email a friend
printable version
Location India, Assam
Central coordinates 92o 30.07' East  24o 10.85' North
IBA criteria A1
Area 130,000 ha
Altitude 50 - 600m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description This site covers parts of Cachar and Hailakandi districts in southern Assam, bordering Mizoram and Manipur. The Innerline Reserve Forest (RF) is the largest RF in Assam, with an area of more than 110,000 ha. Katakhal and Barak RFs are contiguous with Innerline. The area is mainly composed of low hills that are the northern promontories of the Lushai or Mizo Hills. Small patches of plain area found between the hills are mostly under human habitation. Dhaleswari, Barak and Sonai are the main rivers. These reserve forests, along with some other adjacent reserve forests, were proposed as Dhaleswari Wildlife Sanctuary in the early 1980s. The area has a rich diversity of mammals and birds (Choudhury 1983). Part of Katakhal RF has been ornithologically surveyed as far back as the 19th century (Inglis 1896-1910). The forests are mainly Tropical Wet Evergreen and Tropical Semievergreen. The two characteristic tree species of the area are Dipterocarpus turbinatus and Palaquium polyanthum. There are vast and continuous stretches of bamboo with cane and reeds. There are some small but excellent patches of tropical rain forest on the plains in the Innerline RF.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: So far, about 250 species have been listed, including many endangered ones (A. U. Choudhury pers. comm. 2003). The Whitewinged Duck Cairina scutulata is still sporadically recorded, but there is no recent report of the Masked Finfoot Heliopais personata. There are specimens of this elusive bird in American Museums, collected from the northern edge of Innerline RF (BirdLife International 2001). The Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis was also recorded from the fringe of Katakhal RF, but there is no recent report. The Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis has perhaps vanished from the area due to encroachment on its grassland habitat for cultivation, while the last confirmed record of the Green Peafowl Pavo muticus in Assam was from Barak RF (Choudhury 2000). The site lies in Biome-9 (Indo-Chinese Tropical Moist Forest). Some of the major species of the biome that are seen here are Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush Garrulax monileger, Blackgorgeted Laughingthrush G. pectoralis, and Rufous-necked Laughingthrush G. ruficollis. During winter, many birds of other biomes such as Biome-7 (Sino- Himalayan Temperate Forest) and Biome-8 (Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest) move in. Notable forest birds are Grey-bellied Tesia T. cyaniventer, Blyth’s Kingfisher Alcedo hercules, Bluethroated Barbet Megalaima asiatica, Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis, Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii, Black-naped Oriole O. tenuirostris, Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae, Black-winged Cuckoo Shrike Coracina melaschistos, Short-billed Minivet Pericrocotus brevirostris, White-throated Bulbul Alophoixus flaveolus, Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus and Grey Peacock Pheasant Polyplectron bicalcaratum.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: This IBA site has the highest primate diversity in Assam with eight species (Choudhury 1989). They are the Slow Loris Nycticebus coucang, Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta, Pig-tailed Macaque M. nemestrina, Stump-tailed Macaque Macaca arctoides, Assamese Macaque M. assamensis, Capped Langur Trachypithecus pileatus, Phayre’s Leaf Monkey T. phayrei and Hoolock Gibbon Hylobates hoolock. Other fauna includes Elephant Elephas maximus, Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus, Malayan Sun Bear Helarctos malayanus, Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard P. pardus, Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Hog Deer Axis porcinus, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Serow Nemorhaedus sumatraensis and Gaur Bos frontalis. The Gangetic dolphin Plantanista gangetica occurs in Barak River and during monsoon in Dhaleswari and Katakhal rivers also. There are historic records of the Sumatran Rhinoceros Dicerorhinus sumatrensis and Wild Water Buffalo Bubalus arnee (= bubalis) (Choudhury 1997, 2001). Among reptiles, there were innumerable past records of the Gharial Gavialis gangeticus.

Turtles recorded include the Keeled Box Turtle Pyxidea mouhotii and Eastern Hill or Asian Brown Tortoise Manouria emys. Both Indian Rock and Reticulated pythons (Python molurus and P. reticulatus) have been recorded here, besides the King Cobra Ophiophagus hannah and other snakes.

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 
Green Peafowl Pavo muticus resident  2004  present  A1  Endangered 
White-winged Duck Asarcornis scutulata resident  2004  present  A1  Endangered 
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis resident  2004  present  A1  Near Threatened 
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Masked Finfoot Heliopais personatus resident  2004  present  A1  Endangered 

IBA Monitoring

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

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Biological resource use gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Inner-Line Forest Sanctuary 10,000 unknown 0  


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

Land use

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

Acknowledgements Key contributor: Anwaruddin Choudhury.


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

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

Champion, H. G. and Seth, S. K. (1968) A revised survey of forest types of India, Govt. of India Press, Delhi. Pp 403.

Choudhury, A. U. (1983) Plea for a new wildlife refuge in eastern India. Tigerpaper 10(4): 12-15. Bangkok.

Choudhury, A. U. (1989) Primates of Assam: their distribution, habitat and status. Ph.D. thesis. Gauhati University, Guwahati.

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

Choudhury, A. U. (1997) The status of the Sumatran rhinoceros in northeastern India. Oryx, 31(2):151-152.

Choudhury, A. U. (2000) Birds of Assam. Gibbon Books & WWF-India NE Region, Guwahati. Pp. 16-17, 34.

Choudhury, A. U. (2001) On the occurrence of the wild water buffalo Bubalus arnee in the Barak Valley districts of Assam. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 98(2): 270-271.

Inglis, C. (1896-1910) List of birds collected during 5 years’ residence in Hylakandy district of Cachar, 8 parts. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. Vols. 10-13.

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Innerline, Katakal and Barak Reserve Forests. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife