Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary - Himalayan Zoological Park - Ratey Chu Reserve Forest

Country/territory: India

IBA criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 5,381 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2003 not assessed high not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2004 baseline)
Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary is located in East Sikkim on a mountain range opposite Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim.The highest point of the Sanctuary is the Tinjurey Peak (2,750 m), which is connected by mountainous ridges to Fambong Lho Peak and Ragorathai Peak. The Sanctuary is girdled with a number of growing villages. The word ‘Fambong Lho’ seems to have come from the Lepcha word Hambomloh for the local avocado trees Machilus edulis and M. odoratissima. The Himalayan Zoological Park above Gangtok is adjacent to the Sanctuary, separated by the Rani Khola (river). Both the Fambong Lho and the Gangtok ranges form part of the catchment of the Rani Khola (Anon. 2002) and are contiguous with the Ratey Chu Reserve Forest. The main vegetation of this IBA includes Oak Quercus lamellosa and ‘Katus’ Castanopsis hystrix. Rhododendron arboreum interspersed with Lyonia ovalifolia are seen gregariously on high hills and saddles. The IBA is also home to a large number of wild orchids, mosses, ferns and Lycopodium spp. (Anon. 2002).

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Over 281 species of birds have been reported from this area, opposite the bustling township of Gangtok (Anon. 2002). Of these, the Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis not seen since the slaughterhouse at Gangtok was shifted to south to Rangpo almost a decade ago. The Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis reported by Ali (1962) from Gangtok has not been sighted lately.The Beautiful Nuthatch Sitta formosa is a globally threatened is still found, while the Rusty-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx hyperythra was remarkably easily netted and ringed both in Fambong Lho and Himalayan Zoological Park in the 2001 BNHS Bird-Banding Programme. The Red-breasted Hill-Partridge Arborophila mandellii was reported by Ali (1962) from Gangtok but not heard or sighted recently unlike the commoner Hill Partridge Arborophila torqueola. The Hoary-throated Barwing Actinodura nipalensis and the White-naped Yuhina Yuhina bakeri are restricted range species reported from this IBA (Anon 2002). In this Eastern Himalayas Endemic Bird Area, four out of 21 restricted range species, at least five out of 48 Biome-5 species, 49 out of 112 Biome-7 species, 38 out of 96 Biome-8 species and three out of 19 Biome-9 species are found (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2003). Other bird species include the biome-restricted Mountain Imperial Pigeon Ducula badia, Slaty-headed Parakeet Psittacula himalayana, Red-winged crested Cuckoo Calamator coromandus, Large Green-billed Malkoha Phaenicophaeus tristis, Blue-naped Pitta Pitta nipalensis, Orange-bellied Chloropsis Chloropsis hardwickii, Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii, and Spotted Forktail Enicurus maculatus. The Nepal House Martin Delichon nipalensis nests under school roofs while the Common Swallow annually returns to nest in four shops in the heart of Gangtok (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2003).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Over 50 species of mammals have been reported from the Sanctuary. Important ones are the Chinese Pangolin Manis pentadactyla, Red Panda Ailurus fulgens Leopard-Cat Prionailurus bengalensis, Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus and Hodgson’s Flying Squirrel Petaurista magnificus (Anon. 2002). Glass Snake/ Lizard Ophiosaurus gracilis has also been seen here (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2002).

Key contributor: Usha Lachungpa.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary - Himalayan Zoological Park - Ratey Chu Reserve Forest. Downloaded from on 30/09/2023.