Manas National Park

Country/territory: India

IBA criteria met: A1, A2 (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 50,000 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2003 not assessed high not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2004 baseline)
The Manas National Park, a world heritage site, is located in western Assam on the international border with Bhutan. The most well known of the wildlife reserves of northeast India and second only to Kaziranga, it was earlier called the North Kamrup Wildlife Sanctuary. The river Manas with its distributaries, the Beki and Hakua, flows through the Park. Other smaller streams include Jongrong, Gyati and Garuchara. Known for its scenic beauty, Manas is also home to a number of globally threatened birds and mammals. The Park has now the only viable population of the Critically Endangered Pigmy Hog Sus salvanius. An added advantage to Manas is the presence of the 102,300 ha Royal Manas National Park across the border in Bhutan. For many species, it is a large contiguous wilderness area. The terrain in Manas is mostly flat, gently sloping plain typical of bhabar and terai. Towards the north, small hilly promontories of the Bhutan Himalaya can be seen. Approximately half of Manas is savanna grassland, while the rest is Moist Deciduous and Semievergreen forest. There are no large beels (waterbody), but small beels and pools occur in the southern areas. The three main types of vegetation are: i) Tropical Semi-evergreen forests in the northern part of sanctuary; ii) Tropical Moist Deciduous Forests (the most common type); and iii) extensive alluvial grasslands in the western part of the National Park, comprising many grass species, and a variety of tree and shrub species (e.g. Dillenia pentagyna, Phyllanthus emblica, Bombax ceiba, and species of Clerodendrum, Leea, Grewia, Premna and Mussaenda). There is also a considerable variety of aquatic flora along riverbanks and in the numerous pools (Jain and Sastry 1983). Drier deciduous forests represent early stages in succession and are replaced by Moist Deciduous forests away from watercourses, which, in turn, are succeeded by Tropical Semi-evergreen climax forest. Grasslands cover about 50% of the Sanctuary. Some 393 species of dicotyledons, including 197 trees, and 98 species of monocotyledons have been identified.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Around 310 bird species have been reported from this IBA (Narayan et al. 1989, Ali et al. 1985). Several uncommon species, including the Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius and Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus and Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis can be seen here. Manas has perhaps, the largest known population of the Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis where Narayan, (1992) estimated about 80 birds in 1989-90. It is an important area for most of the tall wet grassland species, such as Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis, Marsh Babbler Pellorneum palustre, Slender-billed Babbler Turdoides longirostris, Jerdon’s Babbler Chrysomma altirostre, Bristled Grass-warbler Chaetornis striatus and many others. Hodgson’s Bushchat Saxicola insignis, another tall grassland species is present in Manas during winter. Manas is one of the few places where the Vulnerable Finn’s Baya Ploceus megarhynchus is found nesting. According to the biome classification of BirdLife International (undated), Manas mainly lies in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (Biome-12) where 13 species are considered as biome represented. Except for Collared Myna Acridotheres albocinctus that anyway is restricted to Manipur and a small portion of adjoining Assam, all the remaining 12 species are found in Manas. Presence of such a high percentage of biome-restricted birds proves the habitat is still intact and in pristine condition. Based on the excellent bird life and significant populations of some globally threatened species, Manas Tiger Reserve is considered as one of the Outstanding IBAs of India (BirdLife International 2003).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Manas harbours some of the richest mammalian diversity in India.

More than 60 mammals have been identified, including 22 listed in the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 (Rahmani, et al. 1992). Only the most endangered are mentioned here. This Park is the only known site for the globally threatened Pygmy Hog Sus salvanius.

A captive breeding and reintroduction programme is on going (G. Narayan, pers. comm. 2001). Hispid Hare Caprolagus hispidus is another endangered species doing well in Manas. Its pellets indicate its presence in all suitable grasslands. Some of the pure population of Wild Buffalo Bubalus arnee (= bubalis) is found in Manas. In all other areas interbreeding with domestic buffalos is a major problem. To the west of Manas river, in Bhutan, Golden Langur Trachypithecus geei is found.

Manas is also known for its large herds of Asian Elephant Elephas maximus and Hog Deer Axis porcinus. Before the devastation brought about by insurgency, it was not uncommon to see congregations of up to 200 Hog Deer. In deeper jungle, Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa is found, but difficult to see due to its nocturnal habit and shy nature. There is a small population of Swamp Deer Cervus duvaucelii. Earlier, their habitat was shared by the Indian Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis but sadly poachers killed most of these animals. Tiger Panthera tigris is still present, although in smaller numbers.

Reptiles are among the lesser-known animals of Manas. In addition to the Yellow Monitor Lizard Varanus flavescens and the King Cobra Ophiophagus hannah, which belong to the endangered category, Manas also harbours a variety of turtles and terrapins.

The Assam Roof Turtle Kachuga sylhetensis was recently found (Sharma 1988), which is a range extension for this extremely rare species. Other rare turtles are the Eastern Hill Terrapin Melanochelys tricarinata and the Indian Sawback or Roofed Terrapin Kachuga tecta.

Key contributors: Anwaruddin Choudhury, Goutam Narayan and Asad R. Rahmani.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Manas National Park. Downloaded from on 24/09/2023.