Vazhachal Forest Division

Country/territory: India

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

Area: 41,300 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2003 not assessed low not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2004 baseline)
Vazhachal Forest Division falls in Mukundapuram taluka of Trichur district and Aluva taluka of Ernakulam district. The division started functioning from April 26, 1985. It is a long and narrow tract of about 413 sq. km (Karim 1990). The Division comprises of five forest ranges, namely Athirappalli, Charpa, Vazhachal, Kollathirumedu and Sholayar. The highly undulating terrain varies from 200 m to a maximum height of 1,300 m (Karimala Komban in Sholayar Range). These forests are situated on the western slope of the Western Ghats and therefore receive copious amount of rainfall. The eastern side of the division is more rugged than the west. Most parts of Vazhachal Reserve Forest (RF) consist of West Coast Tropical Wet Evergreen, West Coast Tropical Semi-evergreen and Southern Tropical Moist Mixed Deciduous forests. The rest of the area is under various plantations. In the Tropical Evergreen Forests we find Dipterocarpus, Vateria, Palaquium, and Machilus spp. Semievergreen forests consist of Artocarpus, Hopea and Tetramelus as dominant. In the areas with Moist Deciduous vegetation, we generally find Tectona grandis, Dalbergia, Lagerstroemia, Pterocarpus, Terminalia, Grewia, Bombax and Emblica spp.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: In a five-day survey in April 1996, 139 species of birds were recorded by Nameer and Cheeran (1996), of which 24 were migrants. Susanth Kumar (1996) has recorded 120 species from Vazhachal-Sholayar. Detailed study in different months would reveal more species, as many forest birds could not be seen or identified (especially warblers). The sighting of Malabar Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros coronatus was noteworthy. This is one of the uncommon hornbills of the Western Ghats with patchy distribution (Nameer and Cheeran 1996). Other uncommon birds seen were Great Pied Hornbill Buceros bicornis, Great-eared Nightjar Eurostopodus macrotis, Rufous-bellied Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus kienerii, Darter Anhinga melanogaster, and Broad-billed Roller Eurystomus orientalis. Although no globally threatened species was sighted in this IBA, there are chances of occurrence of Nilgiri Wood Pigeon Columba elephinstonii, as this bird moves around in search of fruiting trees. Suitable habitat for this species (wet evergreen and semi- evergreen forest) is present in this site. Vazhachal RF lies in Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area (EBA). Sixteen species have been identified in this EBA (Stattersfield et al. 1998). Six have been listed by Nameer and Cheeran (1996). The site lies in Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forest) where nine out of 15 biome-restricted species have been seen till now, but more are likely to occur as the habitat is still intact. This site fits two IBA criteria: A2 (Restricted Range species: EBA), and A3 (Biome-restricted assemblages). It is also included in the IBA list as the site has good representative of Tropical Secondary Evergreen, Tropical Wet Evergreen and Tropical Moist Deciduous Forest of the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Checklist of mammals and other taxa is not available with us but looking at the extent of natural forests, the following widespread species are likely to be present: Leopard Panthera pardus, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Spotted Deer Axis axis, Mouse Deer Moschiola meminna, Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus, Nilgiri Langur Trachypithecus johni, Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus and Indian Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica.

Key contributors: P. O. Nameer and Jacob V. Cheeran.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Vazhachal Forest Division. Downloaded from on 27/09/2023.