Upper Shillong

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 1,296 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2003 low not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
The Upper Shillong Protected Forest and adjacent areas (Riat Laban Reserve Forest and Laitkor Protected Forest) are located very close to Shillong the capital of Meghalaya, in East Khasi Hills district. These forests have a long history of protection and management, of more than a hundred years. In 1874 the Viceroy of India visited Shillong and directed the authorities to protect certain areas for timber production and for water conservation for Shillong city (Lyngwa 1997). Tourists and picnickers visit the area especially for the panoramic view of Shillong city. The terrain is undulating plateau, and contains some of the highest reaches of Meghalaya plateau. There are two high peaks in the area, Laitkor, and Shillong which gives its name to the capital city of Meghalaya. The forest around Shillong peak is a traditional sacred grove and was studied by the celebrated British botanist, L. M. Bor in the 20th century. In Upper Shillong, Riat Laban and Laitkor, two main forests types, Subtropical Pine and Broadleaf are seen. The broadleaf occurs mainly along nullahs and in the eastern side of the Indian Air Force base. The pine forest has only Khasi pine Pinus kesiya. In the Broadleaf, a few flowering trees such as Rhododendron formosum, R. arborea and Pyrus pashia still survive. A noteworthy tree species is the Oak Quercus griffithii. The fringe areas of the IBA are covered with short grass. Due to its location very close to a large town and presence of the Air Force base, a lot of modification and degradation has taken place.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Nearly 80 bird species have been recorded so far (Lahkar 2002), but there could be three times as many actually present. Robson (2000) has heard globally threatened Tawny-breasted Wren Babbler Spelaeornis longicaudatus near Shillong in mid-April. It appeared to be common, occurring in non-forest habitat (secondary growth, dense fern growth, etc.) as well as undergrowth in forest. This poorly known babbler qualifies as Vulnerable because it has a small, declining, severely fragmented population and range owing to clearance and degradation of moist evergreen forest (BirdLife International 2001). Three restricted range birds of the Eastern Himalaya were found here but again, this is based on preliminary short surveys. This IBA site is very rich in avifauna and further surveys would record many more restricted range species. Many species of Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest (Biome-7) and Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest (Biome-8) are found here. A few are listed below: Blyth’s Kingfisher Alcedo hercules, Golden-throated Barbet Megalaima franklinii, Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina melaschistos, Rufous-bellied Bulbul Hypsipetes mcclellandii, Black Bulbul H. leucocephalus, Golden Bush-Robin Tarsiger chrysaeus, Aberrant Bush-Warbler Cettia flavolivacea, Orange-barred Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus pulcher, Grey-faced Leaf-Warbler P. maculipennis, Orange-gorgeted Flycatcher Ficedula strophiata, Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus, Fire-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga ignicauda, Shortbilled Minivet Pericrocotus brevirostris, Crested Finchbill Spizixos canifrons, Grey-winged Blackbird Turdus boulboul, Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis, Red-billed Leiothrix Leiothrix lutea, Rusty-fronted Barwing Actinodura egertoni, Blue-winged Minla Minla cyanouroptera, Striated Yuhina Yuhina castaniceps, Grey-headed Flycatcher-Warbler Seicercus xanthoschistos, Black-spotted Yellow Tit Parus spilonotus, Streaked Spiderhunter Arachnothera magna.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Larger mammals have become extinct or a few that are surviving are very rare. So far the following species have been recorded: Flying fox Pteropus giganteus, Himalayan or Short-tailed mole Euroscaptor micrura, Mole-shrew or Szechuan Burrowing Shrew Anourosorex squamipes, Savi’s Pygmy Shrew Suncus etruscus, Grey Shrew Crocidura attenuata, Yellow-bellied Weasel Mustela kathiah and Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak. There was also a record of the Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa in the 1960s (A. Munim Mazumdar in litt. to A. U. Choudhury).

Key contributors: Kulojyoti Lahkar and Anwaruddin Choudhury..

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Upper Shillong. Downloaded from on 28/01/2022.