Andaman Islands

Country/Territory India; Myanmar
Area 8,200 km2
Altitude 0 - 700 m
Priority high
Habitat loss moderate
Knowledge incomplete

General characteristics

The Andaman Islands comprise c.325 islands and islets in the Bay of Bengal. They are the summits of a submarine mountain range which stretches still further to the south and east to form the Nicobar Islands (EBA 126) and then Sumatra (EBA 158). The Andamans' major islands-North, Middle and South Andaman-are nearly contiguous and together make up more than two-thirds of the archipelago's land area. The few small northernmost islands, including Table, Great Coco and Little Coco, are politically part of Myanmar, while those further south belong to India.

Native vegetation includes tropical evergreen and semi-evergreen rain forest, moist deciduous forest, and mangroves around the coasts and on some islands.

Restricted-range species

All the restricted-range birds are forest-dwelling species; some appear quite common in disturbed forest and have been recorded near the capital, Port Blair, in South Andaman (Curson 1989).

Access to some of the islands is extremely limited-most records and collections are from Middle and South Andaman-and many species have thus appeared to be restricted to these two islands. A recent survey has shown, however, that they occur more widely (L. Vijayan in litt. 1996) (see 'Distribution patterns' table). One species with an extraordinarily small range is Aceros narcondami, being confined to the small, isolated island of Narcondam (6.82 km2).

Reports from the early twentieth century mention that Megapodius nicobariensis occurred on Little Andaman and the Coco Islands (R. W. R. J. Dekker in litt. 1993), but the species is presumed extinct there now. A further four species are shared with the Nicobar Islands (EBA 126) indicating the affinity between the two EBAs (see Ripley and Beehler 1989).

Species IUCN Red List category
Nicobar Scrubfowl (Megapodius nicobariensis) VU
Andaman Woodpigeon (Columba palumboides) NT
Andaman Cuckoo-dove (Macropygia rufipennis) LC
Andaman Coucal (Centropus andamanensis) LC
Andaman Crake (Rallina canningi) LC
Andaman Boobook (Ninox affinis) LC
Andaman Scops-owl (Otus balli) LC
Andaman Serpent-eagle (Spilornis elgini) VU
Narcondam Hornbill (Rhyticeros narcondami) VU
Andaman Woodpecker (Dryocopus hodgei) VU
Andaman Drongo (Dicrurus andamanensis) LC
Andaman Treepie (Dendrocitta bayleii) VU
White-headed Starling (Sturnia erythropygia) LC

Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)
Country IBA Name IBA Book Code
India Austin Strait IN447
India Barangtang - Rafters Creek IN448
India Chainpur and Hanspuri IN450
India Interview Island Wildlife Sanctuary IN452
India Jarawa Reserve (Middle Andaman and South Andaman) IN453
India Kadakachang (Katakatchang) IN454
India Landfall Island Wildlife Sanctuary IN455
India Little Andaman IN456
India Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park (Wandoor National Park) IN457
India Mount Diavalo and Cuthbert Bay IN458
India Mount Harriet National Park IN459
India Narcondam Island Wildlife Sanctuary IN460
India North and South Sentinel IN461
India North Reef Island Wildlife Sanctuary IN462
India Rani Jhansi Marine National Park IN463
India Saddle Peak National Park IN464

Threat and conservation

In recent years the human population on some of the larger islands has grown rapidly due to the settlement of people from mainland India. Remaining forest is consequently under severe pressure from agriculture and grazing, with habitat loss and degradation from logging being another major threat to wildlife (Whitaker 1985, Curson 1989, Sinha 1992).

Introduced species also threaten native ones either directly through predation or indirectly by degradation of their habitat; for example, spotted deer Axis axis, introduced in the early twentieth century and now widely distributed, is a particularly disruptive alien, adversely affecting forest regeneration as well as causing serious crop losses (Pande et al. 1991). Hunting is another major threat, with a lack of awareness among local people regarding the status of their avifauna (L. Vijayan in litt. 1996).

Not surprisingly all the restricted-range bird species of this EBA are classified as threatened or Near Threatened. Of the two threatened extant species, Aceros narcondami (numbering only c.400 individuals in 1993) is especially vulnerable because of its exceptionally tiny range, and Rallina canningi, a terrestrial wetland species, may be threatened additionally by introduced predators (J. C. Eames in litt. 1993) such as dogs, cats and rats. Nicobar Pigeon Caloenas nicobarica, a widespread species classified as Near Threatened, also occurs on the islands.

A few small national parks have been established in the Andamans and many more sanctuaries, largely on offshore islands (including Narcondam Island), have been notified recently (see Pande et al. 1991). However, there are concerns that these protective regulations are not sufficient to conserve wildlife, and the recent rapid increase of tourism in particular urgently requires some scientific management (Sinha 1992).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Andaman Islands. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/eba/factsheet/137 on 29/02/2024.