Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary gears up for tourist season
BARGARH: Unlike other wildlife sanctuaries in the state, the Debrigarh wildlife sanctuary in Bargarh district is a much sought after destination for tourists as it offers easy and better sighting of animals, thanks to the park’s proximity to the Hirakud water reservoir. And now that winter has set in, tourists will start arriving in droves.
The reservoir is the main source of water for the prey and wild animals. Besides, there is less human interference here. While the route between Dhodrokusum to Chourasimal has been identified as the bison route, the stretch from Dhodrokusum to Damkighati is known for the presence of herbivores such as boar, spotted deer and sambar. Leopards are sighted on the route from Lakhanpur to Badduma.
Divisional forest officer (Hirakud wildlife division) Sudeep Nayak said sighting is best between 4 and 6 pm.
“Mostly tourists from West Bengal flock the sanctuary between December and March. The eco-tourism cottages at Barakhandia have been designed in such a way overlooking the reservoir that tourists can watch migratory birds such as ducks, geese and waders from the cottages. To see animals along specific routes, permission has to be sought from the range office at Dhodrokusum,” Nayak said.
The eco-cottages can accommodate 20 people and they are booked to capacity during the season. “According to our records, during the lean season, 25 per cent of the rooms are booked. In a year, around 2,000 people come to stay in the cottages. Other visitors, who come for sight-seeing take passes. On an average, 1,000 tourists visit the sanctuary in a month,” said the senior officer. According to a rough estimate, the sanctuary is home to about 400 ‘sambars’, he added.
Debrigarh, which is spread over 353 sq km, comprises two reserve forests, Lohara and Debrigarh. To maintain the serenity of the place, the wildlife department has decided not to allow more than 21 vehicles into the park in a day. “Because of limited entry of tourists, we have been able to ensure an undisturbed core area. This is the reason, animals roam freely here,” said Nayak.
The water bodies ringing 60% of the sanctuary area form a natural barrier against poaching. “The sanctuary hasn’t recorded poaching in the past two years,” he said.