Known for its splendour and pristinely home to many species, the Chandaka-Dampara sanctuary signifies a tale of success. Spread over an area of 193.39 Sq.Km on the up land of North-Eastern Ghat of biotic region, Chandaka- Dampara sanctuary is a treasure house of biodiversity. The park is known for successful conservation of elephants which is the principal species here.Spread over such an big area at the Chandaka forest, Khurda Uplands were designated as the Chandaka Elephant Reserve in August 1982.
Floral diversity in Chandaka is categorized in 6 types, viz. secondary moist miscellaneous semi-evergreen forests, moist Kangada forests, Coastal Sal forests, thorny bamboo brakes, planted Teak and Eupatorium scrub. Main tree species are Kochila, Kalicha, Bela, Kangada, Giringa, Sunari, Sal, Kumbhi, Jamu, Karanja, Teak and Sidha. Male bamboo has a very restricted distribution. Common medicinal plants of Chanka are Duramari, Baidanka, Brudhadaraka, Bhuinlimbo, Guluchilata, Salparni, Satabari, Bhuin-kakharu, Indrajaba, Thalkudi, Apamaranga, Kurchi, Patalgaruda etc. A few species of ground Orchids, Ferns, Club mosses, Bryophytes and Lichens are distributed in shady wet pockets and rock escarpments.
After elephant other prominent animals are Leopard, Chital, Barking deer, Mouse deer, Wild pig, Common langur, Rhesus monkey, small Indian civet, Common Indian mongoose, Small Indian mongoose, Ruddy mongoose, Pangolin, Sloth bear, Ratel, Indian wolf and Hyena are other mammals of the area. Wild dogs are occasionally seen. After 40 long years researchers have found evidence of a tigress & her cub in the forest. Recently in the winters of 2012, they have spotted footprints of those two magnificent creatures.
Prominent birds of Chandaka are Peafowl, Red jungle fowl, crested serpent eagle, Great horned owl, Black headed oriole, Paradise fly catcher, Coucal and stone curlew. Kumarkhunti reservoir during winter serve as transient roosting and feeding ground for several migratory duck species, notably, Garganey and common Teal, Pintail, spot billed and bramhiny Duck and white eyed Pochard. Lesser whistling Teal, Dabehick, Cotton Teal, Nakta, lesser Cormorant, bronze winged Jacana, white breasted Waterhen, pied, white breasted and little blue King fishers and red wattled Lapwings are other resident birds around. In July the reservoir transform into an abode of migratory birds, mainly, open billed Storks, pond Heron, Egrets and Cormorants. Butterflies are abundant during monsoon and post monsoon months.
Reptiles, Rock python and Bengal Monitor lizard are quite common. Chameleon, Common skink, Indian flap shell turtle, Russel's viper, Bamboo pit viper, Common krait, Common vine snake, Kukri snake, Indian bronze back are indicative reptiles. Mugger crocodiles have remarkably adapted to large water bodies after their release.
You can find amazing butterflies here, the common are common Mormon, blue Mormon, common Emigrant, common Leopard, common Hedge Blue, Indian Crow, double banded Crow, common Sailer, common Bush brown, grey Pansy and peacock Pansy.
For visitors there are a number of watch towers to observe wild life. While Kochilaberana, Pitagadia and Chari chhak watch towers are excellent for observation of birds and animals, the ones at Kumarkhunti and Ambilo have the comfort of rest houses where one can make a night halt.
Chandaka is 20 kms from Bhubaneswar, which is the nearest airport and railhead.