Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 30,729 ha

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

Site description (2004 baseline)
The Pong reservoir, also called the Maharana Pratap Sagar, was created in 1976 by the damming of the River Beas in the foothills of the Himalayas on the northern edge of the Indo-Gangetic plain. It contains several deforested islands which attracts a large number of waterbirds. The northern edge is very flat, with mudflats and wet grasslands and attracts major concentrations of birds. Pong Dam was basically an irrigation reservoir but when a large number of birds started coming regularly to the wetland, the reservoir was declared a bird sanctuary in 1983. There is some submerged vegetation, but the shoreline does not support much emergent vegetation due to the pronounced seasonal changes in water level. There is an extensive swamp with reed beds and grasslands in the seepage area below the dam (Gaston 1985, 1986). The surrounding hillsides still support some Mixed Deciduous and Chir Pine Pinus roxburghii forest.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: The lake is an important wintering ground for waterfowl. About 10,000 ducks were recorded in December 1985, with Mallard Anas platyrhynchos predominant, and smaller numbers of Northern Pintail A. acuta, Common Teal A. crecca and Common Pochard Aythya ferina (Gaston 1985; Gaston and Pandey 1987). Two Rednecked Grebes Podiceps griseigena, and several Great Blackheaded Gulls Larus ichthyaetus, a species that is fairly uncommon away from the coast in India were also observed. Waders such as Greenshank Tringa nebularia, Green sandpiper T. ochropus, Common sandpiper T. hypoleucos and Temmink’s stint Calidris temminkii occur in considerable numbers. A great variety of raptors were also recorded, including Osprey Pandion haliaetus, Pallas’s Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus, Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus and Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax. Gaston (1985) observed a total of 103 species in the area, but more than 220 species have since been recorded (Pandey 1989). Recent counts have shown that the concentration of wintering waterfowl has sharply increased to over 60,000 and over 75,000 in 2002 and 2003 respectively. The most numerous species are Northern Pintail [25,000], Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus [10,000], Common Teal [>6000], Eurasian Wigeon [>6000], Common Pochard [>5000] and Great Cormorant [>4500] (J. W. den Besten pers. comm.2003). Most of these numbers are much above the 1% population threshold recently described by Wetlands International (2002). For instance, Wetlands International estimates the Bar-headed Goose population to be between 52,000 and 60,000. With 10,000 present in this IBA site, it means that almost 20% of the population of this species occurs in Pong Dam! No other IBA site in India holds such a huge population of this species. The lake sustains some breeding birds. There are up to several dozen pairs of Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax, Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica, Little Tern Sterna albifrons, Yellow-wattled Lapwing Vanellus malabaricus and large numbers of River Tern Sterna aurantia, and Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus. A few pairs of Sarus Crane Grus antigone breed in the vicinity. The outflow area of Shah Nehar barrage sustains breeding populations of Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus, Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio, Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus, Yellow Bittern I. sinensis and White-tailed Stonechat Saxicola leucura.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: In recent years, Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Himalayan Yellowthroated Marten Martes flavigula, Small Indian Civet Viverricula indica, Wild Boar Sus scrofa and Nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus have been reported, the last two species in the outflow area (J. W.

den Besten pers. comm. 2003). Reptiles include the Common Cobra Naja naja, Python Python molurus and Common Monitor Varanus bengalensis. Fish species found are Mahseer Tor tor, Mallip Wallago attu and Sole Ophiocaphalus marulius.

Key contributors: Jan Willem den Besten, Sanjeeva Pandey and Murari Thakur..

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 24/09/2023.