The state of Odisha has a geographical area of 155,707 sq. km.. The recorded forest area is 52,472 sq. km. but the actual forest cover is 47,033 sq. km. as per the State of Forest Report (SFR 1999) of Forest Survey of India. In order to provide proper protection to the wildlife and their habitat, a total of 18 sanctuaries (Protected Areas) including Gahirmatha (Marine) Wildlife Sanctuary, one National Park (Bhitarkanikaj, one proposed National Park have been notified under the provisions of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
These Protected Areas constitute 10.37% of the total forest area and 4.1% of the total geographical area of the state. Besides, one Tiger Reserve (Similipal), one Biosphere Reserve (Similipal), one closed area (Chilika), one Game/Wildlife Reserve (Bppadar – Bhetnoi), one Zoological Park and 8 deer parks (mini zoos) have been notified for both in-situ and ex-situ conservation and management of wildlife.
The state has the singular distinction of having 3 mass nesting beaches of endangered olive ridley sea turtles including world’s largest nesting ground of olive ridley sea turtle, Lepidochelys olivacea. Itches many natural wetlands including largest wetland of Asia (Chilika) now designated as a Ramsar site. A total of 19 species of amphibians, 110 species of reptiles including three crocodilian species, 473 species of birds and 86 species of mammals have so far been recorded in the state which include 54 species of threatened animals (17 species of reptiles, 15 species of birds and 22 species of mammals) as per the definition of IUCN Red Data Book.
The state is implementing several research and conservation projects viz; thp Project Tiger (1972-73), Integrated Crocodile and Sea Turtle Project (1975-76), Project Elephant (1991-92), Aquatic Bird Project (1992-93) and Blackbuck Project (1994-95).