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Location India, Andhra Pradesh
Central coordinates 80o 11.00' East  13o 40.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4iii
Area 60,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 10m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Pulicat lake is an extensive brackish to saline lagoon with associated marshes and a massive freshwater to brackish swamp to the north. There are two connections with the sea; in general, sea water enters the lagoon through the channel at the northern end of Sriharikota Island, and flows back into the Bay of Bengal through the channel at the southern end. The backwaters attract large congregations of the Greater Phoenicopterus ruber and Lesser P. minor flamingos, Spot-billed or Grey Pelican Pelecanus philippensis, Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala, Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, and species of ducks, teals, terns, gulls and waders. Pulicat is the third most important wetland for migratory shorebirds on the eastern board of India. Sriharikota Island, well protected as it is the satellite launching station of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has remnants of Tropical Dry Evergeen Forest of considerable botanical interest (Suryanarayana et al. 1989, 1998). On the other islands in the lake, where protection is negligible, the exotic Prosopis chilensis has invaded many areas (Scott 1989). In the elevated mudflats, succulent halophytes, such as Arthrocnemum indicus, Sesuvium portulacastrum, Salicornia brachiata, Suaeda maritima, S. monoica and S. nudiflora occur. Submerged macrophytes include species of Enteromorpha, Hypnea, Ulva, Halophila and Enhalus (Oswin 1987).

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 
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Pulicat Lake Sanctuary 15,367 protected area contained by site 15,367  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Dry evergreen forest (tropical)  minor
Coastline Lagoons  major
Wetlands (inland)   major

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
urban/industrial/transport -
Notes: Sea route; Space Research Centre

Acknowledgements Key contributors: V. Kannan and C. Ramakrishna.


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

Kannan, V. and Manakadan, R. (in press) Record of a Leopard Panthera pardus in Pulicat Lake. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc.

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

Oswin, S. D. (1987) A report on Pulicat Lake. PREPARE, Madras.

Panini, D. (1996) Rethinking wetland laws. A case study of Pulicat Bird Sanctuary. Occasional Paper Series. Centre for Environmental Law, WWF-India, New Delhi.

Prater, A. J., Merchant, J. H. and Vuorinen, J. (1977) Guide to the identification and ageing of Holarctic waders. BTO Guide 17. British Trust for Ornithology, Tring.

Ramesh, P. (1994) Pulicat Lagoon. Is conversion of this lagoon to freshwater reservoir possible An analysis. Centre for Water Resources, Anna University, Madras.

Rao, P. and Mohapatra, K. K. (1993) The wetland avifauna of Pulicat Bird Sanctuary, South India. Pp 11-14. In: Bird Conservation - Strategies for the nineties and beyond (Eds. Verghese, A. Sridhar, S. and Chakravarthy, A. K.), Ornithological Society of India, Bangalore.

Rao, P. and Mohapatra, K. K. (1994) Occurrence of certain bird species in and around Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary. Mayura 11: 6-8.

Scott, D. A. (1989) A Directory of Asian Wetlands. IUCN, The World Conservation Union.

Suryanarayana, B., Rao, A. S. Rao, A. M. and Veeraraju, V. (1998) Flora of Sriharikota Island. Technical Report: ISRO-SHAR-TR-99-98. Indian Space Research Organisation, Bangalore Suryanarayana, B., Rao, A. S. Rao, A. M. and Veeraraju, V. (1989) Report on the flora of Sriharikota Island, 2 volumes, Visvodaya Government College, Venkatagiri and SHAR Centre, Sriharikota.

Taher, S. A. and Pittie, A. (1989) A Checklist of Birds of Andhra Pradesh. Privately Published, Hyderabad.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Pulicat Lake. Downloaded from on 01/11/2014

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