INS - Shivaji and adjoining areas, Lonavla

Year of compilation: 2004

Site description (baseline)
INS Shivaji, established in 1945, is a premier training base of the Indian Navy located about 6 km west of Lonavla town, a popular tourist resort in the Sahyadri Hills. Lonavala (650 m) is situated c. 120 km from Mumbai on the main road and rail link with Pune. The presence of this defence establishment, spread over 1,500 acres, has served to protect some valuable original tropical moist/semievergreen forest and upland grassland habitats of the area against growing urbanisation and development. Inaccessible valleys to the west of Lonavla still hold good expanses of the original moist tropical and semi-evergreen forest. The surrounding hills provide very good upland grassland habitats during the post monsoon months. The area beyond Khandala towards Duke’s Nose hill and extending towards the Tiger’s Leap ravine along the top of the ridges, and up to 2 km on either side of the ridges is proposed as an IBA. The area is typical of the Western Ghats, with evergreen and moist deciduous type vegetation and high diversity of plant species. The carnivorous plant Utricularia sp. is common in small springs, which play an important role in ecology and nitrogen cycle. Karvi Carvia callosa is a dominant plant species on the hill slopes. Other tree species Kumbha Careya arborea, Anjani Memecylon umbellatum, Nirgudi Vitex nigundo and Ranperu Randia dumetorum are commonly found here. Some medicinal plants such as Dhyati Woodfordia fruticosa, Ashwagandha Withania somnifera and Jungli Kanda Vernonia cinerea are also found here.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: The birds of INS Shivaji and its adjoining areas were studied from September 11 to November 10, 2002, and during a short visit earlier between March, 12 to 14, 2002. A total of 225 species were recorded during this period. The steep cliff facing towards the west of INS Shivaji has a sizeable nesting population of the Longbilled Vulture, Gyps indicus, a Critically Endangered species. Flocks up to 20 birds were regularly seen. Two juvenile birds were seen on cliff ledges on many occasions in September 2002, indicating successful breeding. One pair of Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus and three pairs of Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus also inhabit these cliffs. The sighting of the Nilgiri Pipit Anthus nilghiriensis on the hill slopes (c. 900-1,000 m), overgrown with post-monsoon coarse grass, is particularly interesting, and possibly the first confirmed record so far north of its range in the southern Western Ghats (Per Alstrom pers. comm. 2002). Eight out of 16 restricted range species of the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area (EBA 123) and six out of 15 Biome-10 species are found in this IBA site. Tytler’s Leafwarbler Rhylloscopus tytleri is also recorded from this area (K. B. Singh, pers. comm. 2003). During the study period, a male Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) was also seen on two occasions, indicating the presence of a small isolated population, hundreds of kilometres from the limit of its main geographical range. Possibly, they were introduced or are escaped birds. Ali and Ripley (1987) mentioned that Charles McCann had seen them in the outliers of Western Ghats near Bombay. The Red Junglefowl has also been reported from Khandala, which is near Lonavala. Grimmett et al. (1998) have shown this area in the distribution map of Red Junglefowl. The Grey Jungle Fowl (Gallus sonneratii) is particularly common here. Also interesting was the sighting of the Rusty-rumped Warbler (Locustella certhiola) on two occasions, perhaps the first record of the species from Maharashtra. This is a winter visitor mainly to West Bengal, Assam, Bangldesh, and there are some records in central India (Ali and Ripley 1987). Near Threatened species such as the Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala, Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus, Darter Anhinga melanogaster, Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus and Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera are regulars in the water bodies and cultivation. The site lies in Biome-10 and is represented by the bird species of Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forest. However, many species of other biomes are also found here. For example, Tickell’s Thrush Turdus unicolor and Blue-headed Rock-Thrush Monticola cinclorhynchus of the Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest and Tickell’s Warbler Phylloscopus affinis of the Eurasian High Montane winter here. Over 30 species of Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone (Biome-11) commonly seen here further add to the richness of the avifauna.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Leopard Panthera pardus is the major predator, still found in this area and surrounding jungles. Its main natural prey is the Bonnet Macaque Macaca radiata, but it also subsists on cattle and stray dogs.

Among the reptiles, Uropeltid snakes are common. This site has many endangered amphibian species such as the Bombay Bush Frog Philautus bombayensis and Humayun’s Wrinkled Frog Nyctibatrachus humayuni. Indotyphlus battersbyi, an endangered and endemic caecilian, inhabits the area (Varad Giri pers. comm.).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: Deforestation; Roads and railways; Land development.

The richness and diversity of this area has been preserved to a large extent due to the strategic presence of a defence establishment, which has served as a bulwark to protect the habitat against the immense pressures of urbanization, tourism and development. The Mumbai-Pune corridor is on fast track to development. Severe pressures will therefore continue to play havoc with the original pristine habitats unless conservation measures are initiated at the earliest.

Key contributor: Lt. Commd. Kanwar Bir Singh.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: INS - Shivaji and adjoining areas, Lonavla. Downloaded from on 04/06/2023.