Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

The Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected forest reserve nestled in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. Encompassing nearly 475 square kilometers of verdant wilderness, it offers a safe refuge and natural habitat for a diverse range of flora and fauna. From majestic tigers to exotic birds, the sanctuary nurtures a thriving ecosystem amidst its evergreen woods.


The Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is located on the banks of the Kali River in the Uttara Kannada district of North West Karnataka. Its geographical coordinates span 15°0’ to 15°15’N latitude and 74°15’ to 74°34’E longitude. The sanctuary is bounded by lush forests of the Anshi National Park on one side and breathtaking valleys of the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve on the other. The terrain is marked by undulating hills, deep ravines, rapids, and plateau areas. The altitude in the reserve ranges from 492 to 1,927 feet above sea level.

The Kali river serves as a natural eastern boundary of the sanctuary. Other perennial streams like the Nagjzari and Devbagh feed the forests here. The resulting water bodies and moist deciduous cover create ideal ecological conditions. The sanctuary enjoys a tropical climate and records average annual rainfall of nearly 4,000 mm. The rich biodiversity here is aided by the variation in topology and microclimates across the reserve.


The Dandeli forests have been historically viewed as a fine game area. The majestic tigers and elephants that roamed here fascinated British officers and royalty who enjoyed game hunting. Designated reserve forests came into existence in the area from as early as 1840. These were further expanded in the early 1900s.

By the 1930s, unrestricted hunting and timber felling began to threaten the native wildlife. Thus conservation efforts were bolstered and the area was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1956 under the Wildlife Protection Act. In 1974, it became a part of Project Tiger – safeguarding this rich haven for the Indian tiger. Further administrative restructuring took place in the following decades as awareness of forest preservation increased globally.

Today the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary stands testament to nearly 80 years of active wildlife conservation efforts in the face of rampant deforestation across India. The sanctuary provides a safe breeding ground for endangered, vulnerable and endemic species of the Western Ghats; while sustaining the livelihoods of local communities through supervised ecotourism initiatives.

Biodiversity of Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

Nestled in the laps of the Western Ghats, the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is home to an astounding diversity of flora and fauna. Ranging from tall canopy trees to tiny insects on the forest floor, it shelters a thriving ecosystem within its borders.


Evergreen and moist deciduous forests

The sanctuary is covered primarily by moist deciduous forests with plenty of evergreen stretches. Species like teak, rosewood, mathi, honne and nandi are found here. The shade and moisture sustains dense groves of bamboo below. During the hot months when deciduous trees shed leaves, the evergreens maintain continuity in foliar cover.

Bamboo thickets

Areas around Anshi and along the Kali river harbor sprawling bamboo thickets. This fast growing grass plays a vital ecological role. Young shoots feed endangered herbivores. Dense clumps provide shelter for birds and mammals while also preventing soil erosion. Their high oxygen release purifies sanctuary air.

Medicinal plants

Dandeli forests house over 400 vital medicinal herbs. The Ayurvedic plants here comprise anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant properties. Important among these are the ‘Sanjeevani’ miracle herb, Vasaka leaves to treat bronchitis and the insomnia curing Ashwagandha root. Bark from the Indian Kino tree has wound healing benefits.




Dandeli is an important tiger habitat with over 70 big cats prowling through its woods as apex predators vital for sanctuary equilibrium. Camera traps have captured tigers swimming the Kali river, stalking prey and training cubs.


These agile spotted cats occupy hilly enclaves around Anshi valley. Almost 30 leopards thrive on small game like hares and langur monkeys during nighttime prowls aided by sharp vision and stealth.

Sloth bears

Insect eating sloth bears forage mainly in the eastern ranges. This shaggy furred mammal uses long claws to dig up ant/termite colonies and rip open trees for honey treats. They strategicically avoid competeing with tigers for prey.

Giant squirrels

Distinctive patches and tassels of fur help identify the handsome Indian giant squirrel. This agile rodent displays incredible aerial stunts between trees – spanning nearly 20 feet in gravity defying leaps!



The Kali river cutting through the sanctuary nurtures good breeding populations of the Marsh crocodile that bask on riverside rocks and prey on fish, small animals. programmed avoidance reflexes.


Nearly 70 snake species inhabit the grasslands and dense forests within the reserve. Prominent are the majestic King cobra, lethal Russell’s viper along with vine snakes and pit vipers excellently camouflaged amongst undergrowth.



During the monsoons, Dandeli resonates with chorus calls of frogs such as fungoid, bush, tree and gliding frogs that emerge around pools and streams within the rich forests to breed.



Grandeur forest birds, the Malabar Pied and Great pied Hornbills are commonly sighted soaring over high branches or foraging on nutritious fruit. Their distinctive casques generate resonant swishing sounds mid-flight.


From the mighty Crested Serpent eagle to iridescent stork-billed types on riverbanks, Dandeli harbors 10 of the 18 kingfisher species found in the Indian subcontinent. The lilac-breasted dainty Green Kingfisher and Blue-eared flashy variants steal the show with their brilliant plumage.


Speckles of red, black and white flash across gnarled tree trunks as endangered White Bellied Woodpeckers rap their strong beaks drilling for larvae. Other woodpeckers like the Black-rumped flameback and Rufous are also found across the sanctuary.

Tourist Activities to do in Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

The Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary offers visitors a thrilling opportunity to explore Karnataka’s natural wilderness first-hand. From wildlife safaris to river rafting, adventure enthusiasts can enjoy a range of activities amid stunning scenery.

Safari rides in Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

Jeep safaris

Drive through evergreen jungles and bamboo groves to spot majestic tigers, leopards, sloth bears, jackals, gaurs along with over 300 avian species from a custom open-roof jeep accompanied by skilled guides. Early mornings maximize animal sightings during their peak activity cycle.

Boat cruises

Cutting along the swirling river waters, guided boat rides let you soak in dramatic Kali river vistas surrounded by remoteness. Cave explorations behind minor falls and whirlpools prove especially popular. Crocodiles, otters and kingfishers are native companions on this tour.

Trekking in Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

Dandeli extends over 20 lush trails of varying difficulty for walking enthusiasts – from the rugged Kulgi nature camp path to the moderate Syntheri rocks night trek illuminated by bio-luminescent plankton. Scenic lookout points at Sykes Point love getting photographed at dawn.

Camping in Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

Special arranged jungle camping with bonfire BBQ amid the sanctuary wilderness offers a remote rustic experience under the dazzling night sky. Separate family and group campsites are facilitated with indoor bathrooms/showers, tiered accommodation plus multi-cuisine meals.

Birdwatching in Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

Ornithology lovers prefer migratory seasons when almost 200 rare species converge here during their India routes. The Hornbill festival held annually draws flocks of birding fans. Trained birder guides assist in checking feathered friends off your life list via boat rides or treetop hides.

Angling in Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

The swirling Kali river waters offer memorable game fishing opportunities for Mahaseer – a hard fighting surface feeder fish species weighing over 40 kg! Local equipment and bait is provided. November to May sees ideal fast currents drawing trophy sizes though a strict catch and release norm is enforced.

Threats and Conservation in Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary


Easy terrain access and proximity to villages causes issues with local tribes and outside poachers illegally hunting deer, wild pigs and predators for profit and bush meat. Snares and crude guns are used. Forest rangers conduct anti-poaching treks employing reform strategies to gain indigenous support.

Mining Activities

Iron ore deposits discovered along sanctuary buffers lured mining companies compromising conservation. Campaigns against land encroachment plus judicial forest area protection reduced this hazard substantially. Current low impact small mines with strict ecological audits extract minimal ore sans habitat damage.

Invasive Species

Foreign plants like Lantana and Eupatorium weeds have establishing among Dandeli greenery, threatening nutrition cycles. Botanists identify and uproot such flora manually and through leaf fungus bio-controls. Exotic fish release is banned preventing river biodiversity upsets. Visitor bags and boots get checked and sanitized preventing introductions.

Conservation Efforts

Dandeli’s complete protection focus has expanded its tiger density to above 9 per 100 sq km winning conservation awards. Solar electric fencing shields human contact minimizing conflict. School outreach programs foster nature empathy while staff training strengthens protection infrastructure aided by NGOs like Wildlife Society of Orissa and United Conservation Movement. Locals gain employment forest patrolling with welfare incentives gaining pro-conservation attitudes.