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RADHANAGARI WILDLIFE SANCTUARY

Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary (Bison Sanctuary) is a wildlife sanctuary located in Radhanagari Taluka of Kolhapur district, Maharashtra state India. It lies at the southern end of the Sahyadri hills in the Western Ghats. It is notable as the first declared wildlife sanctuary in Maharashtra, notified in 1958, as Dajipur Wildlife Sanctuary and is popularly known as the "Bison Sanctuary".

The nearby Sagareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary has religious, cultural and archaeological significance. The name is derived from a famous ancientShiva temple and has been a place of pilgrimage for many centuries. The temple inside the sanctuary is actually one large temple and a complex of 51 small temples, all from the Satavahana dynasty, between 230 BCEuntil around 220 CE.

There is another temple called Kamal Bhairao or Kal Bhairao, located on the edge of a steep cliff. The entrance to that temple is through a narrow tunnel and the temple itself is partially hewn out of hard basalt rock. Both these temples deserve additional archaeological survey.

Previously the forests of Radhanagari were specially used as the game reserve of the king of Kolhapur Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj (1874-1922).

In 1958 an area of 19.61 km2 (7.57 sq mi) was declared as Dajipur Wildlife Sanctuary. In 1985 the Government of Maharashtra expanded the sanctuary by declaring additional areas of forest including the catchment basins of the two major reservoirs: Kalammawadi Reservoir (also called Rajarshi Shahu Sagar Reservoir) and Radhanagari Dam & Reservoir (also called Laxmi Sagar Reservoir) as Radhanagari wildlife sanctuary.

Sanctuary contains 47 species of Mammals, 59 species of reptiles, 264 species of birds and 66 species of butterflies. Amphibians are most visible in the rainy season. 20 species from 2 orders, 5 families and 10 genera are listed in the sanctuary.

Indian Bison or gaur (Bos gaurus) with a population around 610 in 2004, is the flagship species of the area. Other mammals, living in the sanctuary are Indian Leopard (5), Sloth Bear, Wild Boar (80), Barking Deer (140), Mouse Deer (80), Sambar (120), Giant Squirrel 50) and Wild Dogs (70). In recent years, 6 to 12 Tigers were reported in Dajipur forest 2007-08.

Birds seen here include: vultures, eagles, Jungle fowl, Quails, Plovers, Sandpipers, Owlets, Doves, Owls, Nightjars, Kingfishers, Bee-eater, Hornbills, Woodpeckers, Bulbul, Flycatchers, Warblers, Wagtails, Sunbirds are commonly seen.

This sanctuary is designated as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International and is home to the rare and globally threatened Nilgiri wood-pigeon (Columba elphinstonii). Other species found here include the Ceylon frogmouth, yellow-browed bulbul, dusky eagle-owl and great pied hornbill and one of India's most admired songbirds, the Malabar whistlingthrush. Two species endemic to the Western Ghats: the small sunbird and the Malabar grey hornbill have been sighted here. This sanctuary is a favorite nesting place for the speckled piculet, Malabar crested lark, and some species of Himalayan birds such as the Indian blue robin during the winter months.

Threatened species of reptiles and amphibians seen in this sanctuary include: Malabar pit viper, Deccan ground gecko, Gunther's cat skink, Beddome's lacerta, Bombay bush frog and Humayun's wrinkled frog.

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