Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary

Site description (2004 baseline):

Site location and context
Being the only hill station in Rajasthan, Mount Abu is considered one of the most beautiful locations in the state. It comprises the famous Arbuda Hills (1,250-1,700 m) of the Aravalli Range made up of several valleys and steep mountain slopes. Guru Shikhar (1,722 m) in the Arbuda Hills is the highest peak between the Himalaya and the Nilgiri Hills. Mount Abu has a very rich floral diversity with xeromorphic Subtropical Thorn Forest at the foothills to Subtropical Semievergreen Forest along watercourses and valleys at higher altitudes. Due to this wide range of habitats, Mount Abu harbours rich avifaunal diversity. Good populations of Grey Junglefowl Gallus sonnerati and Red Spurfowl Galloperdix spadicea are found in the Sanctuary. Mount Abu is situated in the southwest region of Rajasthan, and separates the Western Desert Region from the Eastern Plateau and hilly terrain. By road, it is 28 km from Abu Road, which is c. 85 km from the district headquarters, Sirohi. The site contains about 830 plant species from 112 families of which 328 species are of medicinal value. Dicliptera abuensis is strictly endemic to Abu. The dominant plant species are Anogeissus sericea, Boswellia serrata, Mangifera indica, Phoenix sylvestris, Ficus bengalensis, other Ficus spp. Carissa opinarum, Caesalpinia spp. and Zizyphus spp.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Nearly 135 bird species have been reported by Sharma (2002), including two Critically Endangered species, Oriental Whitebacked Vulture Gyps bengalensis and Long-billed Vulture G. Indicus, and two Vulnerable species, Green Munia Amandava Formosa and Pied Tit Parus nuchalis. Mount Abu is a good example of the relict extant natural vegetation of the Aravallis. It lies in Biome-11 (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone). BirdLife International (undated) has identified 59 bird species from this biome. This biome includes a wide range of habitats, including both forests and open country. Many of the species listed have adapted to man-modified landscapes. Some species have changed their distribution so much that they are also present in other biomes. Nevertheless, 32 out of 59 species of this biome have been recorded. This site is selected as an IBA mainly on the basis of its biome assemblage of birds of Tropical Dry Deciduous and its relict patch of Tropical Semi-evergreen Forests, and also for the presence of good populations of Green Munia and Pied Tit. Green Munia appears to be well distributed in this IBA. Tiwari and Varu (1999) have seen six in agricultural fields near Salgaon area, five near Adhar Devi Temple forest, and three near Teachers’s Training Centre and Kanyakumari Temple. Presence of this globally threatened species was further confirmed by Lodhiya (1999) when he saw it four times near Oriya village, 8 km from Mount Abu, and three times behind Mini Nakki Lake, 2 km from the famous Delwara Temple. Mount Abu WLS has a disjunct population of Grey Junglefowl Gallus sonneratii. They were quite abundant on the Shanti Shikar Hill and Guru Shikar region but are now much reduced in number due to trapping by tribals (Prakash and Singh 1995). This species is not threatened (BirdLife International 2001) but its presence, in the small surviving relict semi-evergreen forests in an otherwise very dry area, is of interest. The nearest other population of this basically south Indian species is Pachmarhi (c. 22° 30’N and 78° 25’E) in Madhya Pradesh (Ali and Ripley 1987). Another taxon worth noting is the Aravalli Red Spurfowl Galloperdix spadicea caurina, a subspecies of the Red Spurfowl (Ali and Ripley 1987). Although the Red Spurfowl is not a threatened species, the Aravalli subspecies has a very small distribution, with Mount Abu as its principal stronghold. Protection of this site is important for the survival of this subspecies.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The most common large mammals in the Sanctuary are Langur Semnopithecus entellus, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Spotted Deer Axis axis and Chowsingha or Fourhorned Antelope Tetracerus quadricornis. Leopard Panthera pardus and Bear Melursus ursinus are occasionally sighted, generally near water holes. Small Indian Civet Viverricula indica, Jungle Cat Felis chaus, Porcupine Hystrix indica, Ratel or Honey Badger Mellivora capensis, Pangolin Manis crassicaudata, Indian fox Vulpes bengalensis and Golden Jackal Canis aureus are the common smaller mammals.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: Forest Fires; Poaching; Illegal felling of trees; Disturbance to birds by tourists; Invasive species (Lantana camara); Introduction of exotics Eucalyptus and Grevillea; Tourism pressure; Pilgrim pressure.

The Sanctuary has a large human settlement. Urbanization is increasing due to the importance of Mount Abu as a tourist location. The Government of Rajasthan has ordered a check on new constructions in Mount Abu but strict implementation is lacking. Besides the heavy tourist traffic, introduction of exotic plant species Eucalyptus and Grevillea robusta, and infestation by the exotic Lantana camara has also disturbed the natural vegetation of Mount Abu Region. Several NGOs conduct nature camps and awareness camps inside the Sanctuary with the collaboration of the Forest Department. To some extent, this helps to create awareness, among the local people, of the need to protect Mt. Abu from further deterioration. Rodgers and Panwar (1988) have suggested declaration of a 5,000 ha core area as National Park, to provide better protection, as Mount Abu is of considerable biogeographical and ecological importance as an island of semi-evergreen forest in a semi-arid location.

Key contributors: Raza Tehsin, Satish K. Sharma, Sarita Sharma, Satya P. Mehra.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 26/02/2024.