Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary

Site description (2004 baseline):

Site location and context
Ratapani WLS is spread over a vast area in the forests of the Vindhyachal Ranges, north of the Narmada river. Bhopal, the state capital, is about 35 km away. The landscape is undulating, with hills, plateaux, valleys and plains. A number of seasonal streams irrigate the site in the monsoon, and water is retained in some pools along these streams even in the summer. Two large reservoirs, namely Barna Reservoir and Ratapani Dam (Barrusot lake) are among the major waterbodies adjacent to or inside the Sanctuary. The forest of Ratapani is Dry Deciduous and Moist Deciduous type, with Teak Tectona grandis as the main tree species. About 55% of the area is covered by Teak. The remaining mixed forests consist of various dry deciduous species. Bamboo Dendrocalamus strictus overlaps the two aforementioned forest types and covers about one quarter of the forest area (Dwivedi 2003).

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: The Ratapani WLS is rich in the typical wildlife of central India. Not much work has been done on the birds of Ratapani, although frequent visits by birdwatchers to the site provide baseline information on the species seen in and around the site. More than 150 species of birds are reported from Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary (K. Sharma pers. comm. 2003). Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis, Long-billed Vulture Gyps indicus and Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus are often found perched on a cluster of trees or soaring at great heights in search of food (K. Sharma pers. comm. 2002). The Ratapani dam at the periphery of the Sanctuary invites thousands of migratory birds in winter. There are many smaller reservoirs dotted all over the Sanctuary. The total waterfowl populations in all these smaller reservoirs and Ratapani reservoir would easily exceed 20,000 (A4iii criteria). Moreover, these waterbodies also attract large wading birds such as the Sarus Crane Grus antigone, Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala, Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus and White-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus (K. Sharma pers. comm. 2002). The rich diversity in terrestrial species throughout the Sanctuary certainly calls for a proper bird survey of the area. Ratapani retains some of the finest representative forest cover of the Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone (Biome-11). Of the 59 bird species identified by BirdLife International (undated) in this biome, 33 are found in Ratapani, further proving the importance of this site for the protection of biome species. Detailed studies could reveal more bird species.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: This site has almost all the carnivores and herbivores found in dry deciduous forests of central India, such as the Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard Panthera pardus, and Dhole or Wild Dog Cuon alpinus, Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena, Jackal Canis aureus and Jungle Cat Felis chaus. The herbivores include Chital Axis axis, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus, Four-horned Antelope Tetracerus quadricornis and Wild Boar Sus scrofa (Dwivedi 2003). Not much is known about the smaller mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: Poaching; Encroachment and forest fires; Illicit felling; Livestock grazing; Man-animal conflict.

This large sanctuary faces pressures from all directions. Illicit felling, grazing by cattle, poaching and encroachment are the major concerns for the management. Presence of 26 villages inside the Sanctuary and another 109 villages around it exert the associated anthropogenic pressures. These villages are dependent for their day-to-day needs on the biomass resources of the Sanctuary. Forest fires, natural and man-made, are a major problem in summer. The long, narrow area of Ratapani WLS (about 70 km long and about 15 km wide) makes it more vulnerable to intensive biotic pressure in most of its areas.

Key contributor: Koustubh Sharma.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 03/10/2023.