Saturday, September 23, 2023

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary UPSC

The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area located in the Indian state of West Bengal.The sanctuary is known for its rich biodiversity and serves as an important conservation area in the region.

The sanctuary encompasses a wide range of altitudes, with elevations varying from around 600 meters (1,970 feet) to over 3,400 meters (11,155 feet) above sea level. This variation in altitude results in diverse habitats, including tropical forests, subtropical forests, and alpine meadows.

Visitors to the sanctuary can enjoy activities such as trekking, nature walks, and bird watching. There are several trekking routes of varying difficulty levels that provide opportunities to explore the sanctuary's natural beauty.

The best time to visit the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is during the months of October to March when the weather is pleasant and wildlife sightings are more common. The monsoon season, from June to September, should be avoided due to heavy rainfall and the potential for landslides.

Table of Contents

  • Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary Location
  • Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary History
  • Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary Area
  • Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary River
  • Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary Lake
  • Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary Flora
  • Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary Fauna
    • Mammals
    • Birds
    • Reptile
  • Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary UPSC Questions

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary Location

The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India. It is situated on the foothills of the Himalayas, between the Teesta and Mahananda rivers. 

The sanctuary is easily accessible from the city of Siliguri, which is a major transportation hub in the region. Sukna, a small village near Siliguri, serves as the main entry point to the sanctuary and is approximately 13 kilometers (about 8 miles) from Siliguri. 

National Highway 31 passes through the southern part of the sanctuary, providing convenient access to the area.

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary Nearest Airport:

The nearest airport to the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is Bagdogra Airport, which is located near the town of Siliguri in West Bengal. Bagdogra Airport is the most convenient option for travelers coming to visit the sanctuary by air. It is well-connected to major cities in India and serves as the primary airport for the region.

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary Nearest Railway Station:

The nearest railway station to the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is the Jalpaiguri Railway Station, which is also known as New Jalpaiguri Railway Station. NJP is a major railway station in the area and serves as a gateway to many destinations in the Darjeeling and Sikkim regions. From Jalpaiguri Railway Station, you can easily reach Siliguri, which is a starting point for accessing the sanctuary.

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary History

The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary has a history that spans several decades. Here's a brief overview of its history:

Establishment as a Game Sanctuary: The sanctuary's history dates back to 1955 when it was initially established as a game sanctuary. At this time, the primary focus was on conserving and protecting certain species of wildlife, including the Indian bison (gaur) and the Royal Bengal tiger, which were facing threats of extinction.

Upgrade to Wildlife Sanctuary: In 1959, the area was officially upgraded to a wildlife sanctuary, gaining a higher level of protection and recognition. This upgrade reflected the growing awareness of the need to safeguard the region's biodiversity.

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary Notification: The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary was officially notified as a wildlife sanctuary on June 24, 1976. This notification marked its designation as a protected area and the beginning of its formal status as a wildlife sanctuary, aimed at conserving the diverse flora and fauna found within its boundaries.

Transfer of Control: It's worth noting that until 1988, the sanctuary was under the control of the Kurseong Forest Division. However, in 1988, administrative control was transferred to the Wild Life Division, further emphasizing its importance for wildlife conservation.

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary Area

The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of approximately 159 square kilometers (61 square miles). This protected area encompasses a diverse range of habitats, including tropical and subtropical forests, as well as riverine areas and higher-altitude regions, making it a significant site for biodiversity conservation in the region.

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary River

The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is named after two significant rivers in the region, the Mahananda River and the Teesta River. These rivers are an integral part of the sanctuary's ecosystem and play a crucial role in shaping its geography and supporting its wildlife.

(1) Mahananda River:

The sanctuary is named after the Mahananda River, which flows through the region. The Mahananda River is a significant watercourse in the area, and it has a substantial influence on the sanctuary's ecology. 

The river provides a source of water for various wildlife species and contributes to the overall biodiversity of the region. The riverine areas along the Mahananda River are often characterized by specific types of vegetation and wildlife adapted to these habitats.

(2) Teesta River:

While the sanctuary's name primarily references the Mahananda River, the Teesta River is another vital river that flows near the sanctuary's boundaries. The Teesta River is one of the major rivers in the Indian state of West Bengal and the neighboring state of Sikkim. Its proximity to the sanctuary's southern part likely influences the wildlife and vegetation in that area.

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary Lake

There is a large water body within the buffer zone of the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, which is formed by the construction of a barrage on the Teesta River. 

It  is situated in the southern part of the sanctuary's buffer zone. This water body is significant for the region's water management and agriculture, as it helps regulate the flow of the Teesta River and provides irrigation water for nearby agricultural fields. 

The presence of the Reservoir adds to the ecological diversity of the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and the broader landscape in the region. 

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary Flora

The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary boasts a diverse range of flora due to its varying altitudes and ecosystems. The sanctuary encompasses tropical and subtropical forests, riverine areas, and higher-altitude regions, each of which supports a unique mix of plant species. 

Here are some of the key flora found in the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary:

Kapasi (Schima wallichii): Kapasi is a tall evergreen tree found in the sanctuary. It belongs to the tea family (Theaceae) and is known for its valuable timber.

Katus (Castanopsis indica): Katus is an evergreen tree that belongs to the chestnut family (Fagaceae). It is native to the region and is known for its timber and edible chestnuts.

Kawla (Alnus nepalensis): Kawla, also known as the Nepal Alder, is a deciduous tree commonly found in the sanctuary. It is often found in moist, riparian habitats.

Champ (Prunus nepaulensis): Champ, or the Nepal wild cherry, is a deciduous tree with attractive blossoms. It is native to the Himalayan region.

Matting Bamboo: Bamboo species are common in the sanctuary, with matting bamboo being one of them. Bamboo plays a significant role in the ecosystem, providing food and shelter for various wildlife species.

Meliosma wallichii: This tree species is native to the eastern Himalayan region and is known for its large leaves and ornamental value.

Machilus edulis: Machilus edulis is an evergreen tree that is part of the laurel family (Lauraceae). It is found in forested areas and provides valuable timber.

Pipli (Piper species - Pipli Spp.): The genus Piper includes various species of plants, many of which are used for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Hemlock (Tsuga brunoniana): Hemlock is a coniferous tree found in scattered plantations within the sanctuary. It is valued for its timber.

Dhupi (Species of the Diospyros genus - Dhupi Spp.): Dhupi trees are part of the Diospyros genus, which includes a variety of species. Some Diospyros species are known for their edible fruits.

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary Fauna (Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary Animals)

Which animals are found in Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary?

The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is known for its diverse fauna, which includes a wide range of mammals, birds, reptiles, and other wildlife species. Here is a list of some of the notable fauna found in the sanctuary:


  • Bengal Tiger
  • Asian Elephant
  • Himalayan Black Bear
  • Clouded Leopard
  • Indian Gaur
  • Himalayan Black Bear
  • Spotted Deer (Chital)
  • Barking Deer (Muntjac)
  • Sambar
  • Himalayan Palm Civet
  • Serow
  • Porcupine


Birds of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Himalayan Pied Hornbill
  • Rusty-bellied Shortwing
  • Black-breasted Parrotbill
  • Rufous-necked Hornbill
  • Himalayan Griffon
  • Ibisbill
  • Sunbirds
  • Pheasants
  • Parakeets
  • Flycatchers
  • Woodpeckers
  • Thrushes
  • Warblers
  • Raptors


  • King Cobra
  • Russell's Viper
  • Monitor Lizards

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary UPSC Questions

Q. Where is Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary located?/In which state Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is situated?

A. The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Indian state of West Bengal, specifically in the Darjeeling district. It is situated on the foothills of the Himalayas, between the Teesta and Mahananda rivers. 

Q. When was Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary established?

A. The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary was officially established as a protected area in 1959. It was initially designated as a game sanctuary in 1955 and later upgraded to the status of a wildlife sanctuary in 1959. This change in status was aimed at providing greater protection to the diverse flora and fauna found within the sanctuary's boundaries and promoting conservation efforts in the region.

Q. What is the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary famous for?

A. The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal, India, is famous for several reasons:

(i) Rich Biodiversity: The sanctuary is renowned for its diverse and rich biodiversity, which includes a wide range of flora and fauna. It is home to various species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and butterflies.

(ii) Tiger Conservation: One of its notable attractions is the conservation of Bengal tigers. The sanctuary plays a vital role in the conservation of these endangered big cats, and visitors may have the opportunity to spot them.

(iii) Elephant Habitat: The sanctuary also provides habitat for Asian elephants, another charismatic and endangered species.

(iv) Birdwatching: Mahananda is a paradise for birdwatchers. Its location at the crossroads of different biomes makes it an excellent place to observe a variety of bird species, including both resident and migratory birds.

(v) Himalayan Views: The sanctuary's location in the Himalayan foothills provides breathtaking views of the mountains and the surrounding landscapes.

Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary

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