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Location Nepal, Koshi,Sagarmatha
Central coordinates 87o 4.00' East  26o 35.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i, A4iii
Area 21,000 ha
Altitude 75 - 81m
Year of IBA assessment 2005

Bird Conservation Nepal (Partner Designate)



Site description Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve occupies 17,500 ha of the Sapta Koshi River floodplain at the most northeasterly extension of the Gangetic Plain. It ranges in altitude from 75-81 m (Green 1993). The reserve is located between two flood control embankments and is subject to annual flooding. Approximately 70% of the reserve's land area is covered in grasslands (Heinen 1993), although during high flood years a large area of grassland is destroyed and replaced by new alluvial deposits. Typha and Saccharum are major grassland types found here, although patches of Imperata and Phragmites are often seen (Peet et al. 1999a). Medium size phantas interspersed with young Acacia trees are found in sandy islands. Riverine vegetation with Acacia catechu/Dalbergia sissoo forest dominates on the islands and edges of the reserve. Mostly young trees grow inside and on the edges of the reserve within embankments, the old mature trees being swept away by annual floods. South of Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve lies the Koshi Barrage area. The area is 7 km from north to south and nearly 5 km from east to west. More than 50% of the land area at the barrage is covered by water, and the remaining land area is subject to intensive agriculture. The barrage gates are regulated by the Indian Government according to a 99-year lease agreement between Nepal and India.

Key Biodiversity The large number of 486 bird species has been recorded in the Koshi Tappu and Barrage area (Baral 2000c, Giri and Choudhary 2000ab, 2001ab, 2002abc, 2003ab, 2004ab, in prep., Tebb et al. 2004). Koshi is by far the most important wetland staging post for migrating waders and waterfowl in Nepal (Inskipp and Inskipp 1991) and was considered one of the most important in Asia (Scott 1989). Koshi Tappu also has the largest heronry in Nepal (Baral 1993), where as many as 25,730 nests belonging to 12 species of medium to large waders were reported in 1996 (Choudhary 1996b). As many as 20 globally threatened bird species have been recorded in the Koshi Tappu and Koshi Barrage area and eleven of these occur regularly. This IBA is especially important for some wetland and grassland species, notably Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis, Baer’s Pochard Aythya baeri, Pallas’s Fish Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus, Greater Spotted Eagle, Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, Lesser Adjutant, Spot-billed Pelican and Bristled Grassbird Chaetornis striatus. It holds the largest population of the globally threatened Swamp Francolin in Nepal (Baral 1998a), and also supports a good population of the Bristled Grassbird (Baral in prep.). The site is also important for Nepal's near-threatened birds; 13 of the country’s total of 23 occur and eight of these are wetland birds. Only two restricted-range species have been recorded and both are rare visitors. A marked decline in wintering and passage migrant waterbird has been noted since 1990 and has been highlighted by the Annual Waterfowl Counts. In February 2003 a total of nearly 9,800 birds was counted at the site in one day, a very low number compared to twenty years ago when more than 50,000 birds were estimated (Choudhary 2003).

Non-bird biodiversity: The reserve contains Nepal's last population of Asian Buffalo Bubalus bubalis, a globally threatened species (Hilton-Taylor 2000). Other globally threatened species include Ganges River Dolphin Platanista gangetica, Nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus, Smooth-coated Otter Lutrogale perspicillata, Gharial Gavialis gangeticus and Mugger Crocodile Crocodylus palustris (Hilton-Taylor 2000).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Lineated Barbet Psilopogon lineatus resident  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis resident  2004  frequent  A1  Vulnerable 
Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri winter  2004  uncommon  A1  Critically Endangered 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca winter  2004  frequent  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus resident  2004  frequent  A1  Vulnerable 
Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius non-breeding  2004  rare  A1  Endangered 
Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala breeding  2004  uncommon  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus resident  2004  frequent  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus resident  2004  frequent  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Red-naped Ibis Pseudibis papillosa resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis non-breeding  2004  uncommon  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster resident  2004  uncommon  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Falco chicquera resident  1989  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni winter  2004  uncommon  A1  Least Concern 
Laggar Falcon Falco jugger non-breeding  2004  rare  A1  Near Threatened 
Pallas's Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus winter  2004  rare  A1  Vulnerable 
White-tailed Sea-eagle Haliaeetus albicilla winter  2004  rare  A1  Least Concern 
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis resident  2004  rare  A1, A3  Critically Endangered 
Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris resident  2004  rare  A1, A3  Critically Endangered 
Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus non-breeding  2004  rare  A1  Critically Endangered 
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus winter  2004  rare  A1  Near Threatened 
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus winter  2004  rare  A1  Near Threatened 
Indian Spotted Eagle Clanga hastata non-breeding  2004  rare  A1  Vulnerable 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  rare  A1  Vulnerable 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca winter  2004  rare  A1  Vulnerable 
Grey-headed Fish-eagle Icthyophaga ichthyaetus unknown  2004  rare  A1  Near Threatened 
White-eyed Buzzard Butastur teesa resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis non-breeding  2004  rare  A1  Critically Endangered 
Lesser Florican Sypheotides indicus breeding  2004  rare  A1  Endangered 
Yellow-wattled Lapwing Vanellus malarbaricus resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Indian Courser Cursorius coromandelicus unknown  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis breeding  2004  rare  A1  Vulnerable 
Black-bellied Tern Sterna acuticauda resident  2004  unknown  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Yellow-footed Green-pigeon Treron phoenicopterus resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Blossom-headed Parakeet Psittacula roseata unknown  2004  present  A3  Near Threatened 
Plum-headed Parakeet Psittacula cyanocephala resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sirkeer Malkoha Taccocua leschenaultii unknown  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Dusky Eagle-owl Bubo coromandus resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Indian Grey Hornbill Ocyceros birostris resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Dinopium benghalense resident  1989  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Common Woodshrike Tephrodornis pondicerianus unknown  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-headed Cuckooshrike Coracina melanoptera breeding  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-bellied Drongo Dicrurus caerulescens resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-browed Fantail Rhipidura aureola unknown  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Rufous-winged Lark Mirafra assamica resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Indian Short-toed Lark Calandrella raytal resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Ashy-crowned Sparrow-lark Eremopterix griseus resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey-crowned Prinia Prinia cinereocapilla resident  2004  rare  A1  Vulnerable 
Ashy Prinia Prinia socialis resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bristled Grassbird Chaetornis striata breeding  2004  frequent  A1  Vulnerable 
Striated Babbler Turdoides earlei resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Jungle Babbler Turdoides striata resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bank Myna Acridotheres ginginianus resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chestnut-tailed Starling Sturnus malabaricus resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicatus unknown  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-throated Bushchat Saxicola insignis winter  2004  rare  A1  Vulnerable 
White-tailed Stonechat Saxicola leucurus resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Jerdon's Bushchat Saxicola jerdoni unknown  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Indian Chat Cercomela fusca unknown  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Kashmir Flycatcher Ficedula subrubra passage  2004  rare  A1  Vulnerable 
Black-breasted Weaver Ploceus benghalensis resident  1989  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow Weaver Ploceus megarhynchus non-breeding  2004  rare  A1  Vulnerable 
Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola passage  2004  frequent  A1  Endangered 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2001  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2011 high unfavourable medium
Population
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive and other problematic species and genes invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - unspecified species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Wetlands (inland)   0 0 moderate (70-90%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable

Francolinus gularis Swamp Francolin 90 46 breeding pairs 52 unfavourable
Gyps bengalensis White-rumped Vulture 61 42 nests 69 unfavourable

Most of site (50-90%) covered (including the most critical parts for important bird species)  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Koshi Tappu Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 17,500 protected area contained by site 17,500  
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve 17,500 protected area contained by site 17,500  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   -
Wetlands (inland)   -

References Inskipp (1989a), Heinen (1993), Green (1993), Bhandari (1998), Pokharel (1998), Baral (2000c, 2002a, in press), Inskipp and Inskipp (1983, 2001b), Giri (2002), Baral and Inskipp (2004).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and Koshi Barrage. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/12/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife