Ripu and Chirang Reserve Forests

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 120,000 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) Threat (pressure) Condition (state) Action (response)
2003 low not assessed not assessed
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Site description (baseline)
Ripu and Chirang are two reserve forests with contiguous habitat, in extreme western Assam bordering West Bengal and Bhutan. They are also part of the buffer zone of Manas Tiger Reserve. The forests of Ripu and Chirang are contiguous with those of Buxa Tiger Reserve of West Bengal and Phipsoo Wildlife Sanctuary of Bhutan. These forests have the largest known population of the endangered Golden Langur Trachypithecus geei in India (Choudhury 2002). Since 1989, a third of these forests have been clear felled and encroached upon due to insurgency related problems. Located in the northern part of Kokrajhar district and nestling in the foothills of the Bhutan Himalaya, Ripu and Chirang have some of the finest examples of bhabar forest with Sal Shorea robusta as the dominant species. Further north, the forest is Semievergreen type. These reserve forests are easily accessible from Kokrajhar district headquarters, about 25 km away. The terrain is largely flat or gently sloping from north to south, with some foothills towards the north. The main rivers that flow through this IBA are Sankosh, Saralbhanga, and Champamoti. There is a large wetland called Maachbhandar inside Chirang RF. Besides dense Tropical Semi-evergreen and Tropical Moist Deciduous forests, riverine forests with light woodland and grasslands are also found. Ripu and Chirang are vital habitats that serve as a corridor linking Manas National Park, Assam with Buxa in West Bengal, and also the forests of Bhutan, especially important for Asian Elephants Elaphas maximus. These forests are already part of the Chirang- Ripu Elephant Reserve of Assam.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: No detailed study on avifauna has been conducted but preliminary surveys reveal around 300 bird species (A. U. Choudhury pers. comm. 2003). The sites fall in Biome-9 (Indo-Chinese Tropical Moist Forests) but many species of Biome-7, Biome-8 and Biome-11 are also seen here such as Rufous-breasted Blue Flycatcher Ficedula hodgsonii, Grey-bellied Tesia Tesia cyaniventer, Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis, Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii, Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae, Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike Coracina melaschistos, Short-billed Minivet Pericrocotus brevirostris and White-throated Bulbul Alophoixus flaveolus. Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush Garrulax moniligerus, Greater or Black-gorgeted Laughingthrush G. pectoralis, Rufous-necked Laughingthrush G. ruficollis, and Sultan Tit Melanochlora sultanea are typical Biome-9 species. Twelve globally threatened species are found in these forests. The presence of Bengal Florican is not confirmed, but as it is found in Manas (another IBA), it is likely to occur in the grasslands of Ripu-Chirang. The presence of the Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis proves that the forest is still pristine, at least in parts. On the Bhutan side, this bird is still not uncommon in undisturbed forests.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The major attraction of these forests is the Golden Langur. Assamese macaque Macaca assamensis and Rhesus macaque M. mulatta are also found, sometimes together. Six species of large and small cats are reported: Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard P. pardus, Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa, Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata, Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrina and Golden Cat Catopuma temminckii. The Hispid Hare Caprolagus hispidus is another rare mammal found chiefly in the grasslands, where Bengal Florican is likely to be found. Ripu-Chirang forests are rich in ungulates. Sambar Cervus unicolor, Hog Deer Axis porcinus, Chital A. axis, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Wild Water Buffalo Bubalus arnee (= bubalis) (occasional) and Gaur Bos frontalis share the habitat with the Asian Elephant, Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus, and Sloth bear Melursus ursinus.

Two species of otters Lutra lutra and Lutrogale perspicillata are recorded in the rivers and streams. Chinese pangolin Manis pentadactyla, Chinese porcupine Hystrix brachyura and Binturong Arctictis binturong are notable species of this IBA.

The reptile fauna is rich, with Indian Softshell Turtle Aspideretes gangeticus, Peacock Softshell Turtle A. hurum, Indian Rock Python Python molurus, Russell’s Viper Daboia russelii, Common Monitor Lizard Varanus bengalensis, Water Monitor V. salvator, and Tucktoo Gecko Gekko gekko. More than 100 species of butterflies have been recorded.

Key contributors: Bablu Dey, Subhash Chanda, Arindam Brahma and Anwaruddin Choudhury.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Ripu and Chirang Reserve Forests. Downloaded from on 06/06/2023.