Lowland forests of South Sikkim (Melli-Baguwa-Kitam, Jorethang-Namchi, Sombarey)

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 2,000 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2003 not assessed very high not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2004 baseline)
Much of the South District of Sikkim is populated with townships, villages and agriculture holdings. The lowland forests of Sikkim lie at the southern end of the South District, bound to the south by the Great Rangit river, extending roughly from the foothills of the outer Himalayas to an altitude of about 1,000 m. This IBA includes the river valleys of Ramam, Rangit, Great Rangit and Tista and adjoins the Maenam-Tendong (an IBA) to its north. Various species of orchids, Rhapidophora, wild banana, screwpines, nettles and giant bamboo are characteristic of this site. The Rangit Valley Sal Shorea robusta shows a unique association with the Chir Pine Pinus roxburghii (Bejoy Gurung pers. comm. 2003). In patches of protected forest, it is possible to see Sal being slowly dominated by Pine. Such patches are relatively poor in bird life (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2003).

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Despite being the lowest altitude IBA in Sikkim, this site has records of birds restricted to biomes 9, 8, 7 as well as 5, perhaps due to seasonal altitudinal migration as well as the telescoping effect of the Sikkim Himalaya, where in a distance of c. 100 km, habitats ranging from lowland subtropical forests to high cold desert can be seen (Ali 1962). Hence, as many as 14 globally threatened and restricted range species and at least four Biome-5 species, 15 Biome-7 species, 33 Biome-8 species and seven Biome-9 species have been recorded from this IBA. The lowland forests of Sikkim are home to several species identified as Near Threatened by BirdLife International (2001): Great Pied Hornbill Buceros bicornis now restricted to few sightings over tea estates, Red-breasted Partridge Arborophila mandelli (not recorded recently) and Ward’s Trogon Harpactes wardi. The Nepal Wren-Babbler Pnoepyga immaculata could also occur here. During a survey conducted here in 1996, no potential habitat was found for the Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis. Biome-5 species like Ibisbill Ibidorhyncha struthersii are regularly recorded in winter on the banks of the Great Rangit river; Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria recorded from Trans-Himalayan Lhonak Valley (at Green Lake) and other high altitude sites is also recorded from this IBA. The Collared Falconet Microhierax caerulescens was found breeding in 1996 very close to human habitation, hawking dragonflies around the Fisheries Department pond at Baguwa but cleverly avoiding the mist-nets set around it. Ward’s Trogon was sighted at Baguwa and Jorethang in October 1996 (Ganguli-Lachungpa 1996). All these records make this IBA a very interesting bird watching and conservation area.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The lowland fauna includes Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis, Himalayan Crestless Porcupine Hystrix brachyura, Assamese Macaque Macaca assamensis, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Tree Shrew Tupaia belangeri, squirrels, fruit bats, a host of butterflies and other invertebrates, riverine fish (over 40 species), Indian Rock Python Python molurus, geckos, freshwater frogs and toads.

Key contributors: Usha Lachungpa and Sandeep Tambe.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Lowland forests of South Sikkim (Melli-Baguwa-Kitam, Jorethang-Namchi, Sombarey). Downloaded from on 24/02/2024.