Year of compilation: 2004
AVIFAUNA: Nearly 80 bird species have been recorded so far (Lahkar 2002), but there could be three times as many actually present. Robson (2000) has heard globally threatened Tawny-breasted Wren Babbler Spelaeornis longicaudatus near Shillong in mid-April. It appeared to be common, occurring in non-forest habitat (secondary growth, dense fern growth, etc.) as well as undergrowth in forest. This poorly known babbler qualifies as Vulnerable because it has a small, declining, severely fragmented population and range owing to clearance and degradation of moist evergreen forest (BirdLife International 2001). Three restricted range birds of the Eastern Himalaya were found here but again, this is based on preliminary short surveys. This IBA site is very rich in avifauna and further surveys would record many more restricted range species. Many species of Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest (Biome-7) and Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest (Biome-8) are found here. A few are listed below: Blyth’s Kingfisher Alcedo hercules, Golden-throated Barbet Megalaima franklinii, Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina melaschistos, Rufous-bellied Bulbul Hypsipetes mcclellandii, Black Bulbul H. leucocephalus, Golden Bush-Robin Tarsiger chrysaeus, Aberrant Bush-Warbler Cettia flavolivacea, Orange-barred Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus pulcher, Grey-faced Leaf-Warbler P. maculipennis, Orange-gorgeted Flycatcher Ficedula strophiata, Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus, Fire-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga ignicauda, Shortbilled Minivet Pericrocotus brevirostris, Crested Finchbill Spizixos canifrons, Grey-winged Blackbird Turdus boulboul, Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis, Red-billed Leiothrix Leiothrix lutea, Rusty-fronted Barwing Actinodura egertoni, Blue-winged Minla Minla cyanouroptera, Striated Yuhina Yuhina castaniceps, Grey-headed Flycatcher-Warbler Seicercus xanthoschistos, Black-spotted Yellow Tit Parus spilonotus, Streaked Spiderhunter Arachnothera magna.
OTHER KEY FAUNA: Larger mammals have become extinct or a few that are surviving are very rare. So far the following species have been recorded: Flying fox Pteropus giganteus, Himalayan or Short-tailed mole Euroscaptor micrura, Mole-shrew or Szechuan Burrowing Shrew Anourosorex squamipes, Savi’s Pygmy Shrew Suncus etruscus, Grey Shrew Crocidura attenuata, Yellow-bellied Weasel Mustela kathiah and Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak. There was also a record of the Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa in the 1960s (A. Munim Mazumdar in litt. to A. U. Choudhury).
The site is adjacent to the growing township of Shillong, as a result of which biotic pressure is relatively high. This includes firewood collection, use of trails from Upper and Madan Laban to Laitkor and Upper Shillong. Encroachment is a growing problem. Already a road has come up along the northern edge of Riat Laban and illegal settlements are coming up along the road, which will further increase the biotic pressure. However, the forests still survive to a great extent, and are of vital importance for the capital city as water catchment areas. Hence, for better conservation, the site should be declared a protected area and the importance of the forest area as a source of water should be emphasized in environmental awareness programmes.
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Upper Shillong. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/07/2019.