Year of compilation: 2004
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.
The entire range does not have a single hectare under any protected area, although it was proposed for a national park (Choudhury 1989) as well as a biosphere reserve (Choudhury 1993), the latter covering about 790 sq. km. The area proposed for national park and biosphere reserve include the Barail and North Cachar Hill Reserve Forests and the unclassed state forests up to Mahur, Hamplopet and the Trans-Barail areas covering the catchment areas of the River Simleng (Luva). The hill slopes, especially outside the reserve forests, are getting degraded by jhum cultivation, tree felling and betel-vine plantation. The vines are planted after clearing the middle layer (shrubs) and understorey in mature forest, and are practiced by Khasi settlers. Sometimes banana is also cultivated in these plantations. The forest understorey is cleared right up to the hilltop in some places (Birand and Pawar 2001). Other major issues in the area are hunting or poaching of wildlife. The main tribes of the area are Hmar, Kuki, Jemi Naga, Khasi (Jaintia), Karbi and Dimasa Kachari.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Barail Range. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/05/2022.