Mahananda Wildlife sanctuary is nestled in Himalayan foothills between Teesta and Mahananda rivers. Situated in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, it was initially a game sanctuary in 1955. Subsequently, it was given the status of sanctuary in 1959 to protect Royal Bengal Tiger and Indian bison that were on the verge of extinction.
Spread over 159 sq Km, it has varying altitude ranging from 500 ft to 4300 ft. The sanctuary comprises several forest areas like Kalijhora, Latpanchor, Punding, Sukna, Gulma, Toribari, Sevoke, Seventh Mile and Latlon. The forest type in Mahananda varies from riverain forests like Khayer-Sisoo to dense mixed-wet forest. The sanctuary supports about 330 types of plantations including teak, udal, champ, lali, jarul, gamar, mandane, bamboos, ferns, orchids and sidha.
The lower plains of the forest witness the migration of elephants from Nepal, West Bangal and Assam during monsoon and winter months. The sanctuary shelters about 36 species of mammals including Himalayan black bear, leopards, rare mountain goats (serow), porcupines, golden cats, sambar, spotted & barking deer, Indian bison (gaur), wild boars, monkeys including black capped languor.The sanctuary is a paradise for bird watchers. A variety of them including Himalayan pied hornbills, peafowls, peacocks, fouls, egrets, kingfishers, fly catchers, racket tail drongo, Assamese macaque, robins, woodpeckers are found here.
When to go
The best time to visit the sanctuary is from November to April. Regular day safaris are offered both in morning and afternoon. However you have to arrange your own vehicle.
The sanctuary is known for several glades where artificial saltlicks are created .They fulfill the mineral requirements of animals.