Wildlife reserves spread over 10% of Goa. The plentiful bounty of nature in Goa is attributed to its location. Goa lies on a section of the Western Ghats known as Sahyadris locally. Of the 3702 kms stretch of the Western Ghats, 600 kms run through Goa and the tropical backdrop provided by the coastline is excellent for sustaining plant and animal life. The Ghats also provide a corridor for migratory birds. Though Goa is just 3702 square kilometers, there are over 1512 documented species of plants, over 275 genera of birds, over 48 genera of animals and over 60 genera of reptiles living within its confines.
Some of the better known parks and sanctuaries are:
Bhagwan Mahavir Bird Sanctuary and Mollem National Park lies at the eastern border to Karnataka. The Mollem National Park sits at the heart of the sanctuary and together they cover a lush green belt of evergreen forests and deciduous trees spanning 240 sq kms. Here you can spot deers, guars, malayan giant squirrels, cobras, pythons with ease, and sloth bear, flying lizard, leopard cat, elephants and tigers if you are lucky. The common birds found here are the great Indian black woodpecker, malabar pied hornbill and paradise flycatcher.
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary has been developed to serve as a family holiday getaway. So today, it has proper accommodation facilities. Bondla is small in size covering just 80 sq kms but it is an area of immense beauty with botanical and rose gardens. There is a mini zoo, and deer park and one can go for elephant rides here.
CotiGoa Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most untouched reserves covered with dense deciduous forest and trees shooting 30 mts high. Wild boars, langur, deer, bison, pangolin and black panther roam the 86.65 sq km woods. There is a lake called Bela Lake which serves as a waterhole for the animals.
Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is a tiny 1.78 sq km mangrove reserve that can only be reached in a boat. It is on the west end of Chorao Island. The sanctuary is home for birds that sit perched on the mangroves feeding on the planktons, shrimps, crabs and estuarine fish dwelling in the water. From November to February, migratory birds including pintail ducks, cormorants, storks, purplke moorhen and mallards come here to get respite from the cold.
The Mandovi Zuari Wildlife Sanctuary is also a mangrove of about 20 different types that support a large variety of fish and insects that in turn are a major source of food for the birds and smaller animals, snakes, and crocodiles.
Morjim, Galgibag and Agonda beaches are the nesting and breeding places for the giant endangered Olive Ridley Turtle. The conservation of this species is an initiative undertaken by the Forest department of Goa from 1996.