One wants to see multi-storeyed forests with tall trees and rare plants, where hardly any light reaches the ground, Cotigao Sanctuary is the place to go to. It touches the border of Karnataka state and in the lean season, several gaurs are known to come into Cotigao from its neighbourhood. The vegetation is mostly moist-deciduous type, interspersed with semi-evergreen and evergreen patches. It is situated in Canacona Taluka, in the south of Goa. It lies at about 2 km from Poinguinim , which is 10 km away from Chaudi, the main town of Cancacona on NH17. So the approach is very convenient. The Nature Interpretation Centre run by the Forest Department is a valuable repository of knowledge. At present, the Department is capable of providing rudimentary facilities like snake-proof camping sites, canvas tents, reference material and loads of goodwill.
The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Canacona Taluka, South Goa district, of Goa, India. There is an eco-tourism complex at the entrance of the sanctuary that houses a nature interpretation centre, cottages, toilets, library, reception area, rescue centre, canteen, children’s park, and forest ranger office.
The sanctuary is known for its dense forest of tall trees, some of which reach 30 metres in height. A special feature of the sanctuary is a treetop watchtower positioned 25 metres above a watering hole where animals go to drink. The best times to visit the watchtower are dawn and dusk when animals are most likely to be visiting.
Animals in the sanctuary include the flying squirrel, slender loris, Indian pangolin, mouse deer, four-horned antelope, Malabar pit viper, hump-nosed pit viper, white-bellied woodpecker, Malabar trogon, velvet-fronted nuthatch, heart-spotted woodpecker, speckled piculet, Malayan bittern, draco or flying lizard, golden-back gliding snake, and Malabar tree toad. Eight nature trails traverse the sanctuary, ranging from 500 metres to 5 kilometres long. Several tribal groups live in and around the sanctuary including the Velip and the Kunbil. Visitors can interact with these communities to learn about their culture and lifestyle.
The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, was established in 1969 to protect a remote and vulnerable area of forest lining the Goa- Karnataka border. Encompassing 86-sq-kms of mixed deciduous woodland, the reserve is certain to inspire tree lovers, but less likely to yield many wildlife sightings: its tigers and leopards were hunted out long ago, while the Gazelles, Sloth Bears, Porcupines, Panthers and Hyenas that allegedly lurk in the woods rarely appear.
Visitors however, stand a good chance of spotting at least two species of Monkey, a couple of Wild Boar and the odd Gaur. The sanctuary is best visited between the months of October and March. Cotigao is a peaceful and scenic park that makes a pleasant day trip from Palolem beach, 12-km northwest. The wardens at the reserve’s small Interpretative Centre will show one how to get to a 25m-high treetop watchtower, overlooking a waterhole that attracts a handful of animals around dawn and dusk.
Any of the buses running south on NH-17 to Karwar via Chaudi will drop one within 2-km of the gates. However, to explore the inner reaches of the sanctuary, one really needs one’s own transport.