Tso Lhamo Plateau - Lashar - Sebu La - Yumesamdong Complex

Country/territory: India

IBA criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 50,000 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) Threat (pressure) Condition (state) Action (response)
2014 very high near favourable negligible
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (baseline)
Tso Lhamo Plateau, Lashar, Sebu La and Yumesamdong complex is typical cold desert on Tibetan Plateau and trans-Himalyan facies, with high snow mountains and glaciers, lakes and geothermal springs and vast valleys with grasses, sedges, cushionoid vegetation, lichens and associated fauna. In this Reserve Forest on the international border with Tibet (China), heavy military deployment has caused a network of roads on the plateau with military establishment mostly near glacial lakes of Gyam Tsona and Tso Lhamo. The area has a short growing season from May to October with peak in July-August when most of the birds breed. This eco-region has not yet been included in the protected area network of the State and is perhaps the most threatened as it contains many endangered species (protected under Schedules I and II of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, such as the Tibetan Wild Ass or Kiang Equus kiang, Nayan Ovis ammon and Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis. This IBA seeks to link the Tso Lhamo Plateau with the Lashar, Sebu La Yumesamdong section, reaching southwards to touch the Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forests below Yumesamdong and around Thangu in North Sikkim.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: A total of around 227 birds have been recorded from this c. 500 sq. km area, including four globally threatened species, three Restricted Range species and 93 Biome-restricted species (Ganguli-Lachungpa and Rahmani 2003). One of these, Babax waddelli, is reported only from extreme northeast Sikkim from 2,700-4,400 m in the Tibetan Plateau facies (EBA-133) in Hippophae thickets. It is found in dense deciduous scrub above tree-line and edge of coniferous forest (Stattersfield et al. 1998). It is reported as ‘locally common’ (Ali and Ripley 1987). This site in the Eastern Himalayas Endemic Bird Area is the highest altitude eco-region in Sikkim spanning two biomes, Sino- Himalayan Temperate Forest (Biome-7) and Eurasian High Montane (Alpine and Tibetan) (Biome-5) as described by BirdLife International (undated). Of the 48 Biome-5 (Eurasian High Montane - Alpine and Tibetan) species, 35 occur here and of the 112 Biome-7 (Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest) species, at least 12 are from here. More are likely to be found after detailed investigations. The important breeding bird species recorded here are Tibetan Snowcock Tetraogallus tibetanus, Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis, Brahminy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea, Common Redshank Tringa totanus, Tibetan Sandgrouse Syrrhaptes tibetanus, Snow Pigeon Columba leuconota, Robin Accentor Prunella rubeculoides, Guldenstadt’s Redstart Phoenicurus erythrogaster, Plain Mountain Finch Leucosticte nemoricola, Black-headed Mountain Finch Leucosticte brandti, Mandelli’s Snowfinch Pyrgilauda taczanowskii, Tibetan Snowfinch Montifringilla adamsi, Plain-backed Snowfinch Pyrgilauda blanfordi, Rufous-necked Snowfinch Pyrgilauda ruficollis, Hume’s Groundpecker Pseudopodoces humilis, Yellow-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus, Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus, Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos and Little Owl Athene noctua. Some of the non-breeding birds are Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni, Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus and Common Hoopoe Upupa epops. A pair of Brown-headed Gull Larus brunnicephalus was sighted on Lake Tso Lhamo in May 2003 (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2003).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The larger mammals show local migration in search of food and shelter, while strictly resident animals are generally burrowdwelling and spend the severe winter hibernating.

Important fauna include Kiang, Nayan, Tibetan Gazelle Procapra picticaudata, Blue Sheep Pseudois nayaur, Brown Bear Ursus arctos, Snow Leopard Uncia uncia, Lynx Lynx lynx, Red Fox Vulpes vulpes and Wolf Canis lupus, all nine species protected under Schedule I of the Indian Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972.

The Snow Leopard and Nayan are globally threatened. Smaller animals include Woolly Hare Lepus oiostolus, Himalayan Marmot Marmota himalayana, Himalayan Mouse-Hare Ochotona roylei, Voles Alticola spp., and Long-eared Bat Plecotus auritus. Sikkim Snow Toads Scutiger sikkimensis and S. boulengeri inhabit almost all the wetlands in the area. Interestingly, Snow Toads are found in the brackish lake Gyam Tsona, the freshwater glacial lake Tso Lhamo and also in thermally active areas like Lake Gurudongmar and the Yumesamdong hot springs found in this IBA.

Key contributors: Tim Inskipp and Usha Lachungpa.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Tso Lhamo Plateau - Lashar - Sebu La - Yumesamdong Complex. Downloaded from on 06/06/2023.