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Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa, India

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Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, 52km east of Panjim on the border of Ponda and Sanguem talukas, is the least appealing. Encompassing a mere eight square kilometers of mixed deciduous and evergreen forest, its centerpiece is a seedy zoo whose cramped enclosures are guaranteed to disappoint any animal enthusiast hoping to see fauna in the wild. On the plus side, Bondla is set amid some magnificent scenery. Draped with lush jungle, a spectacular ridge of hills rises to the southeast, roamed by herds of gaur (Indian bison), black-faced langur, jackals, monkeys, wild boar, several species of deer, pythons, some gargantuan spiders and a handful of elusive leopards. The park is also a bird-and butterfly-spotter’s paradise, boasting enough rare species to warrant a lengthy stop if you’re on an ornithological tour of the region.

Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa, India

Nearby, a small Interpretation Centre, gives a rundown of Bondla’s flora and fauna, and displays natural curiosities that include a whale skeleton. Most visitors proceed from here to the zoological and botanical gardens, lured by the promise of elephant rides and the chance to ogle a captive lion or tiger, although its mangy macaques and big cats copped up in pens are distressing, and you’d be better to head along the lane leading south from the car park. Fording several streams, this road is impassable during the monsoons, but at other times is a safe and scenic.