Jarawa Reserve (Middle Andaman and South Andaman)

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 91,108 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
The Jarawa Reserve area extends in a long strip from Middle to South Andamans along the western coast. The area has been set aside for the Jarawas, an aboriginal Negrito tribe of hunter gatherers entirely dependent on the forest and marine resources for their existence (Gandhi 2000). Until recently, they were hostile and isolated from modern civilization, but now there is increasing contact. Rodgers and Panwar (1988) recommended that the site should be declared as a wildlife sanctuary, to allow the inhabitants to pursue their traditional way of life and to give a strong deterrent to any incompatible land use. The area was designated as the Tribal Reserve for Jarawas under the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, 1956. This area is characterized by the presence of different forest types including Evergreen, Moist Deciduous forests, mangroves, and large perennial freshwater streams, large freshwater marshes and the largest remaining stands of Nypa Palm Nypa fruticans (Andrews and Sankaran 2002).

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: The hostility of the Jarawas towards intruders in their territory has made it impossible to carry out detailed surveys of the flora and fauna of the reserve. Ravi Sankaran (pers. comm. 2002) estimates the presence of at least 10 Restricted Range species of birds, of which one, the Andaman Crake Rallina canningi is globally threatened. It is, however, evident that the reserve area is rich in living resources as it provides sustenance to the Jarawas by way of edible and medicinal plants, meat, fish, wood and material for building their huts, and other requirements (Gandhi 2000). Recent surveys have shown that the forest of Middle Andaman is rich in bird and butterfly diversity (Davidar et al. 1995), and a large number of endemic and threatened plants. The population of the endemic Andaman Wild Pig Sus scrofa appears to be healthy. A substantial portion of the best forested areas of the Middle and South Andaman is covered by the Reserve, so the Reserve is expected to be exceptionally rich likewise (Gandhi 2000). Except for the Narcondam Hornbill Aceros narcondami, which is restricted to Narcondam Island (Ali and Ripley 1987, Grimmett et al. 1999), and the Nicobar Megapode Megapodius nicobariensis which was earlier distributed in the Andamans and is now extinct in these islands, all the extant endemic species identified by Stattersfield et al. (1998) from this Endemic Bird Area are likely to be seen in the Reserve. Moreover, many endemic subspecies of birds (Abdulali 1964, Vijayan and Sankaran 2000) are also found in this IBA. Therefore, the conservation value of this IBA is immense. Recently, Rasmussen and Anderton (in press) have upgraded many subspecies to specie level. For instance, the earlier three subspecies of Pompadour Pigeon Treron pompadora have been upgraded to species, and one (new) species, Treron choloroptera has been found in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Andaman Pompadour Pigeon is still common and may not be of much conservation concern, but there are some cases where the ‘new’ species has very restricted distribution and may be extremely rare. Earlier, as a subspecies, it was not considered of great conservation concern, therefore not listed by BirdLife International (2001), but now it must be reassessed. A good example is the subspecies of the Barn Owl Tyto alba found in Andaman, T. alba deroepstorffi. Ali and Ripley (1987) named it as Andaman Barn Owl and state ‘evidently a very scarce resident in the Andaman Islands…. not recorded from the Nicobars.’ Rasmussen and Anderton (in press) treat it as a species, which means that it is perhaps one of the endemics and rare species of the Andaman Islands. As the forest is largely intact in the Jarawa Reserve, the Andaman Barn Owl is likely to be present in fairly good numbers on this site. Status survey of this bird is urgently required.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The Andaman Wild Pig Sus scrofa andamanensis, Andaman Masked Palm Civet Paguma larvata tytleri, introduced Chital Axis axis, and Flying Fox Pteropus melanotus are usually seen here.

This site also supports a unique diversity of herpetofauna and the rare and endemic species of reptiles such as Anderson’s Pit Viper Cryptelytrops andersoni, Small-eared Island Skink Lipinia macrotympanum and Andaman Water Monitor Varanus salvator andamanensis (Anon. 2001).

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Jarawa Reserve (Middle Andaman and South Andaman). Downloaded from on 04/02/2023.