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Location Nepal, Mahakali
Central coordinates 80o 11.00' East  28o 53.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i
Area 30,500 ha
Altitude 150 - 600m
Year of IBA assessment 2005

Bird Conservation Nepal (Partner Designate)



Site description Sukla Phanta lies in the extreme southwest of the terai in Kanchanpur district. The international border between Nepal and India demarcates the western boundary and also the southern boundary, beyond which lies the Luggabugga Florican Reserve in India. Some 54.7% of the reserve is covered by broadleaved forests of Sal Shorea robusta with forests of Sissoo Dalbergia sissoo and Khair Acacia catechu along rivers, and grassland and marsh in the southwest where soils are of recent alluvium. The rest consists of forests of Sal, Sissoo and Khair and savannah, supported by better-drained soils on higher terrain in the northeast (Schaaf 1978, Green 1993). The reserve possesses the largest grassland phantas in Nepal; these are of both national and international importance for birds and other wildlife. There are four small lakes, Rani Tal, Salghaudi Tal, Kalikitch Tal and Shikari Tal, which add significantly to the reserve's biodiversity.

Key Biodiversity Around 373 species of birds have been definitely recorded in the reserve, including 50% of Nepal's globally threatened species. Over half of these threatened species frequent grasslands, emphasizing the reserve's importance for this habitat type (Inskipp and Baral in prep.). The reserve supports by far the largest population of Bengal Florican in Nepal (Inskipp and Inskipp 1983, Tamang and Baral 2000). Sukla Phanta also holds the large majority of Nepal’s wintering population of Hodgson’s Bushchat Saxicola insignis and is the country’s only regular wintering site for the species (Baral 1998b). The reserve is also important for Swamp Francolin, White-rumped Vulture, Slender-billed Vulture, Lesser Adjutant, Bristled Grassbird, Jerdon's Babbler Chrysomma altirostre and Finn’s Weaver Ploceus megarhynchus. The last species, which was previously described as endemic to India (Ali and Ripley 1987), is one of two new bird species for Nepal that were found in Sukla Phanta in 1996 indicating that the grasslands were poorly surveyed at that time (Baral 1998c). Almost half (11 out of 23) of Nepal's near-threatened birds have been recorded at Sukla Phanta and seven of these are wetland species (Inskipp and Baral in prep.). The reserve has large areas of grasslands, and dry tropical and dry subtropical forests. These are known to support significant populations of species characteristic of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone and Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest biomes respectively.

Non-bird biodiversity: A total of 30 species of mammals has been reliably reported from here, including the following globally threatened species: Tiger Panthera tigris, Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Hispid Hare Caprolagus hispidus, Smooth-coated Otter Lutrogale perspicillata, Nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus, Barasingha (or Swamp Deer) Cervus duvaucelii and, also, Indian Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis, which has been recently reintroduced (Hilton-Taylor 2000). Sukla Phanta supports the largest population of the nominate race of Barasingha Cervus duvaucelii duvaucelii, in the world (Schaaf 1978). Sukla Phanta also has a healthy population of Mugger Crocodile Crocodylus palustris and Indian Python Python molurus.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Brown-headed Barbet Psilopogon zeylanicus resident  1989  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Lineated Barbet Psilopogon lineatus unknown  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis resident  2004  frequent  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus resident  1989  common  A3  Least Concern 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca winter  2004  uncommon  A1  Near Threatened 
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus resident  2004  frequent  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala resident  2004  uncommon  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus resident  2004  rare  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Red-naped Ibis Pseudibis papillosa resident  1989  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster resident  2004  frequent  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni winter  2004  uncommon  A1  Least Concern 
Pallas's Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus resident  2004  rare  A1  Vulnerable 
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis resident  2004  uncommon  A1, A3  Critically Endangered 
Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris resident  2004  uncommon  A1, A3  Critically Endangered 
Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus non-breeding  2004  uncommon  A1  Critically Endangered 
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus winter  2004  uncommon  A1  Near Threatened 
Indian Spotted Eagle Clanga hastata unknown  2004  rare  A1  Vulnerable 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  uncommon  A1  Vulnerable 
Lesser Fish-eagle Icthyophaga humilis unknown  2004  rare  A1  Near Threatened 
Grey-headed Fish-eagle Icthyophaga ichthyaetus resident  2004  frequent  A1  Near Threatened 
Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis resident  2004  frequent  A1, A3  Critically Endangered 
Lesser Florican Sypheotides indicus non-breeding  2004  rare  A1  Endangered 
Sarus Crane Antigone antigone unknown  2004  rare  A1  Vulnerable 
Yellow-wattled Lapwing Vanellus malarbaricus resident  1989  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Indian Courser Cursorius coromandelicus unknown  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-bellied Tern Sterna acuticauda non-breeding  2004  rare  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Yellow-footed Green-pigeon Treron phoenicopterus resident  1989  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Plum-headed Parakeet Psittacula cyanocephala resident  1989  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Sirkeer Malkoha Taccocua leschenaultii resident  1989  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Dusky Eagle-owl Bubo coromandus unknown  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Indian Nightjar Caprimulgus asiaticus resident  1989  rare  A3  Least Concern 
Indian Grey Hornbill Ocyceros birostris resident  1989  frequent  A3  Least Concern 
Dinopium benghalense resident  1989  frequent  A3  Not Recognised 
Yellow-crowned Woodpecker Leiopicus mahrattensis resident  1989  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
White-naped Woodpecker Chrysocolaptes festivus resident  1989  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus unknown  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Common Woodshrike Tephrodornis pondicerianus unknown  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus resident  1989  frequent  A3  Least Concern 
White-bellied Drongo Dicrurus caerulescens resident  1989  common  A3  Least Concern 
White-browed Fantail Rhipidura aureola resident  1989  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Rufous-winged Lark Mirafra assamica resident  1989  frequent  A3  Least Concern 
Indian Short-toed Lark Calandrella raytal unknown  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Ashy-crowned Sparrow-lark Eremopterix griseus resident  1989  frequent  A3  Least Concern 
Jungle Prinia Prinia sylvatica resident  1989  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Ashy Prinia Prinia socialis resident  1989  frequent  A3  Least Concern 
Bristled Grassbird Chaetornis striata breeding  2004  frequent  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Rufous-rumped Grassbird Graminicola bengalensis resident  2004  common  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
Tawny-bellied Babbler Dumetia hyperythra unknown  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Jerdon's Babbler Chrysomma altirostre resident  2004  rare  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Striated Babbler Turdoides earlei resident  1989  frequent  A3  Least Concern 
Jungle Babbler Turdoides striata resident  1989  frequent  A3  Least Concern 
Bank Myna Acridotheres ginginianus resident  1989  frequent  A3  Least Concern 
Brahminy Starling Sturnus pagodarum resident  1989  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicatus resident  1989  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
White-throated Bushchat Saxicola insignis winter  2004  frequent  A1  Vulnerable 
White-tailed Stonechat Saxicola leucurus resident  1989  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Jerdon's Bushchat Saxicola jerdoni unknown  2004  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-breasted Weaver Ploceus benghalensis resident  1989  frequent  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow Weaver Ploceus megarhynchus resident  2004  frequent  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola winter  2004  frequent  A1  Endangered 

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
Invasive and other problematic species and genes invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - unspecified species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Forest   0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Grassland   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Wetlands (inland)   0 0 moderate (70-90%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable

Houbaropsis bengalensis Bengal Florican 13 8 individuals 62 unfavourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Royal Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve 30,500 is identical to site 30,500  

Habitats

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

References Inskipp and Inskipp (1983), Khanal (1986), Bell (1987), Inskipp (1989a), Weaver (1991), Green (1993), Baral (1997a,b), Baral (1998a,b,c), Tamang and Baral (2000), WWF Nepal Program (2000a), Baral (2000b, 2001), Inskipp and Inskipp (2001b), Inskipp and Baral (in prep.).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/12/2014

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