Geography and Animal Species
The forest type in Mahananda WLS varies from riverain forests like Khayer-Sisoo to dense mixed-wet forest in the higher elevation in 'Latpanchar' area of Kurseong hills. The variation in altitude and forest types helps the existence of a large number of species of mammals, birds and reptiles. The important mammalian species include Royal Bengal Tiger, Indian elephants, Indian bison, spotted deer, barking deer, many species of lesser cat, Himalayan black bear, leopard including clouded leopard and many other smaller animals like rare mountain goat (Serow), porcupines, snakes, etc. The Sanctuary also holds hundreds of feathered species. The exciting list includes some very endangered species like fairy blue bird, Himalayan pied hornbill,etc. Among the others; swallow, swift, thrush, babbler, warbler, roller, minivet, sunbird can be found in abundance.
The sanctuary is an ideal place for wildlife lovers. Several glades, hides and watchtowers have been created near natural saltlicks and streams to invite wild animals. The railway cabin in the abandoned Gulma Station inside the core area of the sanctuary has been converted into a watchtower. The tower is located besides the Gulma River and is an ideal place for wildlife viewing. There are a number of rest houses in the sanctuary including two in Sukna and arguably the best one in Latpanchar.
Latpanchar: At 4000ft above sea level, Latpanchar is the highest place in Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. It is 44Kms way from Siliguri and can be reached by a 13km drive from Kalijhora on the Siliguri-Gangtok national highway.