Poomparai and Kukkal

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 6,450 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
Of the two great valleys, Vilpatti and Poomparai, on the north of the Kodaikanal plateau, the Poomparai Valley is the most striking, with almost parallel sides cultivated and ascending through woodland, broken ground and precipitous crags. The Poomparai village is situated 20 km west of Kodaikanal. The forests around Poomparai are dominantly Evergreen Shrub, degraded shola, and old plantations of Wattle, Pine and Blue gum. Poomparai village is surrounded by cultivated land. Natural forest is restricted to isolated pockets (altitude 1,890 m) at Poomparai. Kukkal lies 6 km northwest from Poomparai and adjacent habitats are Semi- Evergreen, Evergreen Forests and shola-Grassland. The largest contiguous stretch of shola of the Upper Palnis is situated here. A check dam had been constructed along the stream to retain water for cultivation. The old mud road which deviated from the Poomparai-Mannavanur road to Kukkal was converted into a tar road and public transport service was introduced in the late 1990s. This undulating plateau bears grasslands interspersed with wooded sholas. The grasslands have been extensively planted with Wattle, Eucalyptus, Pine and Alnus. The common endemic plant species occurring around Poomparai are Michelia nilagirica, Symplocos cochinchinensis. The rare endemic plants of Kukkal shola are Litsea floribunda, Habenaria pallideviridis, Viburnum erubescens and a solitary population of Cycas circinalis (Mathew 1999).

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: The BNHS has conducted bird ringing here since 1970, and 94 species of birds have been identified from this IBA (Balachandran et al. 2003). Almost all the high altitude endemics of the Western Ghats have been recorded and/or ringed here. Interestingly, the Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon Columba elphinstonii, which was not recorded before 1982, is now seen regularly. It has also been found to breed in the shola patches around Poombarai and Kukkal (Balachandran et al. 2003). Other endemic species on the increase are White-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx major and Nilgiri Flycatcher Eumyias albicaudata. One White-bellied Shortwing was recaptured after 13 years. However, the Nilgiri Pipit Anthus nilghiriensis has decreased, mainly due to the plantation of shola grasslands with exotic trees. Rufous Babbler Turdoides subrufus, the mid-altitude endemic, was reported for the first time from this site at an altitude of 1,900 m. Of the 16 restricted range species of the Western Ghats, 8 have been reported from this IBA site (Balachandran et al. 2003). Tremendous changes in the bird community structure have been noticed in and around this site. The clearance of forest cover for cultivation around Poomparai and Kukkal, and the reduction in rainfall have had great impact on the climate, especially on the quasi-temperate climate experienced during the 1980s and 1990s. Due to the increase in temperature, the generalist bird species from the mid and lower elevations (e.g. Plum-headed Parakeet Psittacula cyanocephala, Brahminy kite Haliastur indus, Black Kite Milvus migrans, Tickell’s Flycatcher Cyornis tickelliae, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater Merops leschenaulti, Red Spurfowl Galloperdix spadicea, Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer and Common Hawk-cuckoo Hierococcyx varius) have moved to the higher altitude areas and are competing with the habitat specialist endemic birds.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The major predator is Leopard Panthera pardus. There have been some unconfirmed records of Tiger Panthera tigris. Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak is the commonest ungulate. The Gaur Bos frontalis and Wild Boar Sus scrofa population is quite healthy and on the rise (S. Balachandran pers. comm. 2003). The populations of Wild Dog Cuon alpinus and Sambar Cervus unicolor have decreased. Indian Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica is found in all suitable forest patches.

Key contributor: S. Balachandran.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Poomparai and Kukkal. Downloaded from on 06/12/2021.