Southern Tibet

Country/Territory China (mainland),India
Area 63,000 km2
Altitude 2700 - 5000m
Priority high
Habitat loss unquantified
Knowledge incomplete

General characteristics

The area covered by this EBA lies at the southern edge of the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, immediately to the north of the Himalayas. It includes the valleys of the Tsangpo (or Yarlung Zangbo) river and its tributaries, and several smaller, neighbouring valleys in southern Tibet autonomous region of China, and north-east Sikkim and possibly northern Arunachal Pradesh in India.

The boundary for the EBA has been drawn based on the documented records and altitudinal limits of the restricted-range bird species present. There are, however, some large gaps in their known distributions in the remoter parts of this ornithologically poorly known region (see Vaurie 1972), so a tentative definition of the area is the best that can be attempted thus far. There is minor geographical overlap between this EBA and the Eastern Himalayas (EBA 130).

Restricted-range species

The two species endemic to Southern Tibet are found in the subalpine zone, on the edge of coniferous and mixed broadleaf-coniferous forest and in adjacent rhododendron and juniper scrub and open habitats. They are both locally common (Ali and Ripley 1987, P. Alström in litt. 1993). Crossoptilon harmani is often considered to be a subspecies of White Eared-pheasant C. crossoptilon (e.g. Vaurie 1972), but is here treated as a full species following Ludlow (1951) and Sibley and Monroe (1990).

Species IUCN Category
Tibetan Eared-pheasant (Crossoptilon harmani) NT
Giant Babax (Pterorhinus waddelli) NT

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
Lunang China (mainland)
Serkhyim La Mountain China (mainland)
CN141 Razhêng Temple China (mainland)
CN143 Shongsep Temple China (mainland)
CN149 Gongbo Nature Reserve China (mainland)
IN332 Lhonak Valley India
IN335 Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary - Zuluk - Bedang Tso - Natula Complex India
IN336 Tso Lhamo Plateau - Lashar - Sebu La - Yumesamdong Complex India

Threat and conservation

Crossoptilon harmani is considered threatened because deforestation and hunting may be having a significant impact on it (McGowan and Garson 1995), although the tameness of the flocks observed near Samye monastery suggests that hunting does not occur there (P. Alström in litt. 1993). The threat posed to the EBA by deforestation is unclear (see Smil 1984, 1993), and extensive pine and mixed coniferous forests with prickly oak and rhododendron remain to the east of Lhasa (Robson 1986). A more widespread threatened species which occurs (at least as a non-breeding visitor) in the EBA is Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis (classified as Vulnerable), but this is a wetland bird with different habitat requirements to the restricted-range species.

Part of Medog Nature Reserve appears to lie within the EBA, and there are three other large protected areas close to the EBA which may contain areas of habitat suitable for the restricted-range birds (IUCN 1992d, 1993) although they have not yet been recorded there.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Southern Tibet. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/09/2022.