Dombang Valley - Lachung - Lema - Tsungthang

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 60,000 ha

Protection status:

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

Site description
This is a large IBA on village land, Forest Department land and land under the control of the army and GREF. The total area could be more than 60,000 ha. Starting from the small township of Tsungthang, there are small hamlets at Bop, Maltin, Khedum, Lema, Lachung, Sharchok and Dombang along the Lachung river in North Sikkim. Lachung is the northernmost frontier village in this Valley. Hence, there is heavy army deployment in the area. This IBA is subjected to seasonal grazing by livestock such as highland cows, yak and horses. From subtropical Tsungthang to temperate Dombang Valley with hamlets and villages along Lachung Chu and forest patches under-planted with Large Cardamom Ammomum subulatum, there are mostly village lands with subsistence cultivation. The Mixed Coniferous Forests of Hemlock, Spruce, Pine, Fir and Junipers with shrubby undergrowth of Rhododendron and Arundinaria at Dombang give way to open Alder Alnus nipalensis towards Tsungthang. The degraded areas are overtaken by the ubiquitous Eupatorium an exotic invasive weed locally called ‘Ban-Mara’ or ‘Forest Killer’.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: A full checklist of this site is not available but the bird records maintained by U. Lachungpa (pers. comm. 2002) show that this area could have significant populations of Vulnerable Beautiful Nuthatch Sitta formosa and Wood Snipe Gallinago nemoricola. The site lies in Eastern Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (EBA 130) where Stattersfield et al. (1998) have identified 21 restricted range species. Only one such species, White-naped Yuhina Yuhina bakeri has been noticed till now (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2002), but looking at the extent of pristine habitat still available in this site, more restricted range species are likely to be found here. This complex, with wide altitudinal variation, basically lies in Biome-7 (Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest), but avian elements of Biome-5 (Eurasian High Montane - Alpine and Tibetan) and Biome-8 (Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest) are also found as these biomes merge with Biome-7, and secondly, many birds show seasonal altitudinal movement. Seventeen out of the 48 species listed in Biome-5 (BirdLife International, undated) are found in this site. Similarly, 47 out of 112 species listed in Biome-7 are found here. As this site also has Montane Mixed Broadleaf- Coniferous Forest, Broadleaf Evergreen Forest and Deciduous Forest, many species of Biome-8 are also found here. Thus, this site perhaps has the most numerous biome restricted species among all the sites of Sikkim. The important birds of the valley are Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis, Wood Snipe Gallinago nemoricola, Snow Pigeon Columba leuconota, Grandala Grandala coelicolor, Plain Mountain-Finch Leucosticte nemoricola and Hill Partridge Arborophila torqueola. A specimen of Tibetan Horned Owl (Eurasian Eagle-Owl) Bubo bubo from Lema was collected and deposited with BNHS (Ganguli-Lachungpa 2002).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Notable mammals are Yellow-throated Marten Martes flavigula, Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis, Spotted Linsang Prionodon pardicolor, Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus, Goral Nemorhaedus goral, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Weasels Mustela spp., Orange-bellied Squirrel Dremomys lokriah and Himalayan Palm Civet Paguma larvata. The Himalayan Pit Viper Gloydius himalayanus and other herpetofauna found in this IBA need further study.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Dombang Valley - Lachung - Lema - Tsungthang. Downloaded from on 21/09/2019.