Odisha is a nature enthusiast’s paradise. The State is draped with greenery and is enticingly picturesque. The aesthetic pleasure of viewing nature and wildlife in Odisha surpasses the realm of description. The wilderness of Odisha sways the visitors and holds them in awe and wonder.

Odisha is a nature enthusiast’s paradise. The State is draped with greenery and is enticingly picturesque. The aesthetic pleasure of viewing nature and wildlife in Odisha surpasses the realm of description. The wilderness of Odisha sways the visitors and holds them in awe and wonder.

The tourists are easily carried away by the grace and majesty of the flora and fauna of the State. The pulsating natural facets strewn across induce wildlife tourists. Scores of tourists visit the wildlife destinations in Odisha such as Nandankanan Zoological Park, Similipal National Park, Bhitarkanika National Park, Satkosia Gorge Wildlife Sanctuary, Hadagarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Baisipalli Wildlife Sanctuary, Kotagarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Chandaka-Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary, Khalaguni Wildlife Sanctuary, Balukhand-Konark Wildlife Sanctuary, Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary, Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Lakhari Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary, Badarama Wildlife Sanctuary, Sunabela Wildlife Sanctuary, Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary, and Gahirmatha (Marine) Wildlife Sanctuary; and are thrilled by the wonderful sights of wilderness.Odisha possesses rich biodiversity and has a long history of conservation. There is a new rage among environmentalists, researchers, photographers, teachers, students, journalists,intellectuals, and other professionals in visiting the National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries of Odisha. Owing to the stimulus received by the wildlife tourists in the designated centres which take them into a trance, a greater surge is now experienced in Odisha.

Located in the district of Kendrapara, Bhitarkanika harbours amazingly rich and unique biodiversity. The sanctuary is caressed by rivers such as Brahmani and Dhamara and is dotted by several creeks and creeklets. Bhitarkanika supports vital biodiversity including dense mangroves,largest population of estuarine crocodiles, the rare white crocodile (Sankhua), water monitors,king cobra, python, varieties of resident and migratory birds, and a number of mammalian species like spotted deer, sambar, wild boar, fishing cat, otter, etc. Olive Ridley Turtles which shores up the bordering sea beach in thousands for mass nesting during the winter fascinates the visitors. Bhitarkanika has taken a pivotal position as the best ecotourism destination in Odisha.There are exemplary amenities in offer for the tourists. The pristine ambience splashed by green splendors coupled with exotic species of endangered flora and fauna attracts great tourist influx. The area of the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary is 672 Sq. Kms. The core area of Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary comprising of 145 Sq. Kms was declared as a National Park.

The area supports rich biodiversity including mangroves and mangrove associates (71 species), largest population of estuarine crocodiles (1358 as per 2004 census), the rare white crocodile (Sankhua), largest Indian lizards (water monitor), poisonous and non-poisonous snakes like king cobra and python, varieties of resident and migratory birds (217 species) and number of mammalian species (spotted deer, sambar, wild boar, fishing cat, jungle cat, otter etc.)

Chilika has the distinction of being the largest brackish water wetland in India and is situated in the east coast of the state in the districts of Puri, Ganjam, and Khurda. The quaint lagoon is famous for its magnificent biodiversity including the migratory birds and has been declared as a ‘Ramsar Site’. Chilika Lake is studded with tiny mindboggling islands and sandy beaches interspersed with casuarina grooves along the Bay of Bengal. The resident and migratory birds that flock along the lake during winter include flamingo, white bellied sea eagle, spot billed pelican, heron, egret, avocet, wigeon, spoon bill, gull, tern, kingfisher, etc. The endangered Irrawady Dolphins find their abode in Chilika and are a treat to watch. The sunrise and sunset scenes from Chilika are an ever memorable experience.Chilika lagoon has been designated as a Ramsar site (Wetland of International importance) from the 1st October, l981. The Chilika Lagoon is hot spot of rich Biodiversity.The water spread of the lagoon varies between 1165 in monsoon to 906 during summer, and extends over Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts.

There are 546 species of angiospermic plants belonging to 379 genera and 107 families, above 100 phytoplankton genera, 20 species of weed and 7 pteridophytic species documented so far in the Lagoon and the islands.Birds belonging to over 230 species including 14 birds of prey (32% aquatic, 22%waders,
and 46% terrestrial birds) are seen in this lake, of which 95 species are intercontinental and local migrants.

The other vertebrate fauna includes:

· 321 species of fish and crab (fresh water, estuarine and marine species),

· 7 species of amphibians,

· 30 species of reptiles (12 species of lizards and 18 species of snakes) and

· 18 species of mammals.

Two major crabs species (Scylla serreta and Neptunus pelagicus), available in Chilika are of commercial importance.

At present there are about 80-90 Irrawaddy dolphins in the entire lake. A small population of Bottle nosed dolphin, Sousa chinensis also migrate in to the lagoon from the sea Numerous islands are present in the lagoon, prominent among which are Kalijai, Honeymoon, Barakuda, Breakfast, Birds Island, etc.

Similipal is indeed a tourists’ spectacle and is spread across 2277.07 sq. km. area. The Similipal Tiger Reserve has varied flora and fauna and mesmerizing grass terrains. Nature lovers get invigorated by the chirping of birds, roaring of tigers, the crackling of sal trees, whistling woods, and rustling of ravishing streams. The National Park is a renowned wildlife tourism spot and the richest watershed in Odisha spurting out many perennial rivers like the Budhabalanga, the Khadkie, West Deo, the East Der, the Salandi and the Sanjo, which are noted amongst those. Tourists get enchanted at Barehipani and Joranda Waterfalls. Tourists’ packages include visit to the Ramtirtha Crocodile Rearing Centre at nearby Jashipur.
The Similipal Biosphere Reserve comprises of the entire Similipal sanctuary (core and buffer together), the adjoining Nato and Satkoshia Reserve Forests forming additional buffer and a belt of approximately 10 KM width all around the entire buffer designated as the ‘transition zone’. The total area of this BR is 5569 Sq. KMs. The Similipal hill ranges, a densely forested area constitute the core and a part of the buffer zones of the BR, and there are also 65
villages within these two zones including four in the core zone.
Similipal is the abode of 94 species of orchids and about 3000 species of other plants. These include 2 species of orchids which are endemic, 8 plants which are endangered, 8 species whose status is vulnerable and 34 other rare species of plant. Similipal is also the abode of the black and melanistic tiger which is rare. The identified species of fauna include 12 species of amphibians, 29 species of reptiles, 264 species of birds and 42 species of mammals, all of which collectively highlight the Biodiversity richness of Similipal.
Satkosia Gorge is where Mahanadi cuts across the Eastern Ghats forming an awesome gorge.
The sylvan beauty and arresting natural features of this Sanctuary located in the districts of Angul, Cuttack, Nayagarh and Boudh captivates tourists. The enthralling deciduous and sal forests further draw tourists. The major attraction is of course the gorge. Tiger, leopard, elephant, gaur, sambar, spotted deer, mouse deer, nilgai, choushingha, sloth bear, wild dog, etc, along with
avian fauna are the other attractions.
This part is extremely beautiful with lush green forests along the banks of Kanjia Lake. The Botanical Garden is the key attraction for visitors. This sanctuary is renowned for the natural enclosures. The open Lion Safari is a thrilling experience for tourists. The tantalizing gharials stir up the sanctuary. This apart, there are other scintillating attractions like nocturnal animal house, reptile toy train ride, ropeway-ride across a natural lake and facilities for boating. Nandankanan receives great tourist influx and is just 15 kms away from Bhubaneswar.
This is just 20 kms. from the capital city of Bhubaneswar. Chandaka-Dampara Sanctuary with tempting forests and rich biodiversity is a tourist’s fairy land. The rusting bamboos and majestic teaks are imposing attractions in the Sanctuary. Leopard, hyena, spotted deer, wild dog, wild boar, ratel, pangolin, pea fowl, red jungle fowl, white ibis, dab chicks, open bill stork, egret, python, monitor lizard, etc. are spotted in Chandaka-Dampara.
The sole marine sanctuary in Odisha adjoining Mahanadi delta, Gahirmatha has been created to protect the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles, dolphins, and other invaluable marine fauna. A unique mass-nesting site of the Olive Ridley turtles, Gahirmatha is renowned for its soothing sandy shores in the serenity of the Bay of Bengal.
Debrigarh is an ideal place for nature lovers. The rich wildlife spellbinds visitors. The topographical features of this sanctuary are fabulous. Debrigarh is an excellent habitat for chousingha, tiger, leopard, gaur, sambar, spotted deer, sloth dear, resident, and migratory birds, monitor lizards, chameleon, etc. Debrigarh abutting Hirakund reservoir is 40 kms. away from Sambalpur and 60 kms. from Baragarh.
Kotagarh located in Kandhamal district is popular for rich bio-diversity and major wildlife species namely tiger, elephant, gaur, sambar, spotted deer, peafowl, red jungle fowl and a variety of reptiles. Kotagarh has an idyllic ambience. The serene backdrop is further enhanced by a wooden bungalow at Belghar that hosts many nature loving tourists.
Located in the district of Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj, the area is rich in flora and fauna which includes tiger, leopard, fishing cat, jungle cat, hyena, elephant, langur, pangolin, and a dazzling variety of birds and reptiles. The Salandi River and the reservoir and its catchment are exotic features.
Known for its magnetic spectacles, Khalasuni’s wild virgin forests have great pulling power. There is a variety of wildlife like tiger, leopard, elephant, gaur, sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, peafowl, horn bill and a number of reptilian species.
Badarama Sanctuary is popularly known as Usakothi and is located in the district of Sambalpur on the Bamra Forest Division. A lovely and striking locale in western Odisha with hilly undulating areas and rich dry deciduous mixed forests, the wide variety of fauna includes tiger, leopard, elephant, hyena, wild boar, spotted deer, sambar, bear, porcupine, and a number of birds and reptiles which make it very delightful.