Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuary is bounded to the north and west by the River Bhareli (known as Kameng in Arunachal Pradesh), to the east by the River Pakke and to the south by the Nameri National Park of Assam (an IBA). Doimara Reserve Forest (RF) lies to the west of Pakhui in the Kameng distrct, while Papum RF lies to the east of the Sanctuary in East Kameng district. Both these Reserve Forests cover c. 128,900 ha (Datta 1998a). Pakhui has been recently declared as Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger. Pakhui is criss-crossed by a number of small rivers and perennial tributaries of Bhareli and Pakke rivers, both of which join the Brahmaputra river. The area lies in the foothills of the Himalaya and the terrain is undulating and hilly. A large portion of the northern and central part of the Sanctuary is inaccessible due to dense vegetation, hilly terrain and lack of trails or paths. The forest types include: Tropical Semi-evergreen on the lower plains and foothills, patches of Tropical Evergreen and Subtropical Broadleaf Forests on the hilltops and higher reaches. Moist areas near streams have a profuse growth of bamboo, cane brakes and palms. Patches of tall grassland and shingle beds occur along the larger perennial streams, which give way to lowland moist forests (Datta 1998a).
AVIFAUNA: Singh (1991, 1994), Datta et al. (1998) and Pawar and Birand (2001) have together recorded 296 bird species from the area. At least 45-50 species of major frugivorous and granivorous birds occur here. The major frugivorous and granivorous birds include 8 species of bulbuls (Pycnonotus), 5 species of mynas (Acridotheres), 4 species of green pigeons (Treron) and Mountain Imperial-pigeon Ducula badia, 4 species of doves (Streptopelia, Macropygia and Chalcophaps), 4 barbet species (Megalaima), and 3 parakeet species (Psittacula and Loriculus). In addition, broadbills, cuckoos, the Red-headed Trogon (Harpactes erythrocephalus), two leafbird (Chloropsis) species, Fairy Bluebird (Irena puella), 2 oriole Oriolus species and 4 flowerpecker Dicaeum species were also recorded.
There are at least 4 globally threatened species such as the Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis, White-winged duck Cairina scutulata, Pallas’s Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus and Marsh Babbler Pellorneum palustre. The uncommon Oriental Bay-Owl Phodilus badius, a first record from western Arunachal Pradesh, has also been recorded in the area recently (Datta et. al. 2001; A. Datta, pers. comm. 2003).
Several roost sites of hornbills, where up to 150 Wreathed Hornbills Aceros undulatus and about 100 Great Hornbills Buceros bicornis roosted at the same location, were recorded in recent studies (Datta et al. 1998). Among the three species of hornbills, the Great Hornbill is the most abundant, followed by the Wreathed and Oriental Pied (Datta 1998a). Great and Wreathed hornbills were recorded in all habitats, while Oriental Pied was recorded only in semi-disturbed forests and plantations.
Datta (2000) has studied the relative abundance of pheasant species (Gallus gallus, Lophura leucomelanos lathami and Polyplectron bicalcaratum) in unlogged and logged forests of Pakhui WLS. She found that overall pheasant abundance was highest in unlogged forest and low in other strata. No pheasant was sighted in the plantation, further proving the importance of maintaining undisturbed forest tracts for biodiversity conservation.
Pakhui has rich assemblages of biome species. Thirteen species of woodpeckers, 8 species of bulbuls, 9 species of doves and pigeons and several other groups of birds are common (Datta et al. 1998). The Family Muscicapidae, for which the Northeast is famous, is represented by 72 species!
This IBA is particularly good for raptors. Of the 66 species reported from the Indian subcontinent, Pakhui has 17, including rarities such as the Pallas’s Fish-Eagle.
Due to its altitudinal variation from 100 m to 2,000 m, Pakhui has bird species ranging from Ibisbill Ibidorhyncha struthersii and Tickell's Warbler Phylloscopus affinis of Biome-5 (Eurasian High Montane Forest) to Grey Peacock Pheasant Polyplectron bicalcaratum, Pale-headed Woodpecker Gecinulus grantia and Black-backed Forktail Enicurus immaculatus of Biome-7 (Indo-Chinese Tropical Moist Forest). Ibisbill has been sighted on Khari nallha (stream) and Bhareli river (Datta et al. 1998).
Rarely seen, but supposedly widespread, the Green Cochoa Cochoa viridis is found in Pakhui but Datta et al. (1998) saw it only once. Elwes’s or Black-tailed Crake Porzana bicolor, a seldom seen crake of the Himalaya and northeast India, was seen in a forest pool called Pukhri, situated on top of a plateau.
This IBA is included in the Eastern Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (Stattersfield et al. 1998). Of the 21 Restricted Range species recorded for India in this EBA, seven have been seen to date.
Choudhury (1995) has reported White-winged Duck Cairina scutulata from this IBA, but it is present in much greater numbers in the adjoining Nameri National Park in Assam (Choudhury 2002).
OTHER KEY FAUNA: This IBA is extremely rich in mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Besides a good number of Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Tiger Panthera tigris and Leopard P. pardus, there is also evidence of presence of Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa in the area (Datta 1998b). The Golden Cat Catopuma temmincki and Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis are also reported from this IBA. Datta (1999) has recorded about 10 species of smaller carnivores from Pakhui.
Pakhui WLS appears to support a highly diverse turtle population (Datta 1998c). The Assam Roofed Turtle Kachuga sylhetensis, restricted to the evergreen forest tracts of northeast India, was found in Khari nullah by Datta (1998c), the first record of this rare species from Arunachal Pradesh. Keeled Box Turtle Pyxedia mouhotii is also found here (Pawar and Birand 2001).
This site has very diverse species of amphibians (28 species) and reptiles (48 species) (Pawar and Birand 2001). Some of the interesting species are North-western Trickle Frog Occidozyga borealis and Daniel’s Oriental Streamfrog Rana danieli.
Key contributors: A. Datta, A. Birand and S. Pawar.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Pakhui or Pakke Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/05/2022.