Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary and area

Country/territory: India

IBA criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 158,000 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2003 not assessed high not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2004 baseline)
This IBA site was named after the river Mhadei (Mandovi) which is considered as the lifeline of Goa. The entire site occupies 43% of the geographical area of Goa State. Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary with an area of 20,800 ha is the part of Mhadei river basin. It is considered ecologically rich and pristine. The Mhadei is an interstate river, with its catchment area spread over Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The IBA is within the Western Ghats. The forest types range from Moist Deciduous, Semi-evergreen and Secondary Scrub. An annual rainfall of 3,000 mm spread roughly over five months, and high relative humidity between 70% to 80%, make ideal conditions for plant growth and diversity. Thus, thick forests, humid climate and moist soil have contributed to the species richness in this region. This IBA site is of great cultural significance as most of the sacred groves of Goa are located in this region. The sacred grove Nirankarachi is dominated by a unique plant species Myristica malabarica, which is endangered and endemic to the site.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: The Mhadei Valley has a large number of endemic and biome restricted species. More than 150 species of birds are known to occur in the site. This site is an important part of the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area and, of the 16 endemic bird species of this EBA (Stattersfield et al. 1998), seven have been recorded from Mhadei Valley. The Ruby-throated Yellow Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus gularis, a subspecies of the Black-headed Yellow Bulbul is restricted to the Western Ghats complex and its geographical range starts from Goa southwards, i.e. from the forests of Mhadei. This bird has the distinction of being the State Bird of Goa. BirdLife International (undated) has listed 15 species in Biome-10, of which 12 are reported from Mahadei.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The conditions of this site are especially suited for reptilian fauna. More than 45 species of snakes are known to occur in the region. Of the 14 Pit Vipers found in India, 8 are reported to occur in this region including the Green Pit Viper Trimeresurus gramineus, and Humpnosed Pit Viper Hypnale hypnale. Apart from snakes, the thick forests of Mhadei provide ideal habitat for agamids, skinks and geckos.

The highly endemic Wroughton’s Freetailed Bat Otomops wroughtoni is found in one of the Barapeda caves near Talewadi of Khanapur on the Goa-Karnataka border. Krishnapur caves are one of the three habitats worldwide of another rare bat Taphozous theobaldi. Another species of bat, Megaderma spasma, that inhabits the Talewadi caves, is localized in the Indian subcontinent (Bates and Harrison 1997).

There are confirmed reports of the presence and movement of tigers (Panthera tigris) in the area, which is contiguous to Mollem, Dandeli, Mhadei and Netravati wildlife sanctuaries.

Similarly among invertebrates, endemism is high, and hundreds of species are found. Butterflies range from the Malabar Tree Nymph Idea malabarica, and Southern Birdwing Troides minos, India’s largest butterfly, to the Grass Jewel Zizeeria trochilus, India’s smallest. The Atlas Moth Altacus atlas, is also recorded here.

Key contributor: Harvey D’Souza.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary and area. Downloaded from on 26/09/2023.