Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary was set up in 1967 and is located in Sanguem taluk in north Goa. The sanctuary covers an area of 133 sq km and lies between longitudes 74°09'39.49 E to 74°16'.37.38 E and latitudes 15°14'23.24 N to 15°29'26.34 N. The maximum elevation in the sanctuary is 890 m and it receives an annual rainfall of over 3,080 mm. In 1992, 107 sq km of the sanctuary was notified as a national park which lies between the longitude 15°15'29.74"E to 15°25'4.55"E and latitudes 74°13'45.48"N to 74°20'8.09"N.
Vegetation in the sanctuary consists of west coast tropical evergreen forests, west coast semi-evergreen forests and moist deciduous forests. The forest types include low elevation, secondary evergreen forests with Persea macrantha-Diospyrus spp.-Holigarna spp. type, low elevation semi-evergreen, secondary moist deciduous forest with Xylia xylocarpa, teak and cashew plantations. Other important tree species seen in the forests of this sanctuary are Terminalia, Lagerstromia and Dalbergia spp. (D'Souza and Lainer 2004).
Mammalian inhabitants found here are the leopard (Panthera pardus), chital or spotted deer (Axis axis), mouse deer (Muntiacus munjtak), barking deer (Moschiola memmina), sambar (Cervus unicolor) and Indian bison or gaur (Bos gaurus). Other wild mammals spotted here include bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata), common langur (Semnopithecus entellus), small Indian civet (Viverricula indica), wild pig (Sus scrofa), Indian porcupine (Hystrix indica), Indian giant squirrel (Ratufa indica), pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) and slender loris (Loris lyddekerianus) (D'Souza and Lainer 2004).
Recognised as an Important Bird Area nearly 200 species of birds are found in the sanctuary including the 'Vulnerable' lesser adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus) and Nilgiri wood-pigeon (Columba elphinstonii), and endemics like the blue-winged parakeet (Psittacula columboides), Malabar grey hornbill (Ocyceros griseus), grey-headed bulbul (Pycnonotus priocephalus), small sunbird (Nectarinia minima) and white-bellied treepie (Dendrocitta leucogastra). Other interesting species like the Indian black woodpecker (Dryocopus javensis), Loten's sunbird (Nectarinia lotenia), crimson-throated barbet (Megalaima rubricapilla) and white-cheeked barbet (Megalaima viridis) are also seen here (D'Souza and Lainer 2004).
Major threats to this sanctuary are tourism, disturbances from road and rail traffic and dumping of toxic wastes. The National Highway 4A divides the sanctuary into two parts and the Mormugao-Londa railway line running through the sanctuary pose serious threats to the fauna and flora of the sanctuary (D'Souza and Lainer 2004). The Dudhsagar falls located in a corner of the sanctuary, 'Devil Canyon', a geological spot, and the nearby Tambdi Surla temple are major tourist attractions. Since 2001, the Goa government has made a lot of effort to promote eco-tourism at Dudhsagar waterfalls and in the Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary (PA Update 2001). In 2002, the Goa government had banned the sale and use of plastics in sanctuaries and beaches. Despite such measures, insufficient awareness among tourists about conservation considerations remains a serious threat to the biodiversity of the sanctuary. Another serious threat to this protected area is the deposit of toxic wastes. In 2006, nearly 13 truckloads of sponge iron by-products had been dumped in the Mollem Wildlife Sanctuary and at Anmod Ghat (PA Update 2006).
D'Souza, H and Lainer, H. 2004. Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary. In: Important Bird Areas in India: Priority sites for conservation. (Islam, M. Z and Rahmani, A. R). Indian Bird Conservation Network: Bombay Natural History Society and Birdlife International, UK. pp 364-365.
Menon, V. 2003. A field guide to Indian mammals. DK (India) Pvt Ltd and Penguin Book India (P) Ltd. 201 pp.
PA Update. 2001. Tourism promotion in PAs of Goa. August (32).
PA Update. 2002. Goa bans plastics on beaches and in sanctuaries. October (39).
PA Update. 2003. Bondla-Tambdi Surla-Satpal - Mollem tourism circuit. April (41&42)
PA Update. 2006. Iron ore sludge dumped in PAs in Goa. June (61): 6.