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Location India, Andhra Pradesh
Central coordinates 79o 59.10' East  13o 50.23' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 440 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Nelapattu, named after village of the same name in Doravani Sathram Mandal of Nellore district, was notified as a bird sanctuary in 1976. The Sanctuary is divided into the following components: Kallur Reserve Forest Area (288.14 ha), Nelapattu Tank Area (82.56 ha) and Unreserved Forest Area (88.22 ha). The Sanctuary supports the largest pelicanry of Spot-billed or Grey Pelican Pelecanus philippensis in India. It is also a breeding site for the White or Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus, Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans, Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax, and Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger. It is a haven for a broad spectrum of bird species for both breeding and roosting. About 12 km from Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary lies village Vedurupattu, where hundreds of Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala breed (Philip et al. 1998). Both these sites can be considered as one IBA. The Sanctuary has Swamp Forests in the tank portion and Southern Dry Evergreen Scrub Forests in the Reserve and Unreserved Forest. The dominant species are Manilkara hexandra, Maba buxifolia and Buchanania angustifolia in the Reserve and Unreserved forests, and Barringtonia acutangula in the tank area.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: About 187 bird species are known to occur in the Sanctuary, of which 50 are migratory (Sharma and Raghavaiah 2002). The Grey or Spot-billed Pelican, White Ibis, Asian Openbill, Little Cormorant, Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia and the Blackcrowned Night Heron are some of the major breeders. Other waterfowl species include Dabchick Tachybaptus ruficollis, Northern Pintail Anas acuta, Common Teal A. crecca, Northern Shoveler A. clypeata, Garganey A. querquedula, Gadwall A. strepera, Coot Fulica atra, Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Darter Anhinga melanogaster, Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus and various egrets, terns and other waders. Nelapattu is one of the most important pelicanries in India, but the number of breeding pairs has decreased, judging from 1,500 nests during its heyday to 300-350 nests in 1980-81, and only 100 pairs in 1990 (Santharam 1993). V. Kannan of the BNHS counted 265 nests in 2002-2003, but according to the Forest Department, between 350 and 500 nests were present, and over 750 chicks hatched in the 2002-2003 season (N. Shiva Kumar in litt. 2003). Besides the Spot-billed Pelican, other species also breed in Nelapattu tank. In 1997, Philip et al. (1998) found 951 adults and chicks of Asian Openbill, 121 of White Ibis, 3445 of Little Cormorant, 182 of Black-crowned Night Heron, 337 of Little Egret, 152 of Cattle Egret and 76 of Little Grebe. In the village Vedurupattu, about 12 km from Nelapattu, Philip et al. (1998) reported more than 1300 Painted Stork adults and chicks. The birds nest right in the middle of the village on large trees and the villagers even raise the fallen chicks till they are able to fly. But according to Manakadan and Kannan (2003), breeding was not noticed during 2002 and 2003.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: There are no large mammals in the sanctuary. However, Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Black-naped Hare Lepus nigricollis, Monitor Lizard Varanus bengalensis, Tortoise and some species of snakes exist in the Sanctuary.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis resident  2004  present  A1  Near Threatened 

IBA Monitoring

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

Agriculture and aquaculture wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - small-holder plantations happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Climate change and severe weather storms and floods likely in short term (within 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of surface water (agricultural use) happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Nellapattu Sanctuary 440 is identical to site 440  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   -
Shrubland   -
Artificial - aquatic   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
Notes: Fishing
forestry -
Notes: Forestry

Acknowledgements Key contributors: V. Kannan and V. Santharam.


Manakadan, R. and Kannan, V. (2003) A study of Spot Billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis in Southern India with special reference to its Conservation. Final Report. Bombay Natural History Society.

Philip, V. M., Rao, A. N. J. and Sridhar, B. N. (1998) Birding at Nelapattu and Vedurupattu Bird Refuges, Andhra Pradesh. Newsletter for Birdwatchers 38(1):1-3.

Santharam, V. (1993) Nelapattu – Time to sound the Alarm. Mayura 10: 34-35.

Sharma, P. K. and Raghavaiah, P. S. (2002) Effect of rainfall on Grey Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) arriving and breeding at Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh. Indian Forester 10: 1101-1105.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 27/11/2015

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