Shimla Water Catchment Wildlife Sanctuary

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 1,025 ha

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

Site description
This IBA is one of the few sanctuaries in the state free from human habitation, mainly due to a long history of protection and the steep terrain which discouraged human habitation. It was protected in British India as the catchment area for supply of water to Shimla, the summer capital of the British. After India’s Independence in 1947, the area came under state control and was notified as a protected forest in 1952. To the south, it is connected by a forest corridor to Chail Sanctuary (another IBA). The Sanctuary area is within the purview of the Simla Municipal Corporation. The entire Sanctuary is forested, mostly with temperate coniferous forest. Cedar Cedrus deodara is predominant, mixed with Ban Oak Quercus incana and Chir Pine Pinus roxburghii at lower altitudes, and Fir Abies pindrow, Blue Pine Pinus wallichiana, Moru Oak Quercus. dilatata and Spruce Picea smithiana at higher altitudes. Shrub and ground layers are generally well developed, with shrubs covering 50% of the area. Ground vegetation is mainly grasses, but includes a variety of ferns and forbs (Gaston 1979).

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Documentation on the avifauna is limited to pheasants. The density of Koklass Pheasant Pucrasia macrolopha, estimated at 17-25 pairs per sq. km in April 1979, is probably close to the maximum reached under natural conditions (Gaston et al. 1981). Similar densities were recorded by P. J. Garson in 1988. The population of Kaleej Pheasant Lophura leucomelanos also appears to be large (Gaston et al. 1981) but actual density estimates are not available. This IBA lies in the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Areas (EBA). It also has biome-restricted species of Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest (Biome-7) and some of Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest (Biome-8). BirdLife International (undated) has listed 112 species in Biome-7. From the preliminary list that we have, we could find only seven species at this site, most of them quite common and of no conservation concern. Similarly, in the Biome-8, 95 species are listed but we could find published information on the occurrence of only four species from this site. This shows the paucity of information and not paucity of bird life of this IBA. If detailed studies of birds are conducted, perhaps more biome and globally threatened species would be found in this site. This site is selected as an IBA due to the presence of the globally threatened Cheer Pheasant, and also the presence of middle-altitude forest of the lower ranges of the Western Himalayas. As we do not have much information on the general bird life, the site is considered as Data Deficient.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Large mammals include Leopard Panthera pardus, Barking Deer or Indian Muntjak Muntiacus muntjak, and Goral Nemorhaedus goral. Non-human primates include the Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta and Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus. The Yellowthroated Marten Martes flavigula, and Porcupine Hystrix indica are also found (Gaston et al. 1981, 1983). Flying Squirrel Petaurista petaurista is also present, but the Himalayan Musk Deer Moschus chrysogaster, of which Gaston (1979) had found signs in this area, may be locally extinct (Green 1981).

Key contributor: IBA team.

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