Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary
The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is located at a distance of 131 kms from The Riverwood Forest Retreat-Dooars. It spreads across 158 sq. km of forest area and is situated at the foothills of the Himalayas, flanked by the rivers Teesta and Mahananda. The wildlife sanctuary was formally established in 1976 and is managed by the Darjeeling Wildlife Division of Government of West Bengal. This land was initially started as a game sanctuary for children but soon received the status of a sanctuary with the aim to protect the diminishing number of Indian Bison (Gaur), and the Royal Bengal Tiger.
330 types of plantations have been recorded in this forest – Teak, Lali, Jarul, Udal, Gamar, Mandane, Champ, Bamboos, Sidha, ferns and orchids to name a few. Some areas of this vast space also include large grassy regions.
Besides the Royal Bengal Tiger and Gaur, the wildlife sanctuary is home to other animals like Elephants, Porcupines, Golden Cats, Himalayan black bears, Leopards, rare Mountain Goats (Serow), Sambar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Wild Boars, Rhesus Macaque, Black-capped Langurs, etc.
Elephants are known to migrate between Nepal, Assam and West Bengal. The winter and monsoon months have recorded close to 150 elephants in the forest.
The wildlife sanctuary is a haven for bird watchers. Peafowls, Peacocks, Egrets, Kingfishers, Fly Catchers, Racket-tail Drongo, Assamese Macaque, Robins, Woodpeckers, Swallows Babblers, Warblers, Minivets, etc. can be found here. The sanctuary also houses some endangered birds like Rufous-necked Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill and Great Hornbill among others.
Best time to visit
The sanctuary remains closed during the monsoon season (mid-June to mid-September). The ideal time to visit is from October-April.