Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary and Girijapur Barrage

Country/territory: India

IBA Criteria met: A1 (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 40,069 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2003 high not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in northeastern Uttar Pradesh, bordering the international boundary with Nepal, in the Bahraich Division, and covers an area of about 40,069 ha. It supports diverse vegetation and this accounts for the high faunal diversity. It is the only protected area in Uttar Pradesh with a population of wild, free ranging rhinos Rhinoceros unicornis (while in the nearby Dudhwa NP, also an IBA, they have been reintroduced). The Wildlife Sanctuary is a part of the terai landscape and has a weak link with Dudhwa National Park on the western side, Bardia National Park (Nepal) on the northern side and Chakia forest Range of Bahraich Forest Division to the east. Given the highly threatened status of the terai ecosystem, it is very important that top priority is given to strengthening these corridors. The Sanctuary has contiguous reserved forest areas on the southern side. According to the Management Plan, the entire Sanctuary has been termed as the core area. However, the thoroughfare provided by the road and the railway line that pass through the heart of the Sanctuary is leading to high level of disturbance. The Girijapuri reservoir holds considerable numbers of wintering waterfowl. Girwa River runs through the reserve. The vegetation of Katerniaghat is very similar to Dudhwa National Park, although much fragmented. It has moist Bhabar and dry plain forest of Shorea robusta, eastern seasonal swamp forest, low alluvial savanna woodland, aegle forest and Khair-Sissoo forest. Syzygium and Trewia nudiflora dominate the riparian forest. There are extensive areas under seasonal floods, dominated by tall wet grasslands of Phragmites karka and Arundo donax. Such areas remain under water for 3-5 months. The upland grasslands, which do not get flooded, are dominated by Saccharum munja, Imperata cylindrica and Desmostachya bipinnata. Nearly 30 years ago, most of the dry grasslands were planted with Tectona grandis, Dalbergia sissoo, Bombax ceiba and Eucalyptus by the Forest Department. These plantations are now ripe for harvesting of timber, and restoration of natural grasslands.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: More than 280 species are reported from the Sanctuary (Rahmani 1995 Unpubl.). The Girijapuri reservoir with its large waterspread attracts thousands of waterfowl, the number would easily exceed 20,000. Perhaps the best-known wintering population of Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus in Uttar Pradesh occurs in Girijapuri reservoir. Between 80-120 could be seen in the reservoir itself. Other prominent waterfowl in the reservoir include Brahminy Duck Tadorna ferruginea, Red-crested Pochard Rhodonessa rufina and Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica. In 2000-2001, Critically Endangered Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps benghalensis was found nesting along the Girwa river, mainly on Terminalia tomentosa and Bombax malabarica trees, but subsequently, many nests had dead birds, victims of diclofenac, a veterinary drug. The grasslands of Katerniaghat WLS had Bengal floricans till 1970s (Arjan Singh pers. comm. 2000) but none were seen by Rahmani et al. (1991) during surveys between 1985 and 1991, or subsequently. However, in March 2001, B. C. Choudhury (pers. comm. 2002) of the Wildlife Institute of India saw two male floricans. Later, in May, during another survey, no Bengal Florican could be located (Rahmani 2001). Nevertheless, Katerniaghat remains a potential habitat for this highly endangered species. A nest of Pallas’s Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus near Girija Barrage is under use for the last 15 years (A. R. Rahmani pers. obs. 2002). Islands in the Girwa river are important nesting grounds for River Tern Sterna aurantia and Small Pratincole Glareola lactea. BirdLife International (undated) has identified 13 species of Biome-12 (Indo-Gangetic Plains), of which five have been seen in Katerniaghat till now. The grasslands of Katerniaghat have been given Prioirity I for conservation (Rahmani and Islam 2000).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Katerniaghat WLS was established to protect and rehabilitate the Gharial Gavialis gangeticus and Marsh Crocodile Crocodylus palustris. For more than 25 years, it had a crocodile breeding centre, which has been dismantled now due to successful rehabilitation of crocodiles (D. Basu pers. comm. 2002). Katerniaghat has been listed as a Priority I grassland considering the conservation requirements of the following endangered species: Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard P. pardus, Sloth bear Melursus ursinus, Swamp Deer Cervus duvauceli duvauceli, and Hog deer Cervus porcinus, Swamp francolin and other grassland birds (Rahmani and Islam 2000). The One-horned Rhinoceros has dispersed from the Royal Bordia National Park of Nepal to Katerniaghat.

Key contributors: Asad R. Rahmani, V. P. Singh and Dhananjay Mohan.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary and Girijapur Barrage. Downloaded from on 30/11/2022.