Year of compilation: 2004
AVIFAUNA: One of the richest bird areas of the world, Keoladeo supports more than 350 bird species (Vijayan 1991). The site falls in Biome-12 representing the bird species of Indo-Gangetic Plains, besides the bird species of Biome-11 (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone) are also found. The Park qualifies as an IBA under A1 (Threatened Species), A4i (1% threshold population), and A4iii (³20,000 waterbirds). During good monsoon years, it is not uncommon to see a hundred thousand birds. It is one of the major breeding centres of the Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala, Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans, Darter Anhinga melanogaster and various egrets, herons, ibises and other storks. Many ducks, coot and rails occur much above their 1% threshold numbers. Up to five pairs of Black-necked Storks breed in the Park. Two pairs of Pallas’s Fish Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus used to breed till the late 1980s but now, this bird occurs only as an occasional winter visitor. Similarly, Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius has also stopped coming. However, the most famous disappearance of any species is of Siberian Crane Grus leucogeranus, which has declined from 200 birds in the 1960s to none in 2002. More details are given in Vijayan (1991) and subsequent papers.
OTHER KEY FAUNA: Important herbivores of the Park include the Cheetal Axis axis, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Bluebul Boselaphus tragocamelus and Wild Boar Sus scrofa, whereas the commonly sighted predators include Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Jungle Cat Felis chaus and Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrina. Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena, and Smooth Indian Otter Lutra perspicillata are also found in small numbers. Leopard Panthera pardus is sometimes sighted, and recently, a Tigress Panthera tigris was seen for some months.
Blackbuck Antelope cervicapra has become extinct in recent years, mainly due to habitat changes. Among reptiles, the Indian Rock Python Python molurus is quite common and a major tourist attraction.
Visitors to the Park have increased, especially in recent decades, their numbers fluctuating with the abundance of migratory waterfowl and colonial breeding birds. In the late 1980s, the number of visitors in a year averaged about 90,000 (Vijayan 1991). The revenue earned through entry fees and transport facilities inside the Park is significant. Local guides and rickshaw-pullers earn a sizeable income in the peak season, and so do the local food vendors, shopkeepers and hoteliers. Since 30% of the visitors are from abroad, including many bird watchers, nature lovers and photographers, the Park also helps earn foreign exchange for the country. Major threats to the system arise from the paucity of water, extensive growth of vegetation inside the Park, and the dependence of the Park on the neighbouring villages and waterbodies. Illegal grazing is an acute problem and has become a social issue. Growth of Paspalum and Prosopis chilensis also threatens the local species. Based on 10 years study (Vijayan 1990, 1991) the BNHS has given recommendations for the management of this world-famous IBA. These recommendations should be followed strictly to restore the glory of this site.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Keoladeo National Park and Ajan Bande. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/02/2021.