Year of compilation: 2004
AVIFAUNA: A total of 213 bird species are known to occur in the Sanctuary and the surrounding waterbodies (Barua 1995, Lahkar 2003). Chakrashila was a happy hunting ground for local landlords (Zamidars) and others even after it was declared as a reserve forest in 1966. Charaching of birds, mainly waterfowl, was also prevalent in the area before it was declared as wildlife sanctuary. This indiscriminate hunting led to the local extinction of a few species such as the Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis (Lahkar 2003). The Swamp Francolin was common in the area, mainly near the Chakrashila village and Dhir beel till the late eighties, but due to destruction of habitat in the form of agriculture, settlements, firewood and thatch collection, felling and over hunting it has been wiped out gradually from the area (Lahkar 2003). However, some globally threatened species are still seen, namely Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius, Lesser Adjutant L. javanicus and two Gyps species of vultures. Among the Near Threatened species, we have Darter Anhinga melanogaster, Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca, Greater Greyheaded Fish-Eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus, Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus, Great Pied Hornbill Buceros bicornis and Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus (Lahkar 2003). Both wetlands, Dhir and Diplai, attract a lot migratory birds in winter including Near Threatened Ferruginous Duck and the Vulnerable Baer’s Pochard Aythya baeri. On January 11, 1991 during the mid-winter Annual Waterfowl Census, 565 Ferruginous Ducks were counted in the Diplai beel and c. 500 in the Dhir beel on January 9, 1991 and 328 on January 8, 1992 (Choudhury 2000). Based on the AWC, Choudhury (2000) has listed Baer’s Pochard records from Diplai beel: 118 were reported in 1989 and 53 in 1990. In Dhir beel, 26 Baer’s Pochard were reported in 1989, and 55 in in 1990. As the AWC data are not very reliable, these figures have to be considered with caution. The Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga was recorded in Dakra beel in 1995 (Barua 1995). According to Lopez and Mundkur (1997), 19,828 birds of 43 species were counted in 1994 in Dhir beel during Annual Waterfowl Count. In 1995, the population increased to 26,433 but the number of species remained same. The population declined in 1996 to only 7,102 but the number of species seen was 41. In the Diplai beel, in 1994, the total number of waterfowl was 3,224 of 37 species. For Dakra beel, we have census information of 1996. A total of 2,409 birds of 20 species were counted. Lahkar (2003) observed three immatures along with two adults of the Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni in the Sanctuary. This suggests the possibility of breeding of this species inside the Sanctuary. The site falls in the Assam Plains Endemic Bird Area (Stattersfield et al. 1998) but the terrain of the Sanctuary is hilly, while the surrounding areas are plain, having a mixture of beels and wet grasslands. Three species have been listed in this EBA: Manipur Bush-Quail Perdicula manipurensis, Marsh Babbler Pellorneum palustre and Black-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis flavirostris. Only Marsh Babbler is likely to occur here as some good patches of agrassland are still found.
OTHER KEY FAUNA: At least 34 species of mammals have been recorded so far in Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary, out of which 6 species are globally threatened. Some of the important mammals include the Golden Langur Trachypithecus geei, Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta, Chinese Pangolin Manis pentadactyla, Crab-eating Mongoose Herpestes urva, Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard P. pardus, Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Gaur Bos frontalis, Hoary-bellied Himalayan Squirrel Callosciurus pygerythrus, Particoloured Flying Squirrel Hylopetes alboniger and Golden Jackal Canis aureus. A variety of reptiles and amphibians are also found in this site such as Kraits Bungarus spp., Cobras Naja spp., Python Python molurus and Monitor Lizard Varanus sp.
For the past many years, conservationists have been demanding the inclusion of Dhir and Diplai beels in the Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary but the request is pending with the Government. The major issue is fishing with very fine mesh nets which catch non-target species and fish fingerlings. Charaching of birds also takes place, but it could be easily controlled by better management and awareness. The wetlands are under the control of the Fisheries Department, that further complicates the problem, as their aim is to maximize fish catch and not conservation. All these problems show the need to work with local communities to benefit them and also conserve the site.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Chakrashila Complex. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/01/2021.