Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 12,800 ha

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

Site description (2004 baseline)
This IBA is located on the western slopes of the Western Ghats, along the southeast corner of Kerala in Neyyattinkara taluka of Thiruvananthapuram district. The Sanctuary forms the catchment area of the Neyyar reservoir built in 1958. The reservoir has numerous creeks and islets, forming ideal habitats for birds. The forest is more or less contiguous with a vast stretch of reserve forests: Kottoor Reserve Forest (IBA) in the north, revenue land in the south and west and Kalakkad- Mundathurai Sanctuary (IBA) of Tamil Nadu. The climate in the Sanctuary is moderately hot and humid with a low range of temperature. The high hills are cooler and drier than the foothills and valleys. Due to the varied climatic and topographic conditions, the Sanctuary harbours a remarkable diversity of vegetation. This IBA has West Coast Tropical Evergreen type vegetation mainly seen in Thalamuttiappy and Sooryanthanakuzhi; Southern Hilltop Tropical Evergreen, found above 1,000 m on the top of hills and in sholas; West Coast Semi-evergreen, mainly seen on the banks of the major rivers and streams and Southern Moist Mixed Deciduous forests over more than 60% of the tract along the lower slopes of hills. Jain and Sastry (1983) have studied the vegetation of this Sanctuary. They suggest that much of the Moist Deciduous Forest may have resulted from degradation of the original evergreen forest. The Sanctuary has several rare, endemic medicinal plants (Henry et al. 1984) such as Bentinckia conddapanna, Poeciloneuron pauciflorum, Eugenia floccosa, Eugenia discifera, Ardisia missionis, Hetaeria ovalifolia and Chiloschista glandulosa.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: More than 172 species of birds have been reported from Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary (Nair 1993) but this is only an indicative list and not a complete list. If detailed investigation is conducted, with mist netting for identification of difficult warbler species, this checklist would probably increase by another hundred species. Nair (1993) once found 18 species of birds feeding on a Ficus tree, giving a glimpse of the avian diversity of this site. Agasthyakoodam peak and its immediate environs are particularly rich in avifauna. Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary has its usual complement of threatened, restricted range and biome species, like in other similar forests of Kerala. Sixteen species of birds are endemic to the Western Ghats (Ali and Ripley 1987). Stattersfield et al. (1998) have called them restricted range because their historical range is probably less than 50,000 sq. km. In Neyyar, 11 of these restricted range species are found, including the globally threatened Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon. Three of these species are also considered Near Threatened (BirdLife International 2001). Besides these species, two more Near Threatened species are found at this site: Greater Grey-headed Fish-eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus and Great Pied Hornbill Buceros bicornis. BirdLife International (undated) has also categorized birds according to biome assemblages. Neyyar lies in Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forest). Fifteen species are recognized as representative of this biome-assemblage. Five are seen in this area, but more are likely to be found if detailed investigation is done. The biome species are generally not rare and are quite wellspread in a particular biome. This site has been selected as an IBA as it fits three criteria: A1 (Threatened species), A2 (Restricted Range or endemic species) and A3 (Biome-restricted assemblages).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The Sanctuary has a variety of animals. The evergreen forests, contiguous with the adjoining protected areas of Tamil Nadu, support viable populations of the endangered Lion-tailed Macaque Macaca silenus and Nilgiri Langur Trachypithecus johni. Other arboreals include Bonnet Macaque Macaca radiata and Indian Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica. The Nilgiri Tahr Hemitragus hylocrius is also seen in the higher peaks of the area. The Asian Elephant Elephas maximus and Sambar Cervus unicolor are the most commonly seen animals. Gaur Bos gaurus, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Mouse Deer Moschiola meminna, Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus, Toddy Cat Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, Otter sp., Dhole Cuon alpinus, Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Slender Loris Loris lydekkerianus, Chinese Pangolin Manis pentadactyla and Wild Boar Sus scrofa are regularly sighted. Tiger Panthera tigris and Leopard P. pardus are also reported from the Sanctuary.

Key contributor: Manoj Nair.

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