Chail Wildlife Sanctuary

Country/territory: India

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 10,854 ha

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
Chail Wildlife Sanctuary lies in Solan and Shimla districts. Formerly, it was the private game reserve of the Maharaja of Patiala. Inspite of degradation, it is still one of the best sanctuaries for the Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichii. The Sanctuary has, within its boundaries, Chail town and numerous villages, and is connected by a forest corridor to the Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary (an IBA) in the north. It comprises part of the catchment area of a tributary of the Giri River. The forest cover of the Sanctuary includes Himalayan Subtropical Pine Forest, Ban Oak Forest and Moru Oak Forest, according to the forest classification by Champion and Seth (1968). The dominant forest tree is Ban Oak Quercus incana, mixed with Chir Pine Pinus roxburghii at lower altitudes. Rhododendron Rhododendron arboreum forms pure stands in places and Cedar Cedrus deodara and Blue Pine Pinus wallichiana have been planted in some areas. There is little mature forest, and much secondary growth due to disturbance (Gaston and Singh 1980). Reference to the habitat map in Garson (1983) shows that the forest is largely confined to the northern half of the sanctuary. Around 418 ha were planted with Pine, Oak, Cedar and Robinia up to 1984 (Singh et al. 1990).

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: At least 139 bird species are reported from the site (Naim Akhtar pers. comm. 2003), including five species of pheasants, i.e. Cheer, Koklass Pucrasia macrolopha, Kaleej Lophura leucomelanos, Peafowl Pavo cristatus and Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus. While Cheer Pheasant occurs only in grassland, Kaleej and Koklass occur in oak forest. This IBA is extremely important for the protection of the globally threatened Cheer Pheasant. In the late 1970s, Gaston and Singh (1980) and Gaston et al. (1981) estimated 40 to 60 pairs, while in March 1983, Garson (1983) estimated a minimum of 32 pairs. Sharma et al. (1990) conducted further surveys in March 1987, and recently Kalsi (1999) surveyed Cheer Pheasant in Himachal Pradesh between March and June, and found many pairs in Chail. Most recent work on this species is by Akhtar and Narang (2002) who found “high abundance of Cheer pheasant” in Chail. It is widely distributed in places called Blossom and Khari-un. They also found one more grassland site near Bhagairh village. This IBA lies in the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (EBA) (Stattersfield et al. 1998) and Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest (Biome-7) and Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest (Biome-8) (BirdLife International, undated). Eleven species are considered restricted range in this EBA and in Chail WLS, only one species (Cheer Pheasant) has been identified till now in this category. Perhaps, more detailed studies are required here to find out whether other restricted range species occur here or not, although habitat and altitude look suitable for some of them.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Leopard Panthera pardus is the main predator, and has for its prey ungulates such as Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Sambar Cervus unicolor and Goral Nemorhaedus goral. Goral occurs in very good numbers in Chail as evident by the encounter rate of 7 animals/km walk (S. Sathyakumar pers. comm. 2002). The European Red Deer Cervus elaphus was introduced more than half a century ago by the former Maharaja of Patiala (Singh et al. 1990), but none were sighted during a census in 1988 (S. Pandey pers. comm.). Other species include Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus, Wild Boar Sus scrofa, Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus and Black-naped Hare Lepus nigricollis.

Key contributors: Sanjeeva Pandey, S. Sathyakumar and Naim Akhtar.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Chail Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 10/12/2022.