IN077
Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuary


Year of compilation: 2004

Site description
Sitamata Sanctuary is located in South Rajasthan at a distance of 130 km from Udaipur city in Chittorgarh district. The Sanctuary represents the only teak forest in Rajasthan State, and is known for the presence of an isolated population of Large Brown Flying Squirrel Petaurista petaurista philippensis (Tehsin 1980). Before India’s Independence, the area served as a major supplier of bamboo to the Provinces. On the southeast of the Sanctuary lies Jakham Dam on the River Jakham. High hilly tracts surround it. In the hilly part of the Sanctuary, large colonies of Long-billed Vulture Gyps indicus were present up to the 1990s, but now few are left (Raza Tehsin pers. comm. 2002). The forest of the Sanctuary has mythological importance, as it is the forest where Goddess Sita is believed to have spent her last days after being banished from Ayodhya by Lord Rama. The Sanctuary thus gets its name from her. Inside the Sanctuary, River Jakham distributes its water through rivulets named Luv and Kush that rejoin after passing through the Sanctuary. It is said that the river makes thirteen bends inside the Sanctuary. The flow of these rivulets throughout the year makes the forest lush green in the plain areas, with a crown density of over 40%. The Sanctuary is at the junction of the Aravalli and Vindhyan Ranges, which makes the biodiversity of the Sanctuary very significant. The important woody vegetation of the site comprises of Teak Tectona grandis, Butea monosperma, Diospyros melanoxylon, Emblica officinalis, Wrightia tomentosa, Grewia flavescens, Tamarindus indica, Mangifera indica, Ficus glomerata, Syzygium cumini, Eugenia jambolana with large patches of Bamboo Dendrocalamus strictus.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: The area is quite rich in avifauna, and 178 bird species are reported from the site (Sharma 2002). The site lies in Biome-11 (Indo- Malayan Tropical Dry Zone), where BirdLife International (undated) has listed 59 species in the biome-restricted assemblages. In forests and grasslands of Sitamata, 31 species of this biome have been recognized, hence the site is important for the biomerestricted assemblages (A3 criteria). It also has a small nesting colony of Long-billed Vultures, now much depleted. Five species recognized as Near Threatened are also found here.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The Sanctuary is known for the presence of an isolated population of the Large Brown Flying Squirrel. Other vertebrates commonly seen are Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus, Wild Boar Sus scrofa, Bluebull Boselaphus tragocamelus, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Spotted Deer Axis axis, Chinkara Gazella bennettii, Four-horned antelope Tetracerus quadricornis and Black-naped Hare Lepus nigricollis. The important predators of the Sanctuary are Leopard Panthera pardus, Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus, Wolf Canis lupus, Hyena Hyaena hyaena, Golden Jackal Canis aureus and Indian Fox Vulpes bengalensis. Indian Pangolin Manis crassicaudata and Porcupine Hystrix indica also occur.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: Village inside the site area; Illegal felling of trees; Firewood collection; Poaching; Vehicular traffic; Disturbance to birds due to human activities.

The site bears the only natural teak forest in Rajasthan. Since teak serves as an important source of timber of high economic value, the site faces acute threat of illegal felling of teakwood. Besides this, a large human population inhabits the Sanctuary area, due to which human activities such as agricultural practices, firewood collection and poaching are severe threats. Rodgers and Panwar (1988) have recommended that at least 20,000 ha of extant teak forest area should be declared as national park. This will help in the safeguarding of this poorly protected biome.

Acknowledgements
Key contributors: R. S. Shekhawat, Satish. K. Sharma and S. P. Mehra.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/05/2022.