(Last Updated on : 24/11/2014)
The Cotigao wildlife sanctuary is located in the Canacona district in south Goa
. This sanctuary was established in the year 1969 and is situated at a distance of 60 kilometres from Panaji
towards the south. The wildlife sanctuary was established to protect the vulnerable flora and fauna of that area. The sanctuary covers an area of 86 square kilometres and is the second largest sanctuary in Goa. Both the Gal and Talpona rivers of Canacona Tlauka originate from the sanctuary and flows all the way through this preserve. The park has a 25-meter high treetop watchtower for watching wild animals. These animals often come to the river to quench their thirst and can be viewed around evening or early morning. The sanctuary also houses a Nature Interpretation Center that provides fascinating and valuable information about the wildlife here.
The Cotigao sanctuary of Goa has a thick cover of vegetation. There are basically three types of vegetation that is found over here that includes Moist Deciduous Forests - the prevalent forest type, Semi-Evergreen Forests and Evergreen Forests. The lush and thick vegetation growth provides natural shelter to a plethora of animal and bird species. These species include sloth bears, deer, wild boars, panthers, laughing hyenas and Indian Bisons. There also a number of bird species here, the most popular ones to be spotted are Rufus Woodpecker, white-eyed eagle, Malabar crested eagle, White bellied woodpecker, etc. Apart from these animals and birds, there are also a vast number of reptiles that include poisonous and non-poisonous snakes.
The Cotigao sanctuary has eight well laid out nature trails covering it. These nature trails vary from a range of 500 metres to 5 kilometres. There are six watchtowers in the sanctuary. An ecotourism complex at the entrance of the sanctuary welcomes the visitors. The complex houses the nature interpretation centre, cottages, toilets, library, reception area and rescue centre, canteen and Range Forest Office. The sanctuary has been proclaimed as a plastic-free zone by the State Government. The Cotigao sanctuary is surrounded by the tribal (Velip) settlements. There is also a rubber plantation within the sanctuary boundary limits where the processing of rubber is demonstrated.
In addition to the Velip tribal communities, the ancient Jeevottam Partagal Math, known for their Vedic studies, make their home in the forests like the Kunbi. Consequently the Cotigao sanctuary is perfect for the nature lover who wants to get down to the basics of naturalism by camping out with the wildlife and in amongst the vegetation.