Welcome to Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary. Locally known as KARADI, the Sloth Bear (Melursus Ursinus) lives in open scrub forests having outcrop of rocks, tumbled boulders and caves as shelter. Being more of vegetarian, it has choice fodd habits like consuming fruits, tubers, honey, insects and termites. But if it happens to live near human settlements, will not hesitate to add sugarcane and maize crops to its regular diet. It has a fond taste for Ber fruits and Mahuva (Madhuka latifolia) flowers. In a mischievous mood, a bear will also climb palm trees to steal toddy from collection pots. They usually hunt for food during nights and rest during the mornings, drinking water at least once in a day.
Hampi near Hospet, in Ballari district is a renowned world heritage centre. The unique Sloth Bear sanctuary is situated very close to this heritage site. Situated only 15 kilometers from Hampi, Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary is the only sanctuary in North Karnataka.
Though the sanctuary is relatively new, which began in 1994 in the eastern plains of Karnataka, it has proved to be a suitable habitat for the Indian Sloth Bears in a span of few years.
The rock-strewn hillocks that stretch between Daroji of Sandur taluk and Ramasagar of Hospet Taluk in Ballari district have been the abode of Indian Sloth Bears since ages. In October 1994, the Government of Karnataka declared 5,587.30 hectares of Bilikallu reserve forest as Daroji Bear Sanctuary.
Geographically, it is located between 15o 14′ to 15o 17′ N latitude and 76o 31′ to 76o 40′ E longitude. However, at the time of declaration, the forest had nothing but barren stony hillocks and thorny trees. Owing to the arduous efforts of the staff and support of the surrounding villagers, the sanctuary has transformed into a lush green area boasting of a verdant forest with exuberant local species of flora and fauna.
It is estimated that about 120 Sloth Bears are living in this sanctuary, apart from Leopards, Hyena, Jackals, Wild Boars, Porcupine, Pangolins, Star Tortoise, Monitor Lizard, Mongoose, Pea Fowls, Partridges, Painted Spur Hen, Quails etc. About 90 species of birds, and 27 species of butterflies have also been identified in this sanctuary in a preliminary survey.
There are eight species of Bears in the world. Indian Sloth Bear is confined to India and Sri Lanka only. Its scientific (Zoological) name is Melursus ursimus. It has long, dark unkempt coat of hair with a characteristic v-shaped chevron on its chest.
Fore limbs are longer than the hind limbs. The hairless feet are armed with white, blunt, curved claws, which extend up to three inches. Hairless webs unite the pads of the fingertips. Though the head is comparatively large, the Sloth Bears have relatively small ears and eyes. Hence their sense of hearing and vision is poor. But they have outstanding sense of smell.
Their short-haired, grayish-colored muzzle is extremely flexible and ends in the nose. The nostrils can be closed at will. The lips are extremely loose and two incisor teeth are absent in the upper jaw. All these arrangements are helpful for sucking termites and ants.
Normally, adults attain a length of about six feet and stand three feet at the shoulder. Male adults weigh about 140 kg and female adults about 75 kg. While sommer is their mating period, this is often accompanied by a lot of quarrel and fighting between the males and the females. Usually two to three cubs are born in winter. The newborn cubs are small, hairless and blind for three weeks. The mother rears the cubs for two to three years. The life span of Bears is 40 to 50 years. The Sloth Bears are nocturnal animals.
Visiting hours of the sanctuary is between 2.00 P M and 6.00 P M on all days. To watch the Bears one must be in the watch-tower on a hillock and sit quietly to look at the Bears descending from the opposite Karadikallu Gudda. This hillock has hundreds of caves where the Bears take shelter.
For the travel enthusiasts, who nurture plans to visit this sanctuary, it is advisable to wear natural dark colored clothes. Avoid white and light colored garments. Arm yourself with binoculars and cameras. The best time to visit the sanctuary is between August and April
How to Reach :
Daily flights are available between Jindal Vijayanagar Airport ( 38 Kms from Daroji ) to Bengaluru and Hyderabad under UDAAN Scheme. Flights are also available to Hubballi Airport which is 150 Kms away from Daroji.
Hosapete and Toranagal are the nearest railway stations which are 20 Kms away from Daroji Daily trains are available from Hubli and Guntakal junctions to Hosapete / Toranagal.
Ballari District is well connected by Bus through state highway and National Highway. Buses are available to all major cities of karnataka from ballari ( 65 Kms from Daroji ) and Hosapete (20 Kms from Daroji).