Hanle Plains (Hanle River marshes)

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 8,000 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
These marshes are located west and north of Hanle village in Ladakh, near the border with China. They are partly state owned and partly under the Hanle Buddhist monastery. The habitat is a complex of fast flowing streams, stagnant pools, saline marshes, seasonally flooded marshes, and bogs along the Hanle river, 45 km south of its confluence with the Indus river. The wetlands are frozen from November to April and are fed by snowmelt in summer. The freshwater pools shelter species such as Hydrilla, Myriophyllum, Potamogeton, and an edible aquatic lichen

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: The area is an important breeding ground for various waterfowl including the Black-necked crane Grus nigricollis. There is a recent report of three breeding pairs of Black-necked crane in the Hanle marshes and one in Lal Pahri (Rauf Zargar pers. comm. 2003). This site is also an important breeding area for the Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea and the Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus. During autumn migration many birds pass through this site, including the globally threatened Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga. It uses the plain as the last staging site before crossing the Himalayan range (Pfister 2001).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The slopes above Hanle plain are an important habitat of Tibetan Wild Ass or Kiang Equus kiang. In 1995-96 the first Tibetan Gazelle Procapra picticaudata was seen here after 35 years of regional extinction. The Tibetan Wolf Canis lupus chanco and Red Fox Vulpes vulpes are also found. Besides, Weasel Mustela sp. Blue Sheep or Bharal Pseudois nayaur, Argali Ovis ammon, Marmot Marmota sp and Woolly hare Lepus oiostolus are commonly found.

Key contributors: Otto Pfister and Rauf Zargar.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Hanle Plains (Hanle River marshes). Downloaded from on 20/10/2021.