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Location India, Assam
Central coordinates 90o 22.00' East  26o 18.50' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 5,300 ha
Altitude 30 - 455m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society



Site description The Chakrashila complex includes the Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary (4,556 ha) and three adjacent wetlands - Dhir, Diplai and Dakra. The Sanctuary is 68 km from Dhubri, the district headquarters, and 219 km from Guwahati city. The nearest Railway Station is Kokrajhar, which is on the broad gauge line from Howrah to Guwahati. The Sanctuary can be approached from Salkocha, a small town on the National Highway 37, from where Chakrasila is about 10 km. This IBA is an ideal spot for birdwatchers. Its biodiversity provides many niches for several species of residential birds and attracts hundreds of migratory birds. The Sanctuary is hilly, with three lakes (Dhir, Diplai and Dakra) on its southern periphery. There are three major perennial springs inside the Sanctuary: Haohaowi Jhora, Mauriya Jhora and Bamuni Jhora. The Asian Wetland Bureau, and the International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Bureau have identified the first two lakes as internationally important sites for protection of a number of species. Dhir beel is situated 30 km from Kokrajhar town at the base of Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary. During the rainy season, these wetlands get connected with the Brahmaputra river. All these wetlands are rich in aquatic flora and fauna and are breeding grounds for fish. Together, these wetlands constitute more than 800 ha. The site has mainly Moist Deciduous Forest with Sal Shorea robusta as the dominant species. There are grasslands, shrubs and bamboo thickets also. This forest is richly endowed with orchids and other creepers.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: A total of 213 bird species are known to occur in the Sanctuary and the surrounding waterbodies (Barua 1995, Lahkar 2003). Chakrashila was a happy hunting ground for local landlords (Zamidars) and others even after it was declared as a reserve forest in 1966. Charaching of birds, mainly waterfowl, was also prevalent in the area before it was declared as wildlife sanctuary. This indiscriminate hunting led to the local extinction of a few species such as the Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis (Lahkar 2003). The Swamp Francolin was common in the area, mainly near the Chakrashila village and Dhir beel till the late eighties, but due to destruction of habitat in the form of agriculture, settlements, firewood and thatch collection, felling and over hunting it has been wiped out gradually from the area (Lahkar 2003). However, some globally threatened species are still seen, namely Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius, Lesser Adjutant L. javanicus and two Gyps species of vultures. Among the Near Threatened species, we have Darter Anhinga melanogaster, Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca, Greater Greyheaded Fish-Eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus, Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus, Great Pied Hornbill Buceros bicornis and Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus (Lahkar 2003). Both wetlands, Dhir and Diplai, attract a lot migratory birds in winter including Near Threatened Ferruginous Duck and the Vulnerable Baer’s Pochard Aythya baeri. On January 11, 1991 during the mid-winter Annual Waterfowl Census, 565 Ferruginous Ducks were counted in the Diplai beel and c. 500 in the Dhir beel on January 9, 1991 and 328 on January 8, 1992 (Choudhury 2000). Based on the AWC, Choudhury (2000) has listed Baer’s Pochard records from Diplai beel: 118 were reported in 1989 and 53 in 1990. In Dhir beel, 26 Baer’s Pochard were reported in 1989, and 55 in in 1990. As the AWC data are not very reliable, these figures have to be considered with caution. The Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga was recorded in Dakra beel in 1995 (Barua 1995). According to Lopez and Mundkur (1997), 19,828 birds of 43 species were counted in 1994 in Dhir beel during Annual Waterfowl Count. In 1995, the population increased to 26,433 but the number of species remained same. The population declined in 1996 to only 7,102 but the number of species seen was 41. In the Diplai beel, in 1994, the total number of waterfowl was 3,224 of 37 species. For Dakra beel, we have census information of 1996. A total of 2,409 birds of 20 species were counted. Lahkar (2003) observed three immatures along with two adults of the Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni in the Sanctuary. This suggests the possibility of breeding of this species inside the Sanctuary. The site falls in the Assam Plains Endemic Bird Area (Stattersfield et al. 1998) but the terrain of the Sanctuary is hilly, while the surrounding areas are plain, having a mixture of beels and wet grasslands. Three species have been listed in this EBA: Manipur Bush-Quail Perdicula manipurensis, Marsh Babbler Pellorneum palustre and Black-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis flavirostris. Only Marsh Babbler is likely to occur here as some good patches of agrassland are still found.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: At least 34 species of mammals have been recorded so far in Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary, out of which 6 species are globally threatened. Some of the important mammals include the Golden Langur Trachypithecus geei, Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta, Chinese Pangolin Manis pentadactyla, Crab-eating Mongoose Herpestes urva, Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard P. pardus, Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Gaur Bos frontalis, Hoary-bellied Himalayan Squirrel Callosciurus pygerythrus, Particoloured Flying Squirrel Hylopetes alboniger and Golden Jackal Canis aureus. A variety of reptiles and amphibians are also found in this site such as Kraits Bungarus spp., Cobras Naja spp., Python Python molurus and Monitor Lizard Varanus sp.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri winter  2004  present  A1, A4i  Critically Endangered 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca winter  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius breeding  2004  present  A1  Endangered 
Pallas's Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
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)  
Chakrasila Sanctuary 4,556 protected area contained by site 4,556  

Habitats

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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
Notes: Fishing
forestry -
Notes: Forestry
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature Conservation
tourism/recreation -
Notes: Tourism and recreation

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Nature’s Beckon, Bablu Dey, Kulojyoti Lahkar and Mridu Paban Phukan.

References 

Barua, M. (1995) Bird observations from Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary and adjacent areas: Newsletter for Birdwatchers 35(5); 93-94.

Choudhury, A. U. (2000) The Birds of Assam. Gibbon Books and World Wide Fund for Nature-Northeast Regional Office, Guwahati. Pp. 240.

Lahkar, K. (2003) Birds of Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary and adjacent areas. Unpublished. Pp. 10.

Lopez, A. and Mundkur, T. (eds.) (1997) The Asian Waterfowl Census: 1994-1996. Results of the Coordinated Waterbird Census and Overview of the Status of Wetlands in Asia. Wetlands International, Kaula Lumpur. Pp. 118.

Stattersfield, A. J., Crosby, M. J., Long, A. J. and Wege, D. C. (1998) Endemic Bird Areas of the World: Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation. BirdLife Conservation Series No. 7. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Chakrashila Complex. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/11/2014

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