Interview Island Wildlife Sanctuary

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 13,387 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
Interview Island Sanctuary is the largest island sanctuary in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Gandhi 2000). It is situated southwest of North Andaman and is separated by c. 20 km of sea from Mayabunder, a township in North Andaman. There is no permanent human habitation on the island, except a police outpost on the West Coast and a forest labour shed on the East Coast. Near the beach at the south of the island, there is a perennial freshwater stream inside a cave. White-bellied Swiftlets Collocalia esculenta have made their nests in the cavern around the pool (Pande et al. 1991). The terrain is almost flat, except for steep, rugged hills towards the southeast. The major vegetation types are Andaman Tropical Evergreen, Andaman Semi-Evergreen, Littoral and Mangrove. Semievergreen forest is dominated by Sterculia campanulata, Dipterocarpus alatus, Artocarpus lakoocha, A. chaplasha and Pterocarpus dalbergioides (Sivaganesan and Kumar 1994). Of the total area of 13,100 ha, only about 7,100 ha is covered by semi-evergreen forest, the remaining area harbours mangroves and littoral forests.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Interview Island is one of the last refuges for the endemic and endangered Andaman Teal Anas gibberifrons albogularis, a subspecies of Grey Teal. Although A. gibberifrons is not listed as Threatened by BirdLife International (2001), the subspecies albogularis is highly endangered and of great conservation concern in India. Lalitha Vijayan has conducted studies on this bird and estimates a population between 500 to 600 individuals (Vijayan and Sankaran 2000). Sighting of 46 Andaman Teal in Interview Island WLS indicates that this IBA is very important for the survival of this subspecies. Recently, Rasmussen and Anderton (in press) have upgraded Andaman Teal to species level, and named it Anas albogularis. If this classification is accepted, this site becomes much more important for the survival of Andaman Teal than was realized earlier (when it was considered only a subspecies of the widely distributed Grey Teal). Nearly 6-8% of the total global population of Anas albogularis is found at this site. Other species, not of global conservation concern but extremely important from the India’s point of view, are the White-bellied Swiftlets Collocalia esculenta and the Edible-nest Swiftlets C. fuciphaga. Both species nest in the caves complex on Interview Island. Around 2,000 adult birds of the latter species are found. This is the most important cave complex for swiftlet conservation in the Andaman Islands (Sankaran 1998). Of the 12 extant Restricted Range bird species listed by BirdLife International from the Endemic Bird Area of Andaman Islands (Stattersfield et al. 1998), nine species are found in this IBA. Only Andaman Crake Rallina canningi is listed in the Threatened category, the other species being Near Threatened (BirdLife International 2001). The Andaman Crake, a marsh bird, has a small population, narrow range of distribution and is extremely difficult to observe. Perhaps it is not so rare as it was thought to be, but its habitat is under tremendous biotic pressures (Vijayan and Sankaran 2000). Nearly, 100 years ago, it was abundant and easily snared. Many specimens were collected from Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Andaman Hawk Owl Ninox affinis is endemic to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where it occurs in mangrove forest, light wooded country and forest clearings (Grimmett et al. 1998). Its tolerance of degraded habitats raises the hope that it may not be so uncommon as it is feared to be. Sankaran (1998) frequently sighted it between January and March 1996 at the southern tip of the Great Nicobar (another IBA). He found it to be very parochial, and noted that a pair regularly occupied a particular perch at dusk. A study of its ecology and status is urgently required.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The island has rich coral formations with associated species such as giant clams and reef dwelling fish. About 70 feral Asian Elephants Elephas maximus are reported on Interview Island (Sivaganesan and Kumar 1994). The elephants were brought from the mainland in the early 1960s for timber operations and abandoned when the timber company went bankrupt. At that time there were 40 elephants, which were supposed to have increased to 70, but in a more recent study by Ali and Krishnan (2001), the number is estimated between 30-35. Both these studies have recommended the removal of the feral elephants to save the natural forest. Interestingly, Interview Island Sanctuary was declared in 1985 mainly to protect these very same feral elephants! Other introduced mammals include the Spotted Deer Axis axis, Common Palm Civet Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, Domestic Cat Felis catus, Dog Canis familiaris, Goat Capra hircus and Three-striped Palm Squirrel Funambulus palmarum. The Andaman Wild Pig Sus scrofa andamanensis and Andaman Masked Palm Civet Paguma larvata tytleri are also present (Sivaganesan and Kumar 1994).

Key contributors: Ravi Sankaran, K. Sivakumar, Tara Gandhi and Rauf Ali.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Interview Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 04/02/2023.