Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 98,700 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2003 not assessed high not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2004 baseline)
Anamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, also called Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over an area of 98,700 ha. On its western side lies the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary (an IBA) of Kerala which covers 28,500 ha. The inter-state boundary between Tamil Nadu and Kerala separates the two protected areas administratively, but ecologically there is no barrier. The terrain is largely hilly with altitude varying from 350 m to 2,500 m. The Anamalai Hills cover an area of about 2,00,000 ha in the Western Ghats. Between the Anamalai Hills in the south and the Nilgiri Plateau in the north, is a 25 km wide stretch of flat land called the Palghat Gap, which has been an important biogeographic barrier for certain birds and other taxa. This isolation from the northern ranges has resulted in speciation in many plant and animal groups in the Anamalai Hills (Rodgers and Panwar 1988). The altitudinal range (<150 m to >2500 m) has led to a variety of habitats. Due to these factors, Anamalai Hills have assumed special conservation importance. Protected areas cover three-quarters of the total area of Anamalai Hills, of which Anamalai and Parambikulam Sanctuaries form more than 80%. The vegetation can be divided into five broad categories: Tropical Evergreen Rainforest, Tropical Montane Forest, Grassland and Moist Dry Deciduous Forest. Important plant species include Michelia nilagirica, Rhododendron arboreum, Cymbopogon sp., Terminalia-Anogeissus-Tectona grandis series, pure stands of Bambusa arundinacea and Dendrocalamus strictus. Monocultures include plantations of tea Thea sinensis, coffee Coffee arabica, Cinchona cinchona sp., rubber Ficus sp. and teak Tectona grandis which surround this IBA.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: From 1991 to 1993, in a bird survey in Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, a total of 218 bird species were recorded. Of these, 12 were endemic and 75 were typical rainforest species (Kannan 1998, Raman 2001). In a recent study that was confined to two ranges (Ulandy and Pollachi) of this IBA, 139 species were recorded, of which 10 are restricted range and three are Vulnerable (Sivakumaran and Rahmani 2002) The Vulnerable Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon Columba elphinstonii, and Near Threatened Great Pied Hornbill Buceros bicornis are breeding residents in the Sanctuary, mainly in Kariyan-Shola, Anaikunthy-Shola, Varagalaiyar, and Vanathiar-Shola of Ulandy Range, and the other ranges such as Valparai and Manjam Patty. Ceylon Frogmouth Batrachostomus moniliger, an uncommon species, breeds in Kariyan-Shola, and probably in other sholas also (Sivakumaran and Rahmani, 2002). Stattersfield et al. (1998) have listed 16 restricted range species in the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area. In this IBA site, 15 have been recorded till now (Raman 2001, Sivakumaran and Rahmani 2002). Except for the Nilgiri Laughingthrush Garrulax cachinnans, which is in any case not found south of the Palghat Gap (Ali and Ripley 1987, Grimmett et al. 1998), all the endemic birds of the Western Ghats were seen. This is one of the IBAs in the Western Ghats where every expected endemic has been found. Besides threatened species, this site also has five Near Threatened species. This IBA lies in the Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forest), according to the classification by BirdLife International (undated). Fifteen species have been listed in this biome, of which ten are found at this site.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The Anamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary and the Eravikulam National Park (both in Kerala), in conjunction with the adjacent forests form a vital conservation unit for many endangered large mammals including the Asian Elephant Elephas maximus and the Nilgiri Tahr Hemitragus hylocrius (Rodgers and Panwar 1988). Mishra and Johnsingh (1994) estimate between 560 and 680 Tahrs in Anamalai and Parambikulam Sanctuaries, and between 1,360 and 1,480 if we include Eravikulam also – this conservation unit contains approximately half of the existing population of Nilgiri Tahr in the wild. Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard Panthera pardus and Dhole or Wild Dog Cuon alpinus are the major predators of Tahr in the area. This area has a viable population of Gaur Bos frontalis.

Mammals endemic to the Western Ghats, besides the Nilgiri Tahr, include the Lion-tailed Macaque Macaca silenus, the Nilgiri Langur Trachypithecus johni, the Dusky-striped Squirrel Funambulus sublineatus, and the Travancore Flying Squirrel Petinomys fuscocapillus (Prater 1980; Ashraf et al. 1993).

Key contributors: Sajeev Kumar, Ajith Kumar and N. Sivakumaran.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park. Downloaded from on 26/09/2023.