Situated on the Ratanmahal Hills of the Panchmahals district, 45 kms from
Baria, is the Ratanmahal Sloth Bear Sanctuary, serves as the natural habitat
to the sloth bear, a nocturnal and insectivorous species of bear restricted
to the Indian subcontinent. This sanctuary offers the unique opportunity
for learning the habits and behaviors of the sloth bear. It is estimated
that, in 2006, there were 66 sloth bears in the sanctuary. Apart
from sloth bear, the sanctuary also has a large population of leopards.
Spread out over 56 sq km, a visit to Ratanmahal National Park is indeed
Established as a wildlife sanctuary in March 1982, Ratanmahal
is a triangular isle, which covers reserve forests of 11 villages whose
population is around 7000. An area of 150 ha is in possession of the Gujarat
Even though it is a wildlife sanctuary, the beauty of
the dense forests with rugged topography adds to the feel of a hill station.
Ratanmahal is the second highest hill after Pavagadh in the Panchmahal
district. The River Panam and Orsang, major rivers of Central Gujarat,
flows across the small hamlets on the foothills of this sanctuary. An
irrigation dam and reservoir is also built on the Panam River near Godhra
which makes these forests, an ecological significance for water conservation.
The forest sub-type found in the Sanctuary is mixed deciduous
forest which include dry teak forests at the foothills and dry bamboo
brakes on the periphery. The plant species density is relatively high
as there are 543 species of plants which includes 119 species of trees,
40 species of shrubs, 238 species of herbs, 48 species of grasses, 87
species of climbers, 2 species of partial parasite and 9 species of orchids.
The major floral species comprise Amla, Sadad, Timru, Khakhro, Dudhlo,
Dhavdo, Kakadiyo, Tanach, Mahudacharoli etc. The sanctuary also has a
large number off 'Jamun' trees, which provide food to sloth bear during
Leopard, hyena, jackal, four horned antelope, mongoose, porcupine,
civet cat, jungle cat and fox are the major fauna found in the sanctuary.
The sanctuary has about 147 bird species and 16 of which are terrestrial
species includes grey jungle fowl, partridge, quail etc. Alexandrine parakeet,
common babbler, jungle babbler, crested serpent eagle, green pigeon, hoopoe,
lesser golden backed woodpecker, racket-tailed drongo, Grey jungle fowl,
black headed oriole, yellow cheeked tit, white-eye, iora, tailor bird,
purple sunbird, Loten's sunbird etc. are some common species. Reptiles
like King cobra, common Indian monitor, Russel's viper, Krait, Python
and Rat snake are found here and also a variety of moths and butterflies.
Other reptiles like Star tortoise, Flap-shell turtle, Chameleon and Termite
hill gecko etc are also found in this sanctuary.