Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 49,246 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
Bhadra Tiger Reserve is situated in the Malnad region of Karnataka, about 50 km east of the Western Ghats (Karanth 1982) in Chikmagalur and Shimoga districts. An imposing outspur of the Western Ghats called Bababudan or Bababudangiri hill range rises abruptly from the Deccan plateau, forming a rough crescent. Inside the ‘crater’ formed by them, the terrain is gently undulating (670-760 m) but the hills reach up to 1,200-1,500 m. One of these peaks, called Mullaiahna Giri is, at 1,900 m, the highest in Karnataka (Karanth 1982). Inside the ‘crater,’ another chain of hills called Kagemane Giri (= crow’s house mountain, in Kannada) further divide the valley. The Wildlife Sanctuary essentially comprises the Muthodi area lying inside the crescent and Lakkavalli area spread on the northern outer slopes of Bababudans (Karanth 1982). The Bhadra river and its tributaries, namely Somavahini, Thadabehalla and Odirayanahalla, drain the Reserve. A dam has been constructed across the Bhadra river near Lakkavalli, forming a vast c. 200 sq. km reservoir whose backwaters extend nearly 13 km inwards and lap the foot of the hill ranges (Karanth 1982). In addition to these major water sources, there are numerous seasonal and perennial streams. A part of the Reserve was declared as the Jagara Valley WLS by the Government of Mysore in 1951, covering an area of 20,059 ha. After a systematic survey and census of the entire area for animals, birds and plants, it was decided to increase the area under the Jagara Valley Sanctuary. The adjacent area reconstituted in 1974 as Bhadra WLS covering 49,246 ha, as per Section 18 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, Bhadra was brought under Project Tiger in 1998 (Jain 2001). The forests of the valley floor and northern outer slopes are of wet deciduous type. The inner slopes are covered by sholas (Southern Montane Wet Temperate forests) interrupted by grassy downs (Southern Montane Wet Grassland). On the outer edges of Lakkavalli area, the forests tend to intergrade into Dry Deciduous type. On the whole, Muthodi area is wetter and more verdant than Lakkavalli (Karanth 1982). More than 120 species of trees have been identified in the Reserve.The important trees of the site include Tectona grandis, Terminalia tomentosa, T. paniculata, Pterocarpus marsupium, Ficus sp., Dillenia sp. and Lagerstroemia lanceolata. Dendrocalamus strictus and Bambusa arundinacea (bamboo) form the under-canopy (Karanth 1982). Where the canopy is closed, the forest floor is carpeted with wild ginger (Globba sp.). and where it is more open, the weed Eupatorium has spread. Low-lying areas of the valley floor are often marshy glades (locally called Hadlus), clothed with luxuriant growth of grasses.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary is extremely rich in flora and fauna, but unfortunately no detailed work on birds has been done there. Based on short bird watching surveys and visits, more than 100 species of birds have been identified from this IBA (Anand Prasad in litt. 2003), including the threatened Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon Columba elphinstonii. Of the 16 restricted range species of the Western Ghats (Stattersfield et al. 1998), seven have been recorded. Similarly, of the 15 Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forest) species identified by BirdLife International (undated), 12 have been seen in Bhadra, making it a very important bird area of India. In the shallow backwaters of the Bhadra reservoir, Near Threatened species such as Darter Anhinga melanogaster and Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus can be seen, along with more common birds such as cormorants, egrets, herons, ducks and kingfishers.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Bhadra was established mainly for the protection of large mammals such as the Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Tiger Panthera tigris and Leopard P. pardus and Gaur Bos frontalis. According to Karanth (1982), Gaur is the pride of Bhadra. Ecological suitability of the habitat, coupled with the isolation of this area, and freedom from outbreaks of Rinderpest disease in 1968 (which decimated Gaur populations in many sanctuaries), seems to be the cause of their relative abundance.

There could be around 1,000 Gaurs in Bhadra.

Other mammals with fair populations are Chital or Spotted Deer Axis axis, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Mouse Deer Moschiola meminna, Indian Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica and Large Brown Flying Squirrel Petaurista petaurista. Wild Dog Cuon alpinus is found all over the Park (Karanth 1982). Wild Boar Sus scrofa and Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus are known. Otter Lutra sp. is reported from Bhadra reservoir (Karanth 1982). Bhadra lies in the known distribution range of the elusive Rusty-spotted Cat Prionailurus rubiginosus.

Reptiles such as Marsh Crocodile Crocodylus palustris, Common Indian Monitor Lizard Varanus bengalensis, Indian Rock Python Python molurus, King Cobra Ophiophagus hannah, Russell’s Viper Daboia russelii and Bamboo Pit Viper Trimeresurus gramineus occur in the Sanctuary.

Key contributors: Ameen Ahmed and Nature Conservation Foundation.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 25/06/2022.