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Located on the crest of Western Ghats, one of the 12-biodiversity hotspots of the world – I am Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary, and home to the Indian Giant squirrel which is the state animal of Maharashtra. Along with harboring a large diversity of endemic and specialized flora and fauna I also boast of immense cultural, religious and historical significance and have also been identified by the Bird Life International as an Important Bird Area.
I provide shelter to a number of globally threatened and endangered bird species like Greater Spotted Eagle, Jerdon’s Baza, Lesser Kestrel and Nilgiri Wood Pigeon as well as a number of restricted range species like the Malabar Parakeet, Small Sunbird, Malabar Grey Hornbill and Southern Tree Pie. Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary is also the habitat of two critically endangered bird species – Long billed and White backed Vultures as well as a number of other vulnerable species like Austen’s Babbler, Pallied Harrier and Malabar Pied Hornbill.
As an unique location in the upper catchment area of river Krishna and its two tributaries Ghod and Bhima I look amazing being mosaic with different vegetation patterns like deciduous, semi-evergreen and evergreen forests. Though Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary receive heavy rainfall during the three monsoon months, but due to my typical geology it is not stored and I experience an acute water shortage during the summer months.
Bhimshankar Temple located in my sanctuary is visited by thousands of tourists. There are 18 villages residing in me and thus Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary undergo a long continuing conflict between the forest department and the villagers. The Bhimashankar temple is known as the one of the twelve Jyortilingams in India.
As I am easily accessible from different parts of the state, I am regularly visited by a huge number of pilgrims and casual picnickers along with tourists, nature lovers and bird watchers from all over the country and also abroad. As there is acute water scarcity in summer and heavy rainfall during the monsoons, winter is the best time to visit Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary.