Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary

Country/territory: India

IBA criteria met: A1, A2 (2004)
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Area: 21,651 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
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Site description (2004 baseline)
Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the flood plains of the River Torsa and other small rivers. It has large tracts of grasslands sustaining a small population of the One-horned rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis. The lofty snow clad ranges of the Himalaya loom in the background. A number of rivulets, the Torsa, Hollong, Chirakhawa, Kalijhora, Sissamora, Sanjoy and Bhaluka traverse the Sanctuary. The great diversity of vegetation and the network of rivers and rivulets have made this Sanctuary home to a rich variety of avifauna. The savanna and grassland of the Sanctuary supports tall grasses like Themada arundinacea, Saccharum narenga, S. arundinaceum, S. spontaneum, S. bengalense, Heteropogon contortus, Imperata cylindrica and Arundo donax. The forest on the western side consists of Dalbergia sissoo, Albizzia lebbek, Acacia catechu, Bombax ceiba and the eastern side is dominated by Sal forest Shorea robusta. The Sanctuary consists mainly of riverine forests, with grasslands or savanna, maintained by burning of grasslands periodically by the forest officials. About 20-30% of the Sanctuary bears tall grasses (Narayan et al. 1989).

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Jaldapara is one of the best areas in northern West Bengal where the tall, wet grassland of the Indo-Gangetic plains is still seen, thanks to the protection of this habitat for the sake of the Onehorned Rhinoceros. Despite the fact that Jaldapara is very popular among visitors, tourists and wildlifers, a systematic bird checklist is not available. According to the records of the Forest Department, 240 species of birds are known to occur here (Kumar 1998), but many species need confirmation. Kumar (1998) during his short trip saw 53 species from elephant back in the vicinity of Hollong Lodge, banks of Hollong river and the Peacock Avenue. According to Ali et al. (1985) Jaldapara was the last known locality for the Bengal florican Houbaropsis bengalensis in West Bengal. Narayan et al. (1989) estimated a population of up to 10 individuals in Jaldapara in the late 1980s. K. Mookherjee (in litt. 2001) has reported Black-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis flavirostris and Yellow Weaver or Finn’s Weaver Pleceus megarhyncha, two globally threatened birds. The presence of Parrotbill is perhaps the best indication that tall, dense terai grassland is still surviving. Yellow Weaver is also restricted to terai grasslands but the more open types, with tall trees for nesting (Ali and Ripley 1987). Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius, once fairly common in Jaldapara and all over West Bengal has drastically decreased and none has been sighted here for many years. This site is selected on the basis of the presence of a small population of the Bengal Florican, and tall wet grassland habitat that could be having viable populations of many grasslanddependent species. As the Sanctuary is well protected, despite being surrounded by dense human population, there are long-term chances of survival of many grassland birds.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Jaldapara is an important refuge for the One-horned Rhinoceros, whose present population stands at about 80. Earlier, its numbers appeared to have dwindled from an estimated 72 in 1964 (Spillett 1967) to 22 in 1980 (Chowdhuary and Ghosh 1984). Now the population is back to 75-80 animals, thanks to control on poaching.

Apart from this, a good population of Gaur Bos frontalis, a few Sloth Bears Melursus ursinus and good numbers of Wild Boar Sus scrofa, Indian Muntjak or Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Hog Deer Axis porcinus and Sambar Cervus unicolor are also present here. Leopard Panthera pardus and Asian Elephant Elephas maximus are very common, and sometimes one can see huge herds wandering in the Sanctuary. A small resident population of elephants is also seen throughout the year.

Recently, a small remnant population of Hispid Hare Caprolagus hispidus has been found by a BNHS scientist within Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary. It is the only population of this highly endangered species in the whole of north Bengal and the estimated number is around 30 (Maheswaran 2002). The whole Sanctuary, especially the tall grasslands, should be protected to save grasslanddependent species like the Bengal Florican and the Hispid hare.

Key contributor: G. Maheswaran.

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