Kistwar National Park

Country/territory: India

IBA criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2004)
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Area: 40,500 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
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Site description (2004 baseline)
This high altitude national park is named after the old town of Kistwar, in Doda district. It is located c. 40 km northeast of Kistwar. Like most of the protected areas in Kashmir, Kistwar NP forms the catchment area of many rivers and streams (nullahs). The important ones are Kiyar, Nanth and Kibber nallahs, all draining southwest into Marau river which joins the Chenab river just above Kistwar town. The Marau drains the western slopes of the Bramah and Nun Kun ranges. The Park is bounded to the north by the Rinnay river, south by Kibber Nullah catchment, to the east by the main divide of the Great Himalayas and to the west by Marau river. The terrain is mostly precipitous, rough and rugged. Moderate to very steep slopes are seen, mostly covered with thick forests. The slopes are broken by rocky cliffs, which form ideal habitats for the Himalayan Ibex Capra sibirica. Due to its latitude, high altitudes, high ridges and narrow, deep forest-covered valleys, the climate is extreme. Winters are extremely severe, and in some areas winter rains are common, although most precipitation is in the form of snow. Strong winds enhance the extreme cold in winter. Kistwar NP has 13 main vegetation types, from alpine grasslands, to mixed coniferous forests, to Oak-Fir forests. Broadleaf forest occurs in the nullahs and cool damp aspects. Silver Fir Abies pindrow occurs in pure stands, but also mixed with Deodar Cedrus deodara and Kail. In general, Silver Fir and Spruce Picea wallichiana, mixed with Cedar Cedrus deodara and Blue Pine Pinus griffithii, are predominant from 2,400 m to 3,000 m. The main forest types are: Moist Deodar Forest, Western Mixed Coniferous Forests, Moist Temperate Deciduous Forest, Low-level Blue Pine Forest, West Himalayan Upper Oak Forest, Chilgoza Pine Forest, Dry Deodar Forests, Parrotia Scrub Forests, West Himalayan High Level Dry Blue Pine Forest, West Himalayan Sub-alpine Birch/Fir Forest, Sub-alpine Pasture, Birch- Rhododendron Scrub Forest and Alpine Pastures (Anon. undated).

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: No detailed study has been conducted on the avifauna of the Park. Scott et al. (1988) during their ‘Kashmir Expedition’ have recorded 78 species of birds, including the Himalayan or Impeyan Monal Lophophorus impejanus and Koklass Pucrasia macrolopha. The globally threatened Western Tragopan Tragopan melanocephalus has also been reported. Recently, an injured bird was found by the forest officials which was later released (Department of Wildlife Protection, undated). M. M. Baba (pers. comm. 2003) has prepared a checklist of 115 species, which includes many species found in Biome-5 (Eurasian High Montane - Alpine and Tibetan) and Biome-7 (Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Kistwar is famous for its high altitude fauna, from the elusive Snow Leopard Uncia uncia to the commoner Himalayan Ibex. During a census in 1999 by the staff of the forest department, 612 ibex were found in Kibber, Nath and Kiyar areas. Brown Bear Ursus arctos occurs mainly in sub-alpine and alpine regions, while the Eurasian Black Bear Ursus thibetanus is found in the lower reaches, where the Leopard Panthera pardus is also found. The Himalayan Musk Deer Moschus chrysogaster, Indian Muntjak Muntiacus muntjak, Serow Nemorhaedus sumatraensis, Goral Nemorhaedus goral and Wild Boar Sus scrofa are some of the ungulates. The Kashmir Stag or Hangul Cervus elaphus hanglu is also reported, especially during winter. Bharal or Blue Sheep Pseudois nayaur is found in the alpine regions, where it is the main prey of the Snow Leopard. There are reports of Markhor Capra falconeri. Common Langur has now been split into seven species (Groves 2001). Of these, the Himalayan Grey Langur Semnopithecus entellus ajax is found in Kistwar.

The most important areas for wildlife are considered to be the Kiar and Kibber valleys. Hangul is reported to occur in Kiar, but only in the severest of winters when animals are thought to migrate from the Dachigam, 100-150 km to the northwest. Goral is reported to occur around Sondar and Sirshi, Ibex in the Bramah area and snow leopard in Upper Kiar (Scott et al. 1988).

Key contributors: M. S. Bacha, Rahul Kaul, M. M. Baba and Peter Garson..

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Kistwar National Park. Downloaded from on 09/12/2023.