Year of compilation: 2004
AVIFAUNA: Around 200 species of birds have been reported from this area (H. K. Bisht in litt. 2002). BirdLife International (undated) has listed 59 species in Biome-11 (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone), of which 18 have been seen till now, but more are likely to occur. Except for the two Gyps vultures, which are now included in the Critically Endangered category by BirdLife International (2001) due to their steep decline during the last 10 years, none of the other species is threatened with extinction. Biome-11 includes a wide range of habitats, including forests and open country. Many of the species listed have adapted to man-modified habitats. Some species have deviated so far from their earlier distribution that they may not be useful in identifying IBAs for the protection of this biome (BirdLife International, undated).
OTHER KEY FAUNA: Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary has certainly seen better days. It had Swamp Deer Cervus duvauceli branderi and Wild Buffalo Bubalus bubalis (= arnee) (Kotwal 1997). Even now, typical central Indian wild mammals such as Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard P. pardus, Gaur Bos frontalis, Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Wild Boar Sus scrofa and Bluebull Boselaphus tragocamelus are found, although depleted by poaching. Among the non-human primates, Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus and Rhesus Monkey Macaca mulatta are very common.
According to Kotwal (1997), the highly endangered Wild Buffalo used to occur here nearly 70 years ago. At present, they are found in Udanti Wildlife Sanctuary in Chhattisgarh, about 20 km away but there is a Patdhara Reserve Forest corridor. Efforts should be made to improve the habitat so that the Wild Buffalo can come back to Sunabeda using this corridor. This would give a boost to the protection of this Sanctuary, which is important for birds also. About 64 villages, with a human population of 20,000, fragment this Sanctuary and there is a large population of cattle. The villagers subsist on forest products to a great extent, as they have land holdings with poor yield. Grazing and encroachment of forest land for cultivation of Cannabis sativa are major threats to the Sanctuary. Graziers from other states including Rajasthan arrive here with their camels and goats, which compete with local herbivores for the grass. Though there is a proposal for a tiger reserve, there are extensive encroachments inside the sanctuary. It is doubtful if these people could be shifted (Biswajit Mohanty pers. comm. 2004). The core area of Sunabeda could be increased southwards across the Indra nullah (stream), to add 30,000 ha of forest without human habitation (Kotwal 1997).
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 17/05/2022.