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Location India, Assam
Central coordinates 92o 52.50' East  25o 0.17' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 80,000 ha
Altitude 100 - 1,959m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description The Barail Range forms one of the most diverse, but lesser known, ecosystems of the region. The great altitudinal variations (from less than 100 m to towering peaks of more than 1,900 m) and the resultant diversity of vegetation, coupled with a rich faunistic composition, makes the area an ideal choice for a wildlife reserve and an IBA. The Barail is the highest hill range in Assam. It includes the North Cachar Hill Reserve Forest (RF) of Cachar district, Barail RF of Cachar and North Cachar Hills districts and the unclassified forests stretching from the Simleng river valley in the west to Laike in the east (in North Cachar Hills district). The Barail Range is the watershed between the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers. The terrain ranges from flat and undulating in the river valleys, to mountainous with steep slopes. The highest peak is 1,959 m near Laike, while Hamplopet (1,867 m) is the second highest, both of which are outside reserve forests. The climate is tropical monsoon type. The Barail forests are biologically important, with a number of endangered species (Choudhury 1993). Hill rivers and streams such as the Simleng (Luva), Jatinga and Modhura rivers are the main water sources, along with an unrecorded number of nullahs that feed the rivers. The annual rainfall varies from 2,000 mm to more than 6,000 mm. The westernmost part of the range receives the heaviest rainfall in Assam (Choudhury 1993). The undulating foothills in the south and the plains beyond have been extensively converted to tea gardens and settled cultivation, respectively. The main secondary landscape elements are cultivated flatland, extensive bamboo brakes, tree plantations (Teak Tectona grandis, Sal Shorea robusta), secondary and disturbed forest (betel-vine plantation), and village gardens including Arecanut Palm plantations. Vegetation is Tropical Evergreen at low elevations (below 1,000 m), Semi-evergreen in the areas of human disturbance, and Sub- Tropical Broadleaf in the upper reaches (>1,800 m). Champion and Seth (1968) classified it as Cachar Tropical Evergreen Forest, Cachar Tropical Semi-evergreen Forest and Subtropical Broadleaf Hill Forest. The undisturbed riparian patches are rich in palms and canes. Large patches of Wild banana occur in the openings of moist forest and along waterways.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: This site was selected as an IBA based on its exceptionally rich bird life, including many threatened species. The high avian diversity of the Barails was documented long ago (Baker 1922- 30, Hume 1877, 1880). The only known population of Blyth’s Tragopan Tragopan blythii in Assam is in the extreme east of the Barails near Laike. The only known breeding site of the Cinereus Vulture Aegypius monarch tenuirostris in Assam was also in the Barails. The Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus is seen in the southern valleys, while there are past records of the Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis from the southwestern fringe (Choudhury 2000). The site covers two biomes: Biome-8 (Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forests) at c. 1,000 to 2,000 m and Biome-9 (Indo- Chinese Tropical Moist Forest) mainly below c. 1,000 m. BirdLife International (undated) has listed 95 species in Biome-8, of which nine are found here. Two out of nine species listed in Biome-9 are also present. Both are quite common in the Tropical Moist Forests. As can be expected, some species of other biomes are also found, mainly as winter migrants. For example, Grey-backed Shrike Lanius tephronotus (Biome-5: Eurasian High Montane and Tibetan) is seen in winter, while Hill Partridge Arborophila torqueola is seen at the higher reaches of this site.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The Barail Range has rich mammalian fauna. Seven species of primates are found, these are: Slow Loris Nycticebus coucang, Stump-tailed Macaque Macaca arctoides, Assamese Macaque M. assamensis, Rhesus Macaque M. mulatta, Pigtailed Macaque M. nemestrina, Capped Langur Trachypithecus pileatus and Hoolock Gibbon Hylobates hoolock. Other mammals include the Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus, Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard P. pardus, Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa, Jungle Cat Felis chaus, Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis, Golden Cat Catopuma temminckii, Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata, Wild Dog Cuon alpinus, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Muntjak Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Wild Boar Sus scrofa, Binturong Arctictis binturong and the Serow Nemorhaedus sumatraensis. Small populations of Gaur Bos frontalis also occur. Asian Elephant Elephas maximus is locally extinct now. Common reptiles include various species of lizards and snakes throughout the site. The Brown Hill Tortoise Manouria emys is also met with occasionally.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Blyth's Tragopan Tragopan blythii resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
White-winged Duck Asarcornis scutulata resident  2004  present  A1  Endangered 
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Yellow-vented Warbler Phylloscopus cantator winter  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Striped Laughingthrush Garrulax virgatus resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Brown-capped Laughingthrush Garrulax austeni resident  2004  present  A2  Least Concern 
Grey Sibia Heterophasia gracilis resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Beautiful Sibia Heterophasia pulchella resident  2004  present  A2  Least Concern 
White-naped Yuhina Yuhina bakeri resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

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

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - shifting agriculture happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - agro-industry plantations happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) 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 long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture (Jhum)
forestry -
Notes: Forest

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Anwaruddin Choudhury, Aysegul Birand and Samrat Pawar.


Baker, E. C. S. (1922-30) The Fauna of British India-Birds. 8 vols. Taylor and Francis, London.

Birand, A. and Pawar, S. (2001) A survey of birds in Northeast India. Final Report, Centre for Ecological Research and Conservation, Mysore.

BirdLife International (undated) Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of Asia. Project Briefing Book. Pp. 103 Unpublished.

Champion, H. G. and Seth, S. K. (1968) A revised survey of forest types of India, Govt. of India Press, Delhi.

Choudhury, A. U. (1989) Campaign for Wildlife Protection: National park in the Barails. The WWF-India Quarterly No. 69.10 (2): 4-5.

Choudhury, A. U. (1993) Potential Biosphere Reserves in Assam (India). Tigerpaper 20(1): 2-8.

Choudhury, A. U. (2000) Birds of Assam, Gibbon Books and WWF-India NE Region, Guwahati.

Hume, A. O. (1877) A first list of the birds of northeastern Cachar. Stray Feathers 5: 1-47.

Hume, A. O. (1880) A second list of the birds of northeastern Cachar. Stray Feathers 9: 241-259.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Barail Range. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

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