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The Nandi Hills also referred to as Nandi Durg, about 60 km north of Bangalore, is a popular tourist spot. The site lies within the 2,837 ha Nandi State Forest, comprising three main hillocks (over 1,400 m) with seven peaks in all. Of these, Nandi Hills is the tallest (1,435 m). Though Nandi Hills has a general pattern of scrub and deciduous type of vegetation, altitudinal variations in the floristic composition can be seen owing to the influence of several ecological factors (Boraiah and Fathima 1970). There is an extensive plateau on the top, sloping to the west, that harbours a crater-like depression in the northwest. Part of this depression supports evergreen vegetation with a dense shrub layer dominated by Coffea sp. In addition to a few lianas, the trunks and branches of the vegetation within this evergreen patch are draped with Spagnaum moss (Subramanya et al. 1994). The hill slopes and valleys are covered with open scrub, and at places there are introduced Eucalyptus and Shorea talura. Most of the original forest cover has disappeared, replaced by secondary growth, primarily thorny scrub. However, some natural forest is still surviving, especially near the summit (Ghorpade et al. 1974). Lantana grows like a weed and has invaded the undergrowth, replacing native flora. Hillsides are clothed with scrub forest, mixed with Eucalyptus.
AVIFAUNA: During his Mysore survey, Ali (1939) had visited Nandi Hills and made notes on birds. Later, Ghorpade et al. (1974) made several trips to this area for bird watching and insect collection, and recorded only 38 bird species, some of them more common to hills than the Deccan plains. But none of these observers recorded the globally threatened Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus, till Subramanya et al. (1991) visited this area, especially looking for this bird. They found that it lives “near vertical slopes of giant rocky knobs dotted at places with dense canopies of stunted trees such as Ficus montana growing out of cracks and crevices.” Subramanya et al. (1994) have seen the Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon Columba elphinstonii in 1987, 1990, 1991 and 1992 at an elevation of 1,450 m. This is an interesting record, as the species is generally found in the moist evergreen biotope of the Western Ghats from Kerala to western Maharashtra (Ali and Ripley 1987, Grimmett et al. 1998). The species has also been observed nesting at Nandi Hills (Karthikeyan 2000). The Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon is listed as Vulnerable by BirdLife International (2001) owing to its small, declining population, as a result of widespread destruction of its forest habitat. Prior to its decline, Nandi Hills along with the adjoing hill ranges once supported a healthy population of Long-billed Vulture Gyps indicus. In the evergreen patch of forests, Subramanaya et al. (1994) and Prasad et al. (1995) have recorded many forest species such as Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis, Blue-headed Rock Thrush Monticola cinclorhynchus, White-throated Ground Thrush Zoothera citrina cyanotus, Blackbird Turdus merula, Indian Blue Chat Erithacus brunneus and Pied Ground Thrush Zoothera wardii. The site lies in the Southern Deccan Plateau which comes under Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone, according to classification of biomes by BirdLife International (undated). In this biome, 59 species have been listed which could be considered as representative of the bird assemblages of this large biome. This biome includes a wide range of habitat, including both forests and open country. Many of the species listed have adapted to manmodified habitats, thus they are quite widespread and common. Nevertheless, out of the 59 species, 24 have been seen at Nandi Hills and its environs. Therefore, this site fulfils A3 criteria (the site is known or thought to hold a significant component of the group of species whose distributions are largely or wholly confined to one biome: BirdLife International, undated).
OTHER KEY FAUNA: No information.
Key contributors: S. Subramanya and the IBA team.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Nandi Hills. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/05/2022.