MAHANANDA WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary is located on the foothills of the Himalayas, between the Teesta and Mahananda rivers. Situated in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, India; it comes under Darjeeling Wildlife division and can be reached from Siliguri in 30 minutes. Sukna, the gateway to the sanctuary, is only 13 km from Siliguri and 28 km from Bagdogra airport. The sanctuary sprawls over 159 km2 of reserve forest and was started as a game sanctuary in 1955. In 1959, it got the status of a sanctuary mainly to protect the Indian bison and royal Bengal tiger, which were facing the threat of extinction.
The forest type in Mahananda WLS varies from riverain forests like Khayer-Sisoo to dense mixed-wet forest in the higher elevation in \’Latpanchar\’ area of Kurseong hills. The variation in altitude and forest types helps the existence of a large number of species of mammals, birds and reptiles. Varying altitude from 500 ft at the southern range of Sukna forest to the elevation up to 4,500 ft at Latkothi beat office covers varied vegetation and is home to superb biome restricted species. Latpanchar actually forms the highest part of the Sanctuary, with an average altitude of 4200 ft.
Birds at Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary includes some very endangered species like Rufous-necked Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Great Hornbill etc. Among the others swallow, swift, thrush, babbler, warbler, roller, minivet and sunbird can be found in abundance.
Some exotic species of mammals are reported from this area like Himalayan serow, Himalayan porcupine, Himalayan Black Bear and even more rarer like Binturong and Clouded Leopard. Other important mammalian species include Indian elephants, Indian bison, chital (spotted deer), barking deer, sambar, rhesus monkey, many species of lesser cat like fishing cat and jungle cat, leopard etc.