Sonkhaliya Closed Area

Country/territory: India

IBA criteria met: A1 (2004)
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Area: 17,134 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) Threat (pressure) Condition (state) Action (response)
2003 high not assessed not assessed
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Site description (baseline)
Sonkhaliya is one of the few sites which provides shelter to the Great Indian Bustard (Rahmani & Manakadan 1983; Rahmani 1987). During the few surveys done in the latter half of 1980s, the population of this bird was estimated to be c. 1,500-2,000 for the whole country, with Rajasthan holding more than half (Rahmani 1986, 1987). Sonkhaliya held a population of more than 80 bustards (Rahmani and Manakadan 1988). It is one of the preferred Bustard areas as it is more or less plain with crop fields and highly degraded scrub forest. The main natural flora of the site consists of species of Prosopis, Acacia, Capparis. Cultivated crops are also present.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: No published checklist of birds is available, but it is assumed that more than 100 species along with many threatened species are present in this IBA site. There has been a drastic decline in the numbers of globally Endangered Great Indian Bustard. In the 1980s, it was not uncommon to see flocks of 10-15 bustards in a day’s visit. The largest flock was of 55 bustards photographed by Kailash Sankhala in early 1980s (R. S. Rathore pers. comm. 2001). During a survey in 1986, 30 bustards were sighted by Rahmani (1986) in January. However, in January 2002, only five were seen after spending almost the whole day in search. The Lesser Florican Sypheotides indica is still found during monsoon in small numbers. It is difficult to estimate total numbers as their population and distribution fluctuates from year to year, depending upon the rainfall pattern. Another globally threatened species occurring at this site is Stoliczka’s Bushchat, also called White-browed Bushchat Saxicola macrorhyncha. It is found in selected dry patches but is not difficult to sight. Among the Near Threatened species, Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala and Oriental White Ibis or Black headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus are found in pools during good monsoon but not in any significant numbers. However, Red-headed or King Vulture Sarcogyps calvus and Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus are regularly seen, the latter only during winter while the former could be breeding in and around Sonkhaliya. There are chances that Houbara or Macqueen’s Bustard Chlamydotis macqueeni could be occurring here during winter because the habitat looks suitable in places, and this species has been found further east, in Sorsan Bustard Area in Baran district. The site lies in Biome-11 (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone), in which BirdLife International (undated) has listed 59 species as biomerestricted assemblages. In this IBA, 24 such species have been identified till now, and more Biome-11 species are likely to occur.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The other fauna which are usually associated with bustard habitats and are present in this IBA include Golden Jackal Canis aureus and Indian Fox Vulpes vulpes. Bluebull Boselaphus tragocamelus have increased intolerably in recent years, resulting in man-animal conflicts.

Key contributors: Asad R. Rahmani and R. S. Rathore.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Sonkhaliya Closed Area. Downloaded from on 30/05/2023.