Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary

Country/territory: India

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4iii (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 225 ha

Protection status:

Bombay Natural History Society
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2003 high not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
The Nawabganj Priyadarshini Bird Sanctuary is located on the Kanpur-Lucknow highway, 45 km east of Lucknow, near the village Nawabganj in Hasanganj tehsil of Unnao district. The sanctuary has an interesting history. Till 1974, it was an open, shallow wetland, which attracted thousands of waterfowl and many hunters and trappers. These waterfowl used to be supplied to the bird markets of Lucknow, Kanpur, Nawabganj, Unnao and other nearby towns. In 1972, the Indian government enacted the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which totally prohibited shooting and trapping of wildfowl. In 1974, the Forest Department declared Nawabganj as a sanctuary and took over the land. To make it “more attractive to birds”, they planted thousands of trees and built mounds as in the Keoladeo National Park at Bharatpur (Rajasthan). For the first few years, the wildfowl population increased dramatically, and storks, cormorants, egrets, and darters started breeding on the trees growing on mounds. This further encouraged the Forest Department to go on a plantation binge. A 5 km road was constructed circling the Sanctuary, motels and hotels came up and tourism was encouraged. Livestock grazing was totally stopped to prevent “trampling of nests”.There were plans to maintain the water level throughout the year. Large-scale plantation and the ban on grazing resulted in accumulation of biomass, which decreased the depth of the wetland. Slowly this open sheet of water became choked with vegetation. Gone were the skeins of Barheaded Geese Anser indicus and Greylag Geese A. anser and huge flocks of Northern Pintail Anas acuta, Garganey A. querquedula, Northern Shoveller A. clypeata, and Gadwall A. strepera. The wetland that was maintained by grazing and occasional drying is now a small puddle, totally choked with Water Hyacinth and other vegetation. The Forest Department regularly attempts to clear the vegetation, but unless the earlier water regime is restored, it will be difficult to bring back the glory of this important waterfowl refuge, a victim of poor management. The jheel is fed by monsoon run-off and has an average depth of 1.0-1.5 m at maximum water levels. The water level fluctuates considerably, and much of the lake dries out by early summer.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: This lake is important for resident and migratory waterfowl. More than 200 species have been identified (Rahmani, 1992). Large waterbirds started nesting here in 1980 and there is now a mixed heronry of Darter Anhinga melanogaster, Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax, many species of egrets and cormorants, and Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia.Other resident species include Purple Moorhen or Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio, Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus and Bronze-winged Jacana Metopidius indicus. The lake is important for Anatidae and Coot Fulica atra. Nawabganj also has a number of raptors such as Pallas’s Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus, Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, and Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus. The Sanctuary was known for its great congregations of water birds during the winter months. With good management, the bird number could be restored, therefore it has been designated as an IBA. Two to three pairs of Sarus Grus antigone breed in the Sanctuary. During Sarus count in 1999 (Choudhury et al. 1999), a pair with a juvenile was seen inside the Sanctuary, and two pairs and one juvenile were seen in the surrounding fields. A pair of Blacknecked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus is also seen, sometimes with juveniles, but its nest has not been discovered. Other Near Threatened species are listed in the table.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: With protection and afforestation, Jungle Cat Felis chaus and Golden Jackal Canis aureus have appeared, along with the Bluebul Boselaphus tragocamelus. Spotted Deer Axis axis has been introduced to enhance the tourism value of the Sanctuary.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 15/07/2020.