Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary - Tsomgo - Tamze - Chola Complex

Country/territory: India

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 3,100 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
Kyongnosla and Tsomgo lie on the Gangtok-Natu La highway in East Sikkim. The Sanctuary has dense bamboo thickets and typical temperate vegetation with Rhododendron - Silver Fir – Juniper forest and ground flora like Aconites, Potentilla, Aster, Iris, ground orchids and wild strawberries. There are steep cliffs that are snowbound throughout the year, as also open areas used by livestock in summer, until a recent ban by the government on grazing in forest areas. This IBA is a popular tourist destination barely 40 km from the State capital, Gangtok.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: More than 230 species of birds have been identified (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2003). Outside Khangchendzonga National Park, this is the site where the State Bird of Sikkim, the Blood Pheasant Ithaginis cruentus, is found, probably in significant numbers. Among the globally threatened species of this site, the most prominent one would be the Wood Snipe Gallinago nemoricola, as it possibly breeds here (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2003). Satyr Tragopan Tragopan satyra at the upper limit of its range, and Himalayan Monal Lophophophorus impejanus, the former considered as Near Threatened (BirdLife International 2001), are also residents. The Snow Pigeon Columba leuconota come down here in winter. Other species of interest are the Fire-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga ignicauda and Gold-naped Black Finch Pyrrhoplectes epauletta, birds of temperate forest. Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos and Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, Brown-headed Gull Larus brunnicephalus with Tufted Pochard Aythya fuligula were seen occasionally in Tsomgo Lake during the winter Asian Waterfowl Census (AWC). Pallas’s Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus was once seen in the forest patch below Tamzey during a survey for Red Panda in 1998 (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2003). The site is located in the Eastern Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (EBA-130) where 21 species have been listed of which only one species, the Hoary-throated Barwing Actinodura nipalensis, has been found till now but more are likely to occur. Perhaps the most important reason for selection of this site as an IBA is the presence of large number of biome restricted species of three biome types. Although, this site lies chiefly in Biome-7 (Sino- Himalayan Temperate Forest), birds of Biome-5 (Eurasian High Montane-Alpine and Tibetan) and Biome-8 (Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest) are also seen, mainly due to their altitudinal movement. In winter, birds of Biome-5 move down, so we see species such as Rosy Pipit Anthus roseus, Snow Pigeon Columba leuconota, Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris and others in this site. Thirteen out of 48 species of this biome have been seen in this IBA. Expectedly, the largest number of biome restricted species is from Biome 7: 35 out of 112 species but more are likely to be present. As the boundary between Biome-7 and Biome-8 is very diffuse (like all other biomes), some species are likely to be present in both the biomes. Till now, U. Lachungpa (pers. comm. 2003) has been able to locate only two biome restricted species, Grey-winged Blackbird Turdus boulboul and Black-spotted Yellow-Tit Parus spilonotus, of Biome-8 in this IBA. However, considering the long list of Biome-8 birds (95 species) and the extent of good habitat available, more species are likely to be found here.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Takin Budorcas taxicolor, Red or Hill Fox Vulpes vulpes, Goral Nemorhaedus goral, Musk Deer Moschus chrysogaster, Yellow- Throated Marten Martes flavigula, Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus, Mouse-Hare Ochotona roylei and Siberian Weasel

Mustela sibirica have been recorded from this IBA. Some of the Himalayan Marmots Marmota himalayana rescued from North Sikkim and released in the Sanctuary were re-sighted after eight years (Ganguli-Lachungpa and Sharma 2002). So far, no herpetofauna survey has been conducted in this IBA (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2003).

Key contributor: Usha Lachungpa.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary - Tsomgo - Tamze - Chola Complex. Downloaded from on 06/10/2022.