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Location India, Assam
Central coordinates 91o 40.48' East  26o 7.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4iii
Area 414 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society



Site description Deepor Beel Bird Sanctuary, southwest of Guwahati city, is located in Kamrup (metropolitan) district, on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra river. The sanctuary is a permanent freshwater lake with abundant aquatic vegetation. Deepor is one of the largest of many such lakes or ‘beels’ in lower Assam. A Ramsar site, the Deepor beel covers an area of about 900 ha. At maximum flooding, it is c. 4 m deep, while during the dry season, the depth drops to about 1 m. The main sources of water of this lake are the Basistha and Kalamoni rivers, and local monsoon run-off between May and September. The Beel drains into the Brahmaputra river, located about 5 km away. About half of the Beel dries out during the winter and the exposed shores are converted into paddy fields. The southern side of the lake is contiguous with Rani Reserve Forest. The climate is humid and tropical monsoon, with a prolonged monsoon season from May to September, and a relatively cool, winter. A large variety of aquatic flora of tropical wetland are found in Deepor Beel and its adjoining areas. On one side, this IBA is surrounded by forest, with Terminalia belerica, Tectona grandis (plantation), Ficus bengalensis, and Bombax malabaricum as dominant tree species. The Giant Water Lily Euryale ferox is of considerable botanical and economic importance. Dominant aquatic plants include Eichhornia crassipes, Pistia stratiotes, Ottelia alismoides and Lemna minor. Most of the surrounding areas are under rice cultivation.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Around 150 species of birds have been recorded so far in and around the Sanctuary, including nine threatened species (A. U. Choudhury pers. comm. 2002). Barman et al. (1995) have studied the avifauna of this IBA. They found 62 species of waterbirds, including 16 species of Anatidae. Interestingly, they also mention 1,018 individuals of Baer’s Pochard Aythya baeri in their 1988- 89 survey, but subsequently the population declined to 250 in 1989- 90, 3 in 1990-91, 135 in 1991-92, and none in 1992-93. If the figure for 1988-89 is correct, it must be the largest known flock of this rare species ever reported from India. In the surrounding broadleaf forests, White-cheeked Hill-Partridge Arborophila atrogularis is seen, along with other forest birds. Deepor Beel harbours many species of migratory birds in winter as well as resident birds. But birds get disturbed from the end of December caused by heavy fishing for feasts of New Year and Assamese Magh Bihu in mid-January. Though Deepor beel is leased out every year and fishing is a regular activity (year-round), disturbance touches peak by the end of December as locals also start ‘community fishing’ during that period for feasts after harvests. Charaching of waterfowls occurs but it is not a major threat (K. Lahkar pers. comm. 2003). Oriental White-backed Gyps bengalensis and Long-billed G. indicus vultures are still seen, mainly in winter, near Deepor Beel. Other vultures found in the region, Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus and Himalayan Griffon G. himalayansis are also seen in nearby areas (K. Lahkar pers. comm. 2003) The Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius, regularly seen in Guwahati city garbage dumps and near slaughter houses, is occasionally seen in Deepor Beel. However, its cousin, the Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus, listed as Vulnerable (BirdLife International 2001) is much more common. Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca is also commonly seen in winter. A total number of 688 birds were counted on January 4th 1991 under the Asian Waterfowl Census (Choudhury 2000).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Despite Deepor Beel’s proximity to the sprawling Guwahati city and nearby settlements, the Asian Elephant Elephas maximus regularly visits the beel. In the nearby Rani RF and other forested areas, mammals such as Hoolock Gibbon Hylobates hoolock, Assamese Macaque Macaca assamensis, Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta, Capped Langur Trachypithecus pileatus, Slow Loris Nycticebus coucang, Leopard Panthera pardus, Jungle Cat Felis chaus, Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis, three species of Civets (Large Indian Viverra zibetha, Small Indian Viverricula indica and Palm Paguma larvata), Mongoose Herpestes sp., Sambar Cervus unicolor, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Chinese Pangolin Manis pentadactyla have been recorded.

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  Critically Endangered 
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius breeding  2004  present  A1  Endangered 
Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis resident  2004  present  A1  Near Threatened 
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 
Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaea winter  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 

IBA Monitoring

2013 high favourable medium
unset
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution industrial & military effluents - type unknown/unrecorded happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Wetlands (inland)   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  Unknown  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Deepor Beel Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 4,000 unknown 0  
Diparbeel Sanctuary 414 is identical to site 414  

Habitats

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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture
fisheries/aquaculture -
Notes: Fishing
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature Conservation
water management -
Notes: Water management

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Anwaruddin Choudhury, Kulojyoti Lahkar and Prasanta Saikia.

References 

Barman, R., P. Saikia, H. J. Singha, B. K. Talukdar and P. C. Bhattacharjee (1995) Study on the population trend of waterbirds at Deepar Beel Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam. Pavo 33 (1&2): 25-40.

BirdLife International (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: The BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Choudhury, A. U. (2000) The Birds of Assam. Gibbon Books and WWFIndia, NE Regional Office, Guwahati.

Saikia, P. and Bhattacharjee, P. C. (1987) A study of the avifauna of Deepor Beel, a potential bird sanctuary of Assam. Gauhati University, Assam. Unpublished report.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Deepor Beel Bird Sanctuary. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/12/2014

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