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Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary
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The Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary located in the Udipi district of Karnataka was established in 1974 and covers an area of 247 sq km. It lies between the longitudes 13o41'25.87"E to 13o58'51.85"E and latitudes 74o39'8.68"N to 74o56'8.84"N. The sanctuary receives an annual rainfall of 4,593 mm and the elevation here ranges from 9-1,315 m above sea level. Water sources include the Chakra nadi, Kollur river, 27 perennial streams, 36 large seasonal streams, several smaller streams, two seasonal natural lakes, one spring and 20 artificial water tanks.

The sanctuary is artificially demarcated into three zones -a core zone of 114 sq km, a buffer zone of 90 sq km and a tourism zone of 43 sq km. The vegetation type is a mix of evergreen, semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests. At low altitudes, tree species seen include Poeciloneuron indicum facies of the Dipterocarpus indicus-Diospyros candolleana-Diospyros oocarpa types (Pascal et al. 1982). In Mookambika, as in many other protected areas, a few teak and eucalyptus plantations are also present. Common species of trees of the moist deciduous forests found here are Bombax ceiba, Mangifera indica, Dalbergia latifolia and Dillenia pentagyna. Other species of trees include Dipterocarpus indicus, Poeciloneuron indicum, Calophyllum tomentosum, Hopea parviflora, Diospyros oocarpa and Machilus sp. (Lal et al. 1994). The tallest tree species that form the canopy of the semi-evergreen forests here are Terminalia paniculata, Artocarpus hirsuta, Hopea parviflora, Vitex altissima and Cinnamomum sp. (Lal et al. 1994).

Mammalian inhabitants found here are the lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus), bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata), common langur (Semnopithecus entellus), slender loris (Loris lyddekerianus), red giant flying squirrel (Petaurista petaurista) and Indian giant squirrel (Ratufa indica). Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and tigers (Panthera tigris) are not present in large numbers in this sanctuary. Other species of mammals include sloth bears (Melursus ursinus), Indian bison or gaur (Bos gaurus), wild pig (Sus scrofa), leopard (Panthera pardus), wild dog (Cuon alpinus), jackals (Canis aureus), spotted deer or chital (Axis axis), sambar (Cervus unicolor), barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), otters (Lutra sp.) and Indian porcupine (Hystrix indica) (Lal et al. 1994). This sanctuary has been identified as an ideal habitat for the lion-tailed macaque. However, a report from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India published in 2004 states that no efforts have been made to make this protected area a perfect breeding spot for this species.

The Malabar whistlingthrushes (Mylophonus horsefieldii), blacknaped monarch flycatchers (Hypothymis azurea), pheasant-tailed jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus), Tickell's blue flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae) and lesser golden-backed woodpecker (Dinopium benghalense) are some of the birds found in this sanctuary. Other birds like the Malabar grey hornbill (Ocyceros griseus), red turtle dove (Streptopelia tranquebarica), redwhiskered bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) and, paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradise) have also been sighted here. Among the hornbills, three species: Malabar pied hornbill (Anthracoceros coronatus), Indian grey hornbill (Ocyceros birostris) and great pied hornbill (Buceros bicornis) have also been spotted in this protected area (Lal et al. 1994).

Reptiles found here include the star tortoise (Geochelone elegans), common krait (Bungarus caeruleus), common vine snake (Ahaetella nasutus), Russell's viper (Daboia russellii), king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) and Indian rock python (Python molurus). Some of the amphibians recorded from here are the green frog (Rana hexadactyla), common tree frog (Racophorus maculatus), Malay bull frog (Kaloula pluchra) and the red narrowmouthed frog (Microhyla rubra) (Lal et al. 1994). Species of fish found in the rivers and streams of this sanctuary include Aarichtys avr, Channa eucopunctala, Channa gaucha, Clarias butrachus, Mystus kontius and Labeo boga (Lal et al. 1994).

Major threat to the biodiversity of this wildlife sanctuary comes from vehicular traffic. In addition grazing, poaching and quarrying are other serious threats to the biodiversity in this protected area (Lal et al. 1994). The teak and eucalyptus plantations scattered around the sanctuary have also resulted in fragmentation of the forests. There are 112 villages inside the sanctuary. The Mookambika temple located close to the sanctuary is an important pilgrimage centre and has rich cultural significance for the people of South India.


Kazmierczak, K. 2000. A field guide to the birds of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistn, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and the Maldives. OM Book Service, New Delhi, India. 352 pp.

Lal, R., Kothari, A., Pande, P and Singh, S (eds).1994. Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary. In: Directory of national parks and sanctuaries in Karnataka: Management status and profiles .Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi, India. pp 118-1126.

Menon, V. 2003. A field guide to Indian mammals. DK (India) Pvt Ltd and Penguin Book India (P) Ltd. 201 pp.

Pascal, J. P., Shyam Sundar, S and Meher-Homji, V. M. 1982. Forest map of South India: Shimoga. French Institute, Pondicherry, India.

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