Melkote Temple Wildlife Sanctuary

Year of compilation: 2004

Site description (baseline)
Situated north of Mysore, this Sanctuary was declared to protect the Grey Wolf Canis lupus pallipes. It has been named after the Melkote Yoganarasimhaswami Temple, a famous pilgrimage centre nearby. The Sanctuary is located in Mandya district and can be approached by rail or road from Bangalore to Mandya (100 km), then by road to the Sanctuary (35 km). The Sanctuary is divided into two blocks, Mudibetta (448 ha) and Narayanadurga (4,534 ha). Between the two blocks, a number of villages and cultivated land are present. The landscape is rocky, with dry deciduous and scrub vegetation (Manjrekar 2000). Cycas circinalis, an endangered gymnosperm, is characteristic of this area (Manjrekar 2000). A few patches of Shorea talura exist. Other species include Acacia leucophloea, Anogeissus latifolia, Ailanthus triphysa, Albizzia sp., Azadirachta indica, Dalbergia sp., Santalum album and Zizyphus sp. (Manjrekar 2000). The forest is the catchment area of the Thonnur lake, one of the largest and deepest perennial irrigation tanks in the area (T. Shivanand in litt. 2003).

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Thejaswi Shivanand (in litt. 2003) who visited Narayanadurga Hill which forms the northern boundary of the Melkote Temple WLS, many times for birdwarching, noted 173 species till September 2002. The bird life of Narayanadurga is generally characteristic of a dry scrub forest, with the main attraction being the Yellowthroated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus. Shivanand counted between 28 to 35 individuals in this IBA. They are generally seen in threes or fours, but flocks up to 30 are also seen in this IBA (T. Shivanand in litt. 2003). This site is mainly selected on the basis of presence of a good population of Vulnerable Yellow-throated Bulbul.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Besides the Grey Wolf, carnivores include of Leopard Panthera pardus, Jungle Cat Felis chaus and Red Fox Vulpes vulpes.

Chital Axis axis and Wild Boar Sus scrofa are their main natural prey.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: Over-grazing; Illegal mining; Encroachment.

Grazing of livestock leading to soil erosion, is the major problem. There is no village inside the Sanctuary, but the surrounding area is heavily populated by humans and livestock. Wolf, Hyena Hyaena hyaena and Leopard attack the livestock, resulting in much resentment among farmers. There is practically no management of the Sanctuary which has only two forest guards looking after 50 sq. km of highly disturbed area. The Blackbuck Antilope cervicapra, the main natural prey of the Wolf Canis lupus has disappeared. Encroachment by marginal and large farmers is rampant. Scrub forest, on which the Yellow-throated Bulbul depends, has been thinned down at several places. Illegal quarrying occurs in the Sanctuary. Despite the fact that the forest is the catchment area for Thonnur irrigation tank, there does not appear to be any concern among the authorities or local communities to protect the forest.

Key contributor: Thejaswi Shivanand.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Melkote Temple Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 29/05/2023.