Barail Range

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 80,000 ha

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

Site description (2004 baseline)
The Barail Range forms one of the most diverse, but lesser known, ecosystems of the region. The great altitudinal variations (from less than 100 m to towering peaks of more than 1,900 m) and the resultant diversity of vegetation, coupled with a rich faunistic composition, makes the area an ideal choice for a wildlife reserve and an IBA. The Barail is the highest hill range in Assam. It includes the North Cachar Hill Reserve Forest (RF) of Cachar district, Barail RF of Cachar and North Cachar Hills districts and the unclassified forests stretching from the Simleng river valley in the west to Laike in the east (in North Cachar Hills district). The Barail Range is the watershed between the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers. The terrain ranges from flat and undulating in the river valleys, to mountainous with steep slopes. The highest peak is 1,959 m near Laike, while Hamplopet (1,867 m) is the second highest, both of which are outside reserve forests. The climate is tropical monsoon type. The Barail forests are biologically important, with a number of endangered species (Choudhury 1993). Hill rivers and streams such as the Simleng (Luva), Jatinga and Modhura rivers are the main water sources, along with an unrecorded number of nullahs that feed the rivers. The annual rainfall varies from 2,000 mm to more than 6,000 mm. The westernmost part of the range receives the heaviest rainfall in Assam (Choudhury 1993). The undulating foothills in the south and the plains beyond have been extensively converted to tea gardens and settled cultivation, respectively. The main secondary landscape elements are cultivated flatland, extensive bamboo brakes, tree plantations (Teak Tectona grandis, Sal Shorea robusta), secondary and disturbed forest (betel-vine plantation), and village gardens including Arecanut Palm plantations. Vegetation is Tropical Evergreen at low elevations (below 1,000 m), Semi-evergreen in the areas of human disturbance, and Sub- Tropical Broadleaf in the upper reaches (>1,800 m). Champion and Seth (1968) classified it as Cachar Tropical Evergreen Forest, Cachar Tropical Semi-evergreen Forest and Subtropical Broadleaf Hill Forest. The undisturbed riparian patches are rich in palms and canes. Large patches of Wild banana occur in the openings of moist forest and along waterways.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: This site was selected as an IBA based on its exceptionally rich bird life, including many threatened species. The high avian diversity of the Barails was documented long ago (Baker 1922- 30, Hume 1877, 1880). The only known population of Blyth’s Tragopan Tragopan blythii in Assam is in the extreme east of the Barails near Laike. The only known breeding site of the Cinereus Vulture Aegypius monarch tenuirostris in Assam was also in the Barails. The Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus is seen in the southern valleys, while there are past records of the Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis from the southwestern fringe (Choudhury 2000). The site covers two biomes: Biome-8 (Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forests) at c. 1,000 to 2,000 m and Biome-9 (Indo- Chinese Tropical Moist Forest) mainly below c. 1,000 m. BirdLife International (undated) has listed 95 species in Biome-8, of which nine are found here. Two out of nine species listed in Biome-9 are also present. Both are quite common in the Tropical Moist Forests. As can be expected, some species of other biomes are also found, mainly as winter migrants. For example, Grey-backed Shrike Lanius tephronotus (Biome-5: Eurasian High Montane and Tibetan) is seen in winter, while Hill Partridge Arborophila torqueola is seen at the higher reaches of this site.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The Barail Range has rich mammalian fauna. Seven species of primates are found, these are: Slow Loris Nycticebus coucang, Stump-tailed Macaque Macaca arctoides, Assamese Macaque M. assamensis, Rhesus Macaque M. mulatta, Pigtailed Macaque M. nemestrina, Capped Langur Trachypithecus pileatus and Hoolock Gibbon Hylobates hoolock. Other mammals include the Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus, Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard P. pardus, Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa, Jungle Cat Felis chaus, Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis, Golden Cat Catopuma temminckii, Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata, Wild Dog Cuon alpinus, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Muntjak Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Wild Boar Sus scrofa, Binturong Arctictis binturong and the Serow Nemorhaedus sumatraensis. Small populations of Gaur Bos frontalis also occur. Asian Elephant Elephas maximus is locally extinct now. Common reptiles include various species of lizards and snakes throughout the site. The Brown Hill Tortoise Manouria emys is also met with occasionally.

Key contributors: Anwaruddin Choudhury, Aysegul Birand and Samrat Pawar.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Barail Range. Downloaded from on 26/02/2024.