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Chandaka Sanctuary

Chandaka Sanctuary
Nestled on Khurdha uplands of' North -Eastern Ghats' biotic region, Chandaka forest is a relic of wild land that once extended all over Bhubaneswar. Spread over 193.39 of rolling table land and small sprawling hillocks of Khurdha and Cuttack Districts, it is a wildlife sanctuary since August 1982. The sanctuary, literally abutting on the capital city of Odisha, is the pachyderm country. Originally established to provide inviolate refuge for elephants with a view to minimize their depredation, the sanctuary is now a treasure trove of biodiversity. It is now a popular destination for solitude seekers, hunt for eco-tourists, and laboratory for researchers and temple of learning for all.

Rigid protection and conservation management for two decades; sculpture in green was taking shape. Symphony of nature has manifested with the revival of forest ecosystem and habitat niche. Vegetation, which was rendered bushy due to over exploitation has gained height beyond recognition. Reappearance of Sal, Bamboo, Maha limba, Canes and a great array of plant life including medicinal plants bear testimony to the recuperating energy of nature. This small but beautiful sanctuary has forest types well distributed in a mosaic of habitat sheltering variety of tropical Indian jungle fauna. The return of the leopard in 1991, which seemed extinct for long, further reaffirms the revival of bio-diversity. The home of the elephant, the lord of the jungle and that of lesser wild animals has thus been saved.

Floral diversity is distributed in 6 types, viz., secondary moist miscellaneous semi- evergreen forests, moist Kangada (Xylia xylocarpa) forests, Coastal Sal forests, thorny bamboo brakes (Bambusa bamboos), planted Teak and Eupatorium scrub. Main tree species are Kochila, Kalicha, Bela, Kangada, Giringa, Sunari, Sal, Kumbhi, Jamu, Karanja, Teak and Sidha. Male bamboo (Dendrocalamus strictus) has a very restricted distribution. Common medicinal plants of the sanctuary are Duramari, Baidanka, Brudhadaraka, Bhuinlimba, Guluchi lata, Salparni, Satabari, Bhuin-kakharu, Indrajaba, Thalkudi, Apamaranga, Kurchi, and Patalgaruda etc. A few species of ground Orchids, Ferns, Club mosses, Bryophytes and Lichens are distributed in shady wet pockets and rock escarpments.

Elephant is the flagship species and indicative of the potential productivity of the habitat. Leopard is in the apex of biological pyramid. Chital, Barking deer, Mouse deer, Wild pig, Common langur, Rhesus monkey, small Indian civet, Common Indian mongoose, Small Indian mongoose, Ruddy mongoose, Pangolin, Sloth bear, Ratel, Indian wolf and Hyena are other mammals of the area. Wild dogs are occasionally seen. Prominent birds of the sanctuary are Peafowl, Red jungle fowl, Crested serpent eagle, Great horned owl, Black headed oriole, Paradise fly catcher, Coucal and stone curlew. Among reptiles, Rock python and Bengal Monitor lizard are quite common. Chameleon, Common skink, Indian flap shell turtle, Russel's viper, Bamboo pit viper, Common krait, Common vine snake, Kukri snake, Indian bronze back are indicative reptiles. Mugger crocodiles have remarkably adapted to large water bodies after their release.

Chital or spotted deer, the most beautiful of all deer is commonly encountered in groups of 3-7 on forest roads, forest openings, grass lands, foreshore of water bodies and even near guard camps. Godibari, Kochilaberana, Ambokhali, Baunsha-berana, Mahuriabadi, Kumarkhunti, Jhalara, Ambilo and Saurabiula are places of good sighting success.

The 'Gayal' or Indian Bison has been lost since long. Kheluachua, the mud wallow of playful Sambars exists but not the animals. The last tigress of the forest 'Kanan' embraced captivity in search of a mate at Nandankanan in 1968. This is history. The presence of Leopard - the prince of cats, which has staged a come back and filled the vacant niche left by tiger, can be known from pug-marks. Look for it on the edge of water or on pug impression-pads (P.I.P) across roads. Expect the leopard at Kheluachua, Gadanbhanga, Ambilo, Chhatiani and Bualigarh. You may find one if lucky.

Elephants are always on the move feeding. Look for their feeding signs i.e., leftovers of twigs, pulled bamboo culms, uprooted saplings, debarked trees. Food plants of elephants include Bamboo, Moi, Ghonto, Dhobani, Siris, Mahul, Dhaman, Beta and Lajkuli (leaves and growing shoots), Kapasia, Panikodal, Kumbhi, Dhaman, Ghodalanjia(Bark), Kanchan, Gohira, Amba and Bela (fruits). Fresh foot-prints and dung bolus also indicate their presence. Expect them at water-holes in hot summer after noon and evenings. You may be lucky to see a tusker or even a family unit.

The Plumaged wonders - The avian life of the sanctuary is no less significant. Kumarkhunti reservoir, in winter, serve as transient roosting and feeding ground for several migratory duck species, notably, Garganey and common Teal, Pintail, spot billed and brahmny Duck and white eyed Pochard. Lesser whistling Teal, Dabchick, Cotton Teal, Nakta, lesser Cormorant, bronze winged Jacana, white breasted Waterhen, pied, white breasted and little blue King fishers and red wattled Lapwings are other resident birds around.

Come July, and the surrounding bamboo brakes of the reservoir transform in to a heronry of water birds, mainly, open billed Storks, pond Heron, Egrets and Cormorants.

A plethora of insects are also found here. Most of them are abundant during monsoon and post monsoon months within a height of 3 meters from ground. Look for them in forest openings, road sides, flowers, grasses, edges of water, wet mud, bird and animal droppings or food plants either feeding or basking. Common ones here are common Mormon, blue Mormon, common Emigrant, common Leopard, common Hedge Blue, Indian Crow, double banded Crow, common Sailer, common Bush brown, grey Pansy and peacock Pansy.

Watch Towers
Viewing animals unnoticed
While Kochilaberana, Pitagadia and Charichhak watch towers are excellent for observation of birds and animals, the ones at Kumarkhunti and Amblio have the comfort of rest houses where one can make a night halt and have a date with wild animals and birds without disturbing them.

Forest Denizens
The Kabaries
The Kabaries, claiming ancestry with Jarasabar , the first worshiper of 'Lord Jagannath' in shape of Brahma (Wooden idol) are unskilled tribals. There are 455 families resident in the enclosed Gadjat village. There are many Kabari villages in the periphery of the sanctuary. They practice subsistent and marginal agriculture. Many of them earn a livelihood by collection and sale of firewood, bamboos and charcoal. Good many of them are excellent animal trackers and herbal healers.

All for One —One for All
Bewildering variety of plants and animals exist in a state of harmony with intricate system of energy flow and dependencies - some known but lot unknown. We being part of nature and not apart from it, our very existence is dependent on unhindered functioning of the system. Diversity is the key stone of stability in the ecosystem and a measure of conservation success. Look for the connection between two life forms.

Location : Lat 200 -12' to 200 - 26' N, Long 850 -34' to 850-49'E.
Area : 193.39
Forest cover percentage : Dense - 16.34%, Open - 17.84%, Secondary - 56.72%, Scrub – 8.5%
Entry Points:--Godibari, Deras, Minchinpatna
Best time to visit Chandaka Sanctuary-
The best time to visit this verdant sanctuary is October to May.