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Location India, Andhra Pradesh
Central coordinates 78o 28.00' East  13o 41.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2
Area 940 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society



Site description Horsley Hills in Chittoor district are a part of the Eastern Ghats. The hills were named after M. W. H. Horsley, a member of the British Indian Civil Service (Subramanya and Prasad 1996). The Hills lie within the Horsley Konda Reserve Forest and comprise an area of 4,700 ha, with a total of 13 peaks, of which seven are above 1,000 m, the highest being 1,347 m (Subramanya and Prasad 1992). Prior to 1850, when Horsley took a fancy to this place, the hills were known as Enugu Mallamma Konda. The ruins of an old fort indicate that the hills had great local importance. Recently, stone age tools were unearthed, giving these hills archaeological importance as well. The Chenchu tribe who inhabit the Horsley Hills keep Pungannur cows, known for their milk yielding capacity and low fodder requirement. The Horsley Hills are popular among local tourists who go to see their natural beauty and to escape from the heat of the plains. The Mallamma temple is another major tourist and pilgrim centre. The habitat is predominantly Dry Deciduous, with a small patch of Moist Deciduous forest. The habitat structure has changed completely due to extensive plantations of Eucalyptus. The wild vegetation, wherever present, is highly disturbed. This site is well known to Indian ornithology as Jerdon (1863) possibly obtained type specimens of the globally threatened Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus (Whistler and Kinnear 1932). The natural vegetation of the hills is represented by trees such as Diospyros melanoxylon, Emblica officinalis, Albizzia amara, Ficus religiosa, Ficus tomentosa, Ficus bengalensis and Santalum album. Unfortunately, the natural vegetation has been replaced by plantations of Eucalyptus, Jacaranda, Allamanda and Delonix, especially at lower elevations.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Subramanya and Prasad (1996) have conducted studies in Horsley Hills on the Yellow-throated Bulbul. Four species of bulbuls were found by them: Red-vented Pycnonotus cafer, Red-whiskered P. jocosus, White-browed P. luteolus and Yellow-throated P. xantholaemus. Among the total of 158 bulbuls sighted, the Yellowthroated was the most abundant, while the Red-vented, otherwise very common, was the least abundant (Subramanya and Prasad 1996). The Yellow-throated Bulbul was mainly seen in densely vegetated, boulder-strewn hilly areas. Flocks of up to six birds were frequently seen. Since the collection of type species nearly 150 years ago, Horsley Hills could still be considered as the stronghold of this globally threatened bulbul, therefore, it was selected as an IBA. Besides the Yellow-throated Bulbul (BirdLife International 2001), Horsley Hills has 28 Biome-11 species (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone). BirdLife International (undated) has reported a total of 59 species from Biome-11. This biome includes a wide range of habitats, including forests and open country. Many of the species listed have adapted to manmodified habitats, so they are widespread and common. Many species have changed their distribution due to habitat modification over hundreds of years. Interestingly, Indian Scimitar-Babbler Pomatorhinus horsfieldii, restricted to the hills of peninsular India, is also found here. Similarly, Loten’s Sunbird Nectarinia lotenia, resident of well-wooded country of central and south India (Ali and Ripley 1987, Grimmett et al. 1998) is also reported from this IBA. Both species belong to Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forest) according to BirdLife International (undated). Some other Biome-10 species are also recorded from the hills. The Critically Endangered Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis is regularly sighted here. Subramanya and Prasad (1992) sighted 83 species of birds, including the Forest Wagtail Motacilla indica, possibly the third record from Andhra Pradesh, and the Blue-headed Rock Thrush Monticola cinclorhynchus, a species uncommon in the Eastern Ghats. The thrush winters mainly in the Western Ghats and Assam hills (Ali and Ripley 1987, Grimmett et al. 1999).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Important fauna includes the Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus, Wild Dog Cuon alpinus, Sambar Cervus unicolor and Leopard Panthera pardus. Beddome’s Coral Snake Calliophis beddomei, whose population is restricted to only four known locations (Anon. 2001) is found here.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   -
Rocky areas   -
Artificial - terrestrial   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
forestry -
Notes: Plantations
tourism/recreation -
Notes: Tourism and recreation

Acknowledgements Key contributor: S. Subramanya.

References 

Ali, S. and Ripley, S. D. (1987) Compact Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan (Second Edition). Oxford University Press, Delhi.

Anonymous (2001) Reptile CAMP Handbook. Vol. I, Reptiles Endemic to India. South Asian Reptile Network. Zoo Outreach Organization, Coimbatore.

BirdLife International (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia. The BirdLife International Red Data Book. 2 vol. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

BirdLife International (undated) Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Asia: Project briefing book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K., unpublished.

Grimmett, R., Inskipp, C. and Inskipp, T. (1998) Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Christopher Helm (Publishers) Ltd., London, U.K.

Jerdon, T. C. (1863) The Birds of India. Vol. 2, part 1. Published by the author, Calcuatta, pp. 84-86.

Prasanna, M. Belliappa, K. M. and Vittal, B. S. (1997) Birds of Horsley Hills. Newsletter for Birdwatchers 37(5): 76.

Subramanya, S. and Prasad, J. N. (1992) Birds of Horsley Hills. Newsletter for Birdwatchers 32 (9&10): 8-10.

Subramanya, S. and Prasad, J. N. (1996) Yellow-throated Bulbuls at Horsley Hills. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 93(1): 55-58.

Whistler, H. and Kinnear, N. B. (1932) Vernay Scientific survey of Eastern Ghats. Ornithology- Part 2. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 35: 737-760.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Horsley Hills. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/11/2014

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