Tirap - Burhidihing

Year of compilation: 2004

Site description
This IBA site in extreme eastern Assam includes seven reserve forests and two proposed reserve forests. The reserve forests are Burhidihing-North and South Block (2,295 ha), Kotha (1,130 ha), Namphai (2,100 ha), Tinkopani (3,030 ha), Tirap (1,454 ha), Tipong (445 ha) and additions to Tirap and Tipong (4, 995 ha). This IBA covers plains of the Burhi-Dihing River, as well as the foothills of Patkai Range. All these areas bear tropical rainforest and are known strongholds of the endangered White-winged Duck Cairina scutulata (Choudhury 1996a, 1998). The Masked Finfoot Heliopais personata has been also reported (Choudhury 1997). These forests are also rich in primates and other wildlife. A national highway and other roads pass through the area, making it accessible to a great extent. The approach to Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh is through this area and the habitat is still contiguous. The vegetation of the site is mainly Tropical Wet Evergreen type, with Dipterocarpus macrocarpus, Shorea assamica, Terminalia myriocarpa, Artocarpus chaplasha, Dillenia indica, and Ficus spp. dominating. The important grasses are Arundo donax, Phragmites karka, Imperata cylindrica, and Saccharum spp. found along riverbanks and in depressions.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Except for surveys by Choudhury (1996a, 1998) in search of White-winged Duck, not much work has been done on avifauna in this area. This site is extremely rich in birds, especially hornbills, pheasants and other forest birds. Most of the Indian bird species of the Indo-Chinese Tropical Moist Forests (Biome-9) are likely to be found in this IBA, besides species of other biomes (5, 7, 8, and 11) in winter. The important biome bird species are the Grey Peacock Pheasant Polyplectron bicalcaratum, Mountain Bamboopartridge Bambusicola fytchii, Masked Finfoot Heliopais personata, Himalayan Flameback or Golden-backed Woodpecker Dinopium shorii, Blue-throated Barbet Megalaima asiatica, Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis, Brown Hornbill Anorrhinus tickelli, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush Garrulax pectoralis, Himalayan treepie Dendrocitta formosae, White-throated Bulbul Alophoixus flaveolus, Rufous-bellied Niltava Niltava sundara, and Nepal Fulvetta Alcippe nipalenis. Detailed investigation on the bird life is required. Presently, we do not have information on the Restricted Range species, if any, found here. Similarly, information on biome-restricted assemblages is lacking. As the forest is largely intact, this site is extremely important for the protection of many forests birds.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Tirap-Burhidihing IBA is rich in mammalian fauna. Seven species of primates are found there: Hoolock Gibbon Hylobates hoolock, Capped Langur Trachypithecus pileatus, Pigtailed Macaque Macaca nemestrina, Stump-tailed macaque M. arctoides, Rhesus Macaque M. mulatta, Assamese Macaque M. assamensis and Slow Loris Nycticebus coucang (Choudhury 1996b). The site is known for its large herds of Asian Elephant Elephas maximus. Major carnivores are Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard P. pardus and Wild Dog Cuon alpinus. Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus is also reported.

Malayan Giant Squirrel Ratufa bicolor and Common Giant Flying Squirrel Petaurista petaurista live in the closed canopy forest areas.

Sambar Cervus unicolor and Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, as well as Gaur Bos frontalis are the major herbivores.

The reptiles and amphibians found in this IBA are not well recorded.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: Illegal felling of trees; Encroachment; Fishing; Opportunistic capture of Whitewinged ducklings and collection of eggs; Poaching; Coal mining in the vicinity.

Encroachment has been a major issue in Kotha and Namphai areas. Most of the former forest is already under the plough. Fishing in the jungle pools that are habitats of the endangered White-winged Duck, and illegal felling are the other main issues. There is open cast coal mining just outside the site, which is a major environmental issue for this part of Assam. Namphai Reserve Forest was recommended as a sanctuary (Choudhury 1996a) but the issue is still pending with the government. The lowland tropical rain forest has mostly disappeared from Assam (and other parts of India), therefore, protection of this site is crucial, not only for threatened birds but also for many mammals and reptiles included in the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.

Key contributors: Anwaruddin Choudhury and Kulojyoti Lahkar.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Tirap - Burhidihing. Downloaded from on 10/08/2022.