Ghatigaon Bustard Sanctuary

Site description (2004 baseline):

Site location and context
The Ghatigaon Bustard Sanctuary in Gwalior district was established specially to protect the Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps, but the habitat selected (thick dry deciduous forest and hilly, undulating terrain) was not suitable for this species which prefers plains with short grasses. Eight to ten bustards were seen in a flat area near Ghatigaon village. However, the most important area, Tigra, was not included in the Sanctuary. Even now in Tigra, some bustards are surviving. Ghatigaon Bustard Sanctuary is located c. 20 km from Gwalior, off the Agra-Mumbai national highway. The Sanctuary gets its name from Ghatigaon village, which is the headquarters of the Sanctuary. The vegetation comprises Mixed Dry Deciduous Forest, with Anogeissus, Acacia, Zizyphus and Butea as the dominant genera.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: In the early 1980s, 15 to 18 Great Indian Bustards were found in the Sanctuary (Rahmani and Manakadan 1988). They were mainly seen in Kalitalai (near Ghatigaon village) and the Tigra dam area near Gwalior. However, the present population is estimated at not more than 5 birds. As in Karera Bustard Sanctuary, the bustard is likely to become extinct in Ghatigaon in another 2-3 years, because no concerted efforts are made by the Forest Department to arrest this unfortunate decline. There is no data on other bird life of this Sanctuary.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Ghatigaon is a large sanctuary, generally forested and suitable for species such as Sambar Cervus unicolor, Chital Axis axis, Nilgai or Bluebul Boselaphus tragocamelus and Chinkara Gazella bennettii. Blackbuck Antilope cervicapra is found in flat areas such as Kalitalai. Grey Wolf Canis lupus, Golden Jackal Canis aureus and Indian Fox Vulpes bengalensis are found in the area.

Leopard Panthera pardus and Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena are the large predators.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: Mismanagement of habitat; Lack of interest on the part of Government; Overgrazing during the bustard breeding season; Expansion of human habitation.

Despite its proximity to Gwalior Forest Division, Ghatigaon Bustard Sanctuary is totally neglected with practically no concern for the fate of the remnant Great Indian Bustard population. During intensive studies on this species in Karera (Rahmani 1989, Rahmani and Manakadan 1988) specific management plans were made to protect the habitat of the bustard. The recommendations were personally discussed with forest officials many times, sometimes in the field. However, no action was taken by the concerned authorities to maintain the grassland habitat in Kalitalai near Ghatigaon, where bustards were regularly found. It was strongly recommended that the vast open areas near Tigra Dam, where the bustard used to breed, should be added to the Sanctuary and effective habitat protection provided during the breeding period. However, no attempt was made to take such initiatives, and it is now too late. There is a proposal to expand Gwalior city towards the Tigra dam site, and as a consequence the last bustard habitat would be lost forever.

Key contributor: Asad R. Rahmani.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Ghatigaon Bustard Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 29/02/2024.