Sangla (Raksham Chitkul) Wildlife Sanctuary

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 65,000 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2003 very high not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
Located in the catchment area of the Baspa Valley, the Sangla Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the arid zone of the middle Himalayas. The flora and fauna is therefore quite unique. Govind Wildlife Sanctuary of Uttaranchal is adjacent to its southern boundary, and a little beyond the eastern boundary of the Sangla Sanctuary lies the Tibetan plateau (Singh et al. 1990). The high altitude areas (above 2,000 m) of this Sanctuary are less accessible and therefore, less disturbed. Thick forests of Deodar Cedrus deodara, and Chilgoza pine Pinus girardiana, and broadleaf species are found from 2,000 m upwards. From 2,800 m upwards, Fir-Spruce Mixed Forest with bamboo-dominated undergrowth prevails. This Sanctuary is known for its vast alpine pastures. The forest clad hill slopes are very steep, punctuated with rock outcropping bearing no vegetation at all. Such habitats alternate with a vast number of hill streams (nullahs), which descend to meet the main valleys of Shong, Barua, Rukti and Batseri nullahs. The precipitous hill slopes in these remote valleys make them difficult for humans to approach, but are suitable for wildlife. Five major forest types are seen in this Sanctuary: Dry Alpine Scrub, Dry Temperate Coniferous Forest, Dry Broadleaf and Coniferous Forest, Upper West Himalayan Temperate Forests, and Lower Western Himalayan Temperate Forests. This classification is based on Champion and Seth (1968). The higher reaches are snowbound most of the year, and four glaciers are located within the Sanctuary. The alpine area of Sangla WLS has a rich growth of herbs. The local villagers earn part of their livelihood by collecting and selling them. The most important herb, collected in quantities, is Dhup Jurinea macrocephella. Other herbs are Karu Gentiana kurroo, Patish Aconitum heterophyllum, and Kuth Banafsha Viola canescens, Saussurea lappa. Several herbs found in the alpine pastures of this Sanctuary are of great importance in Ayurvedic medicine.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Highly endangered species of pheasants, including the Western Tragopan Tragopan melanocephalus are found in this Sanctuary. Other pheasants are Himalayan or Impeyan Monal Lophophorus impejanus, Koklass Pucrasia macrolopha and Kaleej Pheasant Lophura leucomelana. Sangla also has many species from Biome-5 (Eurasian High Montane), Biome-7 (Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest) and Biome-8 (Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest). A good bird checklist of this high altitude IBA is not available as no work on bird fauna has been done. From the preliminary list, we find that four out of 48 species of Biome-5 listed by BirdLife International (undated) are found here. They are Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis, Himalayan Snowcock Tetraogallus himalayensis, Vinaceous-breasted Pipit Anthus roseatus and Plain Mountain Finch Leucosticte nemoricola. This is just an indicative list. As some parts of this IBA lie in the Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest (Biome-7), we see birds of this biome also, such as Koklass Pheasant, Himalayan Monal, Speckled Wood Pigeon Columba hodgsonii, Himalayan Woodpecker Dendrocopos himalayensis and Yellow-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa flavirostris. Again, this is not an exhaustive list. As the forest is intact in many places, there are chances that many more birds of this Biome would be present. The site lies in the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (EBA) where Stattersfield et al. (1998) have identified 11 restricted range species. From this list of 11 birds, only Cheer Pheasant has been confirmed till now, but more are likely to be present once we have more information on the bird life of this IBA.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The main large mammals found in this sanctuary are Snow Leopard Uncia uncia, Musk Deer Moschus chrysogaster, Bharal Pseudois nayaur, Himalayan Tahr Hemitragus jemlahicus, Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus at high altitudes, bordering alpine and subalpine regions. At lower elevations, Goral Nemorhaedus goral, Serow Nemorhaedus sumatraensis, Leopard Panthera pardus, and Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus are found. No information is available on smaller mammals, reptiles and other fauna.

Key contributor: Sanjeeva Pandey.

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