17/07/2019.