Year of compilation: 2004
AVIFAUNA: No detailed study on avifauna has been conducted but preliminary surveys reveal around 300 bird species (A. U. Choudhury pers. comm. 2003). The sites fall in Biome-9 (Indo-Chinese Tropical Moist Forests) but many species of Biome-7, Biome-8 and Biome-11 are also seen here such as Rufous-breasted Blue Flycatcher Ficedula hodgsonii, Grey-bellied Tesia Tesia cyaniventer, Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis, Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii, Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae, Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike Coracina melaschistos, Short-billed Minivet Pericrocotus brevirostris and White-throated Bulbul Alophoixus flaveolus. Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush Garrulax moniligerus, Greater or Black-gorgeted Laughingthrush G. pectoralis, Rufous-necked Laughingthrush G. ruficollis, and Sultan Tit Melanochlora sultanea are typical Biome-9 species. Twelve globally threatened species are found in these forests. The presence of Bengal Florican is not confirmed, but as it is found in Manas (another IBA), it is likely to occur in the grasslands of Ripu-Chirang. The presence of the Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis proves that the forest is still pristine, at least in parts. On the Bhutan side, this bird is still not uncommon in undisturbed forests.
OTHER KEY FAUNA: The major attraction of these forests is the Golden Langur. Assamese macaque Macaca assamensis and Rhesus macaque M. mulatta are also found, sometimes together. Six species of large and small cats are reported: Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard P. pardus, Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa, Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata, Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrina and Golden Cat Catopuma temminckii. The Hispid Hare Caprolagus hispidus is another rare mammal found chiefly in the grasslands, where Bengal Florican is likely to be found. Ripu-Chirang forests are rich in ungulates. Sambar Cervus unicolor, Hog Deer Axis porcinus, Chital A. axis, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Wild Water Buffalo Bubalus arnee (= bubalis) (occasional) and Gaur Bos frontalis share the habitat with the Asian Elephant, Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus, and Sloth bear Melursus ursinus.
Two species of otters Lutra lutra and Lutrogale perspicillata are recorded in the rivers and streams. Chinese pangolin Manis pentadactyla, Chinese porcupine Hystrix brachyura and Binturong Arctictis binturong are notable species of this IBA.
The reptile fauna is rich, with Indian Softshell Turtle Aspideretes gangeticus, Peacock Softshell Turtle A. hurum, Indian Rock Python Python molurus, Russell’s Viper Daboia russelii, Common Monitor Lizard Varanus bengalensis, Water Monitor V. salvator, and Tucktoo Gecko Gekko gekko. More than 100 species of butterflies have been recorded.
These rich forests have been severely affected by social unrest since 1989. The unrest began with a demand for autonomy for local tribals, but it soon led to insurgency with attendent political and socioeconomic problems. Professional timber smugglers took full advantage of the situation and clear felled large areas, especially Chirang RF. At present such felling has been stopped, but the situation is still not under total control of the Forest Department. Even now, the Forest Department staff is unable to patrol the remote areas of the IBA.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ripu and Chirang Reserve Forests. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 03/08/2020.