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Location India, Andhra Pradesh
Central coordinates 81o 23.42' East  16o 47.53' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 67,300 ha
Altitude 0 - 5m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Kolleru is a large, natural, shallow, freshwater lake with associated marshes, situated between the Krishna and Godavari Rivers, c. 55 km east of Vijayawada and c. 25 km northwest of the coastline. The surface area of the lake is determined by the volume of monsoon run-off and is subject to wide fluctuation as water levels rise and fall. At maximum flooding of 3 m, the area of the lake is over 90,000 ha. At 1 m, it may fall to 13,000 ha. The lake drains into the Bay of Bengal through the Upputeru river. Occasionally, small amounts of salt water enter the otherwise freshwater lake through this river. The surrounding areas are mostly under agriculture. Kolleru was declared a Ramsar Site in November 2002. It regularly supports more than 50,000 waterfowl, due to which it was selected as an IBA. The vegetation is luxuriant and about 19 species of hydrophytes belonging to 13 angiosperm families are recorded (Seshavataram et al. 1982 quoted in Rao and Rao 1987). Almost the entire surface is covered with emergents and floating aquatics such as Ipomoea aquatica, Ottelia alismoides, Nymphoides indicum, Limnophila indica, Utricularia sp., Potamageton crispus, Nechamandara alternifolia, Chara sp. and Nitella sp. The surrounding areas are under intensive cultivation. Cultivated Coconut trees are abundant in this area.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: The site contains about 160 species of birds (Rao and Rao 1987). At one time, it was famous for a breeding colony of Spot-billed or Grey Pelican Pelecanus philippensis. Neelakantan (1949) and Gee (1960) described the Aredu-Sarepalle pelicanry. Aredu village near Kolleru had the largest known breeding population of Spot-billed Pelican in India, thanks to the protection provided by villagers (Krishnan 1981), but unfortunately this pelicanry disappeared in the 1970s due to unknown reasons. In the early 1960s, there were 1,500 nests. In 1968, less than 400 remained and by 1974, the colony had disappeared (Anon. 1991). The Spot-billed Pelican is now found occasionally in this lake. However, Kolleru still attracts thousands of waterfowl. During the mid-winter waterfowl count of 1988, more than 17,000 birds were reported from around 30% of the lake area (Scott 1989). The following year, 25,000 waterfowl were recorded, but this was probably due to better methodology used in counting (Anon. 1991). The most abundant duck was the Garganey Anas querquedula. Up to 10,000 were counted (Scott 1989). According to Wetlands International (2002), 1% biogeogrphic population threshold for this species is 2,500, so about 4% of the total non-breeding Garganeys of South Asia winter in this site. Similarly, about 1,000 Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans were counted, which also constitutes 4% of the known breeding population of South Asia because, according to Wetlands International (2002), there could be over 125,000 Asian Openbill in South Asia. Other common birds are the Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica, Larger Whistling Duck D. bicolor, Northern Pintail Anas acuta, Wigeon A. penelope, Northern Shoveler A. clypeata, Common Teal A. crecca, Red-crested Pochard Rhodonessa rufina, Purple Moorhen Porphyrio porphyrio, Pond Heron Ardeola grayii, Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Coot Fulica atra, Little Grebe or Dabchick Tachybaptus ruficollis, Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus, Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis, Chestnut Bittern I. cinnamomeus, Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis, Whitebreasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus, Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus and Blue-breasted or Slaty-breasted Rail Gallirallus striatus.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The lake supports rich fish fauna, including some endemic subspecies.

Sixty-three species of fish belonging to 29 families have been recorded in commercial catches (Dutt S. 1983, quoted in Rao and Rao 1987).

However, due to poor management and over-exploitation, the fish catch is going down. For instance, in 1974, nearly 7,000 tonnes was caught, but the catch decreased to 3,000 tonnes in 1985 (Anon. 1991).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Garganey Spatula querquedula 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis resident  2004  present  A1  Near Threatened 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2003 high not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture marine and freshwater aquaculture - industrial aquaculture happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: large scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather drought happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution garbage & solid waste happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Pollution industrial & military effluents - type unknown/unrecorded happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kolleru Sanctuary 67,300 is identical to site 67,300  
Kolleru Lake Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 90,100 unknown 0  


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
Notes: Agriculture - aquaculture ponds; Fishing

Acknowledgements Key contributor: IBA team.


Anonymous (1991) India’s Waterlogged Wealth. Sanctuary Asia 11(2): 84-92.

Dutt, S. (1983) Fishes of Lake Kolleru. In: Ecodevelopment of Kolleru lake. Status and approach document of INCOR, Visakhapatnam.

Gee, E. P. (1960) The breeding of the grey or spotted billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis philippensis Gmelin. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 57(2): 245-251.

Krishnan, M. (1981) Birds of Southern India. Illustrated Weekly of India. Vol. C II 23: 26-31.

Neelakantan, K. K. (1949) A South Indian Pelicanry. J. Bombay. Nat. Hist. Soc. 48 (4): 656-666.

Rao, G. R. and Rao, J. V. R. (1987) Kolleru Lake - Its Diversity and Avifauna. Cheetal 27(1&2): 47 - 48 Scott, D. (ed.) (1989) A Directory of Asian Wetlands. IUCN. Gland, Switzerland, and Cambridge, U.K., Seshavataram,V., Dutt, B. S. M. and Vanu, P. (1982) An ecological study of the vegetation of the Kolleru. Bul. Bot. Surv. Ind. 24(1-4): 70-75.

Wetland International (2002) Waterbird Population Estimates: Third Edition. Wetlands International Global Series No. 12. Wageningen, The Netherlands.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Kolleru Lake Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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