Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve

Country/territory: Nepal

IBA criteria met: A1, A3, A4i (2005)
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Area: 30,500 ha

Bird Conservation Nepal
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2011 unfavourable high medium
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Site description (2005 baseline)
Sukla Phanta lies in the extreme southwest of the terai in Kanchanpur district. The international border between Nepal and India demarcates the western boundary and also the southern boundary, beyond which lies the Luggabugga Florican Reserve in India. Some 54.7% of the reserve is covered by broadleaved forests of Sal Shorea robusta with forests of Sissoo Dalbergia sissoo and Khair Acacia catechu along rivers, and grassland and marsh in the southwest where soils are of recent alluvium. The rest consists of forests of Sal, Sissoo and Khair and savannah, supported by better-drained soils on higher terrain in the northeast (Schaaf 1978, Green 1993). The reserve possesses the largest grassland phantas in Nepal; these are of both national and international importance for birds and other wildlife. There are four small lakes, Rani Tal, Salghaudi Tal, Kalikitch Tal and Shikari Tal, which add significantly to the reserve's biodiversity.

Key biodiversity
Around 373 species of birds have been definitely recorded in the reserve, including 50% of Nepal's globally threatened species. Over half of these threatened species frequent grasslands, emphasizing the reserve's importance for this habitat type (Inskipp and Baral in prep.). The reserve supports by far the largest population of Bengal Florican in Nepal (Inskipp and Inskipp 1983, Tamang and Baral 2000). Sukla Phanta also holds the large majority of Nepal’s wintering population of Hodgson’s Bushchat Saxicola insignis and is the country’s only regular wintering site for the species (Baral 1998b). The reserve is also important for Swamp Francolin, White-rumped Vulture, Slender-billed Vulture, Lesser Adjutant, Bristled Grassbird, Jerdon's Babbler Chrysomma altirostre and Finn’s Weaver Ploceus megarhynchus. The last species, which was previously described as endemic to India (Ali and Ripley 1987), is one of two new bird species for Nepal that were found in Sukla Phanta in 1996 indicating that the grasslands were poorly surveyed at that time (Baral 1998c). Almost half (11 out of 23) of Nepal's near-threatened birds have been recorded at Sukla Phanta and seven of these are wetland species (Inskipp and Baral in prep.). The reserve has large areas of grasslands, and dry tropical and dry subtropical forests. These are known to support significant populations of species characteristic of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone and Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest biomes respectively.

Non-bird biodiversity: A total of 30 species of mammals has been reliably reported from here, including the following globally threatened species: Tiger Panthera tigris, Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Hispid Hare Caprolagus hispidus, Smooth-coated Otter Lutrogale perspicillata, Nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus, Barasingha (or Swamp Deer) Cervus duvaucelii and, also, Indian Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis, which has been recently reintroduced (Hilton-Taylor 2000). Sukla Phanta supports the largest population of the nominate race of Barasingha Cervus duvaucelii duvaucelii, in the world (Schaaf 1978). Sukla Phanta also has a healthy population of Mugger Crocodile Crocodylus palustris and Indian Python Python molurus.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve. Downloaded from on 30/11/2023.