IN371
Bherjan-Borajan-Podumoni Wildlife Sanctuary


Year of compilation: 2004

Site description
Bherjan (105 ha), Borajan (493 ha) and Podumoni (176 ha) are tiny pockets of lowland tropical forest present in Tinsukia district, Assam. These forest areas have the distinction of having the highest biomass of primates anywhere in the Indian subcontinent (Choudhury 1995a, 1995b). The three areas are disjunct and separated by tea gardens and human habitations. These are entirely on the flat plains of the Brahmputra Valley, so they lie in the Endemic Bird Area called Assam Plains by BirdLife International (undated). Older alluvium of the River Brahmaputra covers all three areas. The compact and brownish soil is suitable for tea plantation, hence, all the forests have tea gardens on the fringe areas. There are small, scattered marshes, with swamps, covered with dense growth of grass and Alpinia herb. The natural vegetation of all these areas is Tropical Wet Evergreen ‘rainforest’ type. Bherjan is almost entirely covered with trees with closed canopy. The original vegetation has been replaced by a fairly old mixed plantation dominated by the deciduous species Lagerstroemia parviflora and Terminalia myriocarpa. The Podumoni part is mostly in a degraded state due to large-scale felling. The canopy has been very badly broken up. Only a few mature trees of Artocarpus, Bombax, Lagerstroemia and Mesua species can be seen. Bojaran is a pocket of excellent rainforest, dominated by Dipterocarpus macrocarpus. Except for Teak, all the species as in the other two forest pocket are found. Bamboo species are found in all areas. Stenochleana palustre, an edible fern, grows abundantly all over, especially in the openings and clearings.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Eighty-four species of birds have been identified (Choudhury 1995a) including some threatened and Near Threatened species. This site has been identified as an IBA based on the presence of three threatened species, notably the Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus and two species of Gyps vultures. At least three pairs of Lesser Adjutant nest in Borajan RF. Locally it is called Godul (Choudhury 1995a). Many lowland birds of the Tropical Wet Evergreen Forests of Assam, of which only fragments are left, are found here. The Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris and the Near Threatened Great Pied Hornbill Buceros bicornis are occasional visitors to Bherjan and Podumoni. The site lies in Biome-9 (Indo-Chinese Tropical Moist Forest) as classified by BirdLife International (undated).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Other fauna of the Sanctuary include the Short-tailed Mole Euroscaptor micrura, Slow Loris Nycticebus coucang, Pig-tailed Macaque Macaca nemestrina, Rhesus Macaque M. mulatta, Assamese Macaque M. assamensis, Capped Langur Trachypithecus pileatus, Hoolock Gibbon Hylobates hoolock, Stump-tailed Macaque M. arctoides (locally extinct), Chinese Pangolin Manis pentadactyla, Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis, Leopard Panthera pardus, Tiger P. tigris (stray), Asian Elephant Elephas maximus (stray), Common Giant Flying Squirrel Petaurista petaurista, Pallas’s Squirrel Callosciurus erythraeus, Malayan Giant Squirrel Ratufa bicolor, Chinese Porcupine Hystrix hodgsoni, Wild Boar Sus scrofa and Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: Illegal felling; Firewood collection; Encroachment; Poaching; Pollution of waterbodies by insecticides used in the tea gardens.

The presence of a forest village in Borajan causes much biotic pressure. This village (Palga Forest village) could be relocated. No more encroachment by the ‘Forest villagers’ should be allowed. Roads passing through the middle of Bherjan and Borajan RFs should be aligned along the boundaries. The powerline passing through Borajan RF also needs to be realigned outside the forest area. Since all the forests are small, they should be fenced off. An awareness campaign is also necessary in the fringe villages and tea gardens. The possibility of rescue and translocation of “village” Hoolock Gibbons to Bherjan Reserve Forest may be explored. Due to wanton felling in the village woodlands to the north and east of Bherjan, the Hoolock Gibbons in those areas are under threat. In the degraded portions of the Sanctuary, the regeneration is excellent and only a small plantation may be required. The adjacent tea estates could raise plantations of selected species of trees and bamboo on their fringe areas. This will greatly supplement the range and food of the primates and birds, without any loss to the estates. Among birds, poachers mainly target Kaleej Pheasant Lophura leucomelanos and Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus, the later is locally exterminated in Podumoni and Bherjan forests, while extremely rare in Borajan.

Acknowledgements
Key contributor: Anwaruddin Choudhury.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bherjan-Borajan-Podumoni Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 12/08/2022.