The state of Orissa has flourishing wildlife. A true delight for the nature lovers Orissa has some exquisite sites of ecotourism. The diverse topography of the state serves as a natural abode for many distinct varieties of flora and fauna. The eastern ghats, the central uplands, the Chotnagpur plateaus, the plains and the coastal areas of Orissa have contribute towards the evolution and survival of a many different ecosystems. Orissa is the fourth largest state of India in terms of forest cover, its per capita land under forest doubles the national average. The data itself signifies the immense care which has been shown towards the preservation of the greenery and wildlife in Orissa which are an important mark on the landscape of Orissa. The state has around 18 wildlife sanctuaries, three national parks and three wildlife reserves. These sanctuaries and parks are spread in an area of 6611 sq. kms, the forests lands cover around 37% of the total land area of the state. The marine sanctuaries like Gahirmatha added another 20 kms to the area.
These sanctuaries are also the sites for many adventure activities like rafting, trekking, angling, camping and so on. The nature unfolds its mystifying treasure deep inside these woods. The picturesque falls like Joranda and Barehipani in the Simlipal National Park makes it an ideal location for picnics. The splendid Satkosia George is enabling many sanctuaries to flourish in and around it.
The flora and fauna of Orissa shows a very high degree of endemism owing to the presence of distinct topography within the state. The wildlife sanctuaries and the national parks of Orissa serves as a natural habitat for many of the endangered species like wild boar, sloth bear, sambar, barking deer, spotted dear, wild dog, fishing cat, Indian pangolin, giant squirrel chowsinghas, leopards, mouse dear, lion tailed macaque, salt water crocodiles etc. The prominent reptiles of these forests include the poisonous Cobras, the mighty pythons, flying lizards and gharials. The national animal of India, the tigers are found in abundance in many forests of Orissa, there are wildlife reserves especially dedicated to these royal beasts like the Simlipal, Satkosia, Basipalli and Sunabeda tiger reserves. Nandankanan sanctuary of Orissa has got accolades from the wildlife conservationists all over the world for being home to the rarest white tigers. The forests of Chandaka and Mayurbhanj have been declared as the protected enclosure for being the home to the largest mammal on Land, the giant Asiatic elephants. The Bhitarkanika sanctuary is the second largest Mangrove viable ecosystem of India and serves as the natural dwellings for the rare white crocodiles, while Simlipal known for the abundance of the Red Silk Simul Trees got nation wide attention for being the first few sanctuaries to be selected for the first phase of 'project Tiger'. The royal Bengal Tiger population of the sanctuary is growing since then. The Gahirmatha beach bordering the Bhitarkanika sanctuary is a world heritage site today for being the nesting grounds of the endangered Olive Ridley Sea Turtles. Bhitarkanika is an island sanctuary near the sea coasts hence it known for boosting the vegetation and wildlife found in the tropical and subtropical inter tidal regions.
Chilka otherwise known as Ramasar Lake has been recognized as wetlands of International Importance for being the abode for around 800 aquatic fauna and a similar number of flora. Some of the fishes like mullets and hilsa which have once got extinct from Orissa have reappeared recently as result of the protected measure taken by the wildlife conservation authorities. Chilka is also the homeland for the magnificent Irawaddy Dolphins. The lakes like Ansupa, Chilka and the islands of Bhitarkanika attract many migratory birds from distant places like Siberia for their annual wintering cycle. Viz. Lesser Flamingos, Goliath Heron, Grey herons, and Purple herons, Egrets, Spoonbills, Storks and Black-headed Ibis are the prominent ones. The rare species like Asiatic Dowitchers, Dalmatian Pelican, Pallas's Fish-eagles, the very rare migrant Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Spot-billed pelican have also been seen in the Nalban islands of Chilka.
There are mainly four types of forest found in the state of Orissa viz, Tropical Semi Evergreen, Tropical Moist Deciduous, Tropical Dry Deciduous and Littoral and Swamp Forests. Bamboo, teak, rosewood, neem, sal, piasal, sanghvan and haldi are the prominent trees of these forests.
The prominent sanctuaries of the state include Nandankanan, Bhitarkanika, Simlipal, Chilka, Satkosia George Ushakoti, Chandaka Dampara, Sunabeda, Ambapani, Balukhanda etc.