Little Andaman

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 52,000 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2003 medium not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
Little Andaman, the southernmost of the Andaman group of islands, lies in the Andaman archipelago in the Bay of Bengal. The whole of Little Andaman (52,000 ha) was designated as a Tribal Reserve for the Onges under the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, 1956. The major vegetation types in the island are Tropical Evergreen, Semi-evergreen and Littoral and Mangrove forests. Proximity to the equator and the sea ensures a hot, humid and uniform climate. The island receives rainfall from both the southwest and northeast monsoon. Maximum precipitation is between May and December, the driest period being between January to April (Sankaran 1995).

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Thirty-four endemic bird taxa, including species and subspecies, are reported from this site (Andrews and Sankaran 2002). The Andaman Teal Anas albogularis, earlier considered as an endemic subspecies of the Grey Teal A. gibberifrons, is now listed as a full species by Rasmussen and Anderton (in press). With as estimated population between 500 to 600 (Vijayan and Sankaran 2000), it could be one of the rarest Anatidae in the world. During the last 150 years, its population has declined drastically. It used to occur in huge flocks throughout the Andaman Islands (Hume 1874, Osmaston 1906) but Vijayan and Sankaran (2000) saw only 14 birds in Little Andaman at three sites. In the Endemic Bird Area of Andaman Islands (Stattersfield et al. 1998), 13 Restricted Range species have been listed, of which 10 have been reported from this IBA. Besides, this site also has many endemic subspecies of birds, found only in this Endemic Bird Area. Recently, Rasmussen and Anderton (in press) have upgraded many subspecies to full species status. For instance, earlier the subspecies of Barn Owl Tyto alba occurring in Andaman, which Ali and Ripley (1987) have called Andaman Barn Owl Tyto alba deroepstorffi is now considered as a full species, Tyto deroepstorffi. This very rare owl of the Andaman group of islands, not found in Nicobar Islands, due to its restricted distribution, has to be listed in the Restricted Range category of Stattersfield et al. (1998) and also in the Threatened category. Another example is the subspecies of Pompadour Pigeon Treron pompadora. Three subspecies have been upgraded to full species and one species Andaman Pompadour Pigeon Treron choloroptera is found in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Andaman Pompadour Pigeon is still common and may not be of much conservation concern but it has to be listed in the Restricted Range category of Endemic Bird Area. Another interesting example is the upgradation of the two subspecies of the Great Stone Plover or Thick-knee Esacus magnirostris to full species as Great Stone-Plover E. recurvirostris and Beach Stone- Plover E. magnirostris (Dickinson 2003). Inskipp et al. (1996) and Grimmet et al. (1998) recognize Beach Stone Curlew or Thickknee as Esacus neglectus. Leaving aside the classification issue, it is important to note that the Beach Stone Curlew is considered as Near Threatened by BirdLife International (2001). It has a wide distribution from Andaman Islands to Australia, but the range is, linear along the narrow coasts. Its total population may be not more than 1,000 birds in Australia (Marchant and Higgins, 1993, referred in BirdLife International 2001) but Ali and Ripley (1987) say that it is ‘recorded on almost every island …. Not in Nicobar’. It is very rare on and around Sumatra (BirdLife International 2001). This species is likely to be present on extensive undisturbed beaches, but no published record is available. The Andaman Hawk Owl Ninox affinis is a rare endemic, with two subspecies in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The subspecies N. affinis affinis has been collected from Little Andaman. It is considered as Near Threatened (BirdLife International 2001). Its tolerance to disturbed habitat gives hope that it would survive some degradation of its habitat, such as is going on in the islands due to increase in human population.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The Giant Robber Crab Birgus latro, a flagship species of the invertebrate fauna of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is reported from the site (Andrews and Sankaran 2002). Other common fauna of Little Andaman Island includes Wild Pig Sus scrofa andamanensis and the Andaman Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus cognatus. The bat is totally endemic to the Andaman Islands, listed as threatened in 1996 IUCN Red List. It probably has a small declining population (Baillie and Groombridge 1996). Nothing has been recorded of its ecological requirements or breeding behaviour (Bates and Harrison 1997).

The reptile fauna includes the Andaman Water Monitor Varanus salvator andamanensis and Saltwater Crocodile Crocodylus porosus, Green Turtle Chelonia mydas and Hawksbill Turtle Eretmochelys imbricata. The endemic Small-eared Island Skink Lipinia macrotympanum, listed as Vulnerable (Anonymous 2001) is found in this IBA.

Key contributors: Ravi Sankaran, K. Sivakumar and H. V. Andrews.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Little Andaman. Downloaded from on 04/02/2023.