Kolleru Lake Wildlife Sanctuary

Country/territory: India

IBA criteria met: A1, A4i, A4iii (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 67,300 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
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2004 baseline)
Kolleru is a large, natural, shallow, freshwater lake with associated marshes, situated between the Krishna and Godavari Rivers, c. 55 km east of Vijayawada and c. 25 km northwest of the coastline. The surface area of the lake is determined by the volume of monsoon run-off and is subject to wide fluctuation as water levels rise and fall. At maximum flooding of 3 m, the area of the lake is over 90,000 ha. At 1 m, it may fall to 13,000 ha. The lake drains into the Bay of Bengal through the Upputeru river. Occasionally, small amounts of salt water enter the otherwise freshwater lake through this river. The surrounding areas are mostly under agriculture. Kolleru was declared a Ramsar Site in November 2002. It regularly supports more than 50,000 waterfowl, due to which it was selected as an IBA. The vegetation is luxuriant and about 19 species of hydrophytes belonging to 13 angiosperm families are recorded (Seshavataram et al. 1982 quoted in Rao and Rao 1987). Almost the entire surface is covered with emergents and floating aquatics such as Ipomoea aquatica, Ottelia alismoides, Nymphoides indicum, Limnophila indica, Utricularia sp., Potamageton crispus, Nechamandara alternifolia, Chara sp. and Nitella sp. The surrounding areas are under intensive cultivation. Cultivated Coconut trees are abundant in this area.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: The site contains about 160 species of birds (Rao and Rao 1987). At one time, it was famous for a breeding colony of Spot-billed or Grey Pelican Pelecanus philippensis. Neelakantan (1949) and Gee (1960) described the Aredu-Sarepalle pelicanry. Aredu village near Kolleru had the largest known breeding population of Spot-billed Pelican in India, thanks to the protection provided by villagers (Krishnan 1981), but unfortunately this pelicanry disappeared in the 1970s due to unknown reasons. In the early 1960s, there were 1,500 nests. In 1968, less than 400 remained and by 1974, the colony had disappeared (Anon. 1991). The Spot-billed Pelican is now found occasionally in this lake. However, Kolleru still attracts thousands of waterfowl. During the mid-winter waterfowl count of 1988, more than 17,000 birds were reported from around 30% of the lake area (Scott 1989). The following year, 25,000 waterfowl were recorded, but this was probably due to better methodology used in counting (Anon. 1991). The most abundant duck was the Garganey Anas querquedula. Up to 10,000 were counted (Scott 1989). According to Wetlands International (2002), 1% biogeogrphic population threshold for this species is 2,500, so about 4% of the total non-breeding Garganeys of South Asia winter in this site. Similarly, about 1,000 Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans were counted, which also constitutes 4% of the known breeding population of South Asia because, according to Wetlands International (2002), there could be over 125,000 Asian Openbill in South Asia. Other common birds are the Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica, Larger Whistling Duck D. bicolor, Northern Pintail Anas acuta, Wigeon A. penelope, Northern Shoveler A. clypeata, Common Teal A. crecca, Red-crested Pochard Rhodonessa rufina, Purple Moorhen Porphyrio porphyrio, Pond Heron Ardeola grayii, Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Coot Fulica atra, Little Grebe or Dabchick Tachybaptus ruficollis, Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus, Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis, Chestnut Bittern I. cinnamomeus, Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis, Whitebreasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus, Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus and Blue-breasted or Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The lake supports rich fish fauna, including some endemic subspecies.

Sixty-three species of fish belonging to 29 families have been recorded in commercial catches (Dutt S. 1983, quoted in Rao and Rao 1987).

However, due to poor management and over-exploitation, the fish catch is going down. For instance, in 1974, nearly 7,000 tonnes was caught, but the catch decreased to 3,000 tonnes in 1985 (Anon. 1991).

Key contributor: IBA team.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Kolleru Lake Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 27/09/2023.