Basai wetlands

Country/territory: India

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4i, A4iii (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 100 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
Basai wetlands are located close to Delhi, about 2 km west of Gurgaon and 8 km east of Sultanpur National Park, in Haryana state. One of the outstanding features of the site is the relative tameness of the birds that utilize it. The main source of water is from a breached water channel bringing waste water and supposedly treated sewage from the Gurgaon Water and Sewage Works. This has created a permanent shallow wetland of about 250 acres comprising open water, Water Hyacinth and Typha reed beds. Rain water and the channeling of the water by farmers to irrigate their crops (particularly rice) regularly floods an area of up to 1 sq. km in the monsoon. Paspalum sp. grows extensively, and is cut for fodder by villagers. This provides an ideal grazing sward for a significant flock of wintering Bar-headed Geese Anser indicus. There are several bare, salt-laden fallow fields and some low thorn scrub. Along the railway line, borrow pits have formed small ponds and reed beds. Gurgaon Water and Sewage Works have recently constructed a deep-water reservoir close to the Ashram on the Sultanpur road, which now attracts diving duck, cormorants and grebes. The core area is predominantly covered with Water Hyacinth, large Typha reed beds and some fields of Paspalum grass. Adjoining it are areas of poor agricultural land, given over seasonally to rice, wheat and mustard. There is also infertile fallow land with Salicornia and Acacia scrub, particularly in the borrow pits. There are very few trees, but they include fruiting figs near the Temple and the Ashram. The members of the Delhi Bird Club regularly monitor the bird population of this IBA. Bird ringing camps, with the collaboration of BNHS, are organized twice a year.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: The Basai wetlands harbour a rich avifauna; no less than 239 species have been recorded since February 2001. In 5 days in September 2001, 154 species of birds were recorded during a BNHS bird ringing camp. Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris, Sarus Crane Grus antigone, Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina hastate and Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni are threatened species that have been recorded at the site. Near Threatened species include the Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus, Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala, Black-headed Ibis or Oriental White Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus, Asian Dowitcher Limnodromus semipalmatus and Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus. A Black-necked Stork pair breeds in the vicinity of Basai. It was seen with juvenile in the year 2001 (B. Harvey pers. comm. 2002). At its peak, the wintering Bar-headed Goose flock has reached 1,100, while the peak spring and autumn passage brings up to 5,000 ducks of 18 species and 10,000 waders of 36 species. Number of many species is much above the 1% threshold estimated by Wetlands International (2002). For example, the 1% biogeographic threshold of Bar-headed Goose is 560, while at Basai, almost double this number have been seen. Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis exceed 1,000 in certain months and breed in Basai village. Flocks of Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus and Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio regularly exceed 200 birds. The latter together with Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis, Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus and Yellow Bittern I. sinensis breed in the reedbeds. Unusual wintering species include Water Rail Rallus aquaticus and Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris while Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla and Moustached Warblers Acrocephalus melanopogon winter in numbers significant for NW India and may even breed. There is a winter roost of several thousand Yellow wagtails Motacilla flava and Citrine Wagtails M. citreola. The Sind Sparrow Passer pyrrhonotus (a recent colonist of Haryana) has recently been sighted in this roost in September (B. Harvey pers. comm. 2003). The Basai wetlands easily fit A1 (Threatened Species) and A4i (1% population threshold) criteria. Although, at one time, it may not have = 20,000 waterbirds (A4iii criteria), much more than 20,000 birds use this IBA in a year. The Basai wetlands have also shown that with protection, even a sewage waterspread could attract thousands of waterbirds. This is particularly important as most of natural shallow wetlands of the Gangetic plains have been drained for cultivation or polluted and we need to create new wetlands and restore the natural ones.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: A breeding herd of up to 14 Nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus is regularly seen, whereas Indian Mongoose Herpestes edwardsii and Jungle Cat Felis chaus commonly occur. There are numerous water snakes and amphibians in the permanent swamps.

Key contributors: Bill Harvey, Nikhil Devasar and members of the Delhibird Club.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Basai wetlands. Downloaded from on 22/03/2023.