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Location India, Assam
Central coordinates 92o 46.27' East  26o 32.90' North
IBA criteria A1, A2
Area 11,417 ha
Altitude 60 - 70m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary (7,011 ha) is located in Nagaon district in central Assam. It was declared as a game reserve way back in 1907 because of its population of Indian One-horned Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis. Burhachapori Wildlife Sanctuary (4,406 ha) is contiguous with Laokhowa, and is located on the south bank of the Brahmaputra west of the Kolia Bhomara Bridge near Tezpur. This Sanctuary, however, is in Sonitpur district. During summer, Burhachapori virtually becomes an island. Both Laokhowa and Burhachapori are on the floodplains of the Brahmaputra river. In Burhachapori, about 20% is forest, 65% grasslands and the rest waterbodies and scrub forest. Laokhowa is similar to Kaziranga in terrain and situated further downstream on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra. Roughly 35% of Laokhowa is grassland, 30% waterbodies and the remaining area under natural forest or plantations of Bombax ceiba, Dalbergia sissoo and Albizzia procera. Marasuti, a tributary of the Brahmaputra flows along the northwestern part of the Sanctuary (Bhagabati and Lahkar 1998, Choudhury 1998). The natural vegetation is mainly forest interspersed with tall trees, grasslands and wetland vegetation. The forests are primarily of Tropical Moist Deciduous, with patches of Semi-evergreen types. The understorey is found to vary from one forest patch to another, depending upon the character of the dominant trees. In some patches, it is dominated by Pteridophytes, and in others by species of Eupatorium, Mikania and Ageratum. Climbers and herbs like Hydrocotyle and Colocasia are present. Some epiphytic ferns, namely Asplenium and Pyrrosia can be seen. The dominant trees include Albizzia procera, Acacia catechu, Barringtonia acutangula, Dalbergia sisoo and Bombax ceiba. Grasses grow in the relatively dry areas (Bhagabati and Lahkar 1998).

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: About 200 bird species have been recorded in the site (Lahkar 2003). Rahmani et al. (1990) during their surveys in late 1980s did not find any Bengal Florican in Laokhowa and Burhachapori areas due to disturbance at that time. However, subsequently, Talukdar (1995), Goswami et al. (1999) and Choudhury (2002) found that florican sighting has become frequent, due to improvement of the habitat. In 1998, an injured male florican was rescued by the Forest Department. If the grasslands are properly protected, this IBA could become a major habitat for this highly endangered species. This IBA site is also important for about 16 threatened and Near Threatened species.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The Laokhowa-Burhachapori IBA continues to be one of the important habitats of Indian One-horned Rhinoceros, a globally endangered animal. Laokhowa had about 60 rhinos before they were killed in the 1970s and finally exterminated during political upheaval in the 1980s. Even now, rhinos appear occasionally after the rains, but they become victims of poachers. Nevertheless, the situation can be improved with strict management, and rhinos can be reintroduced as the habitat is still suitable. Elephants Elephas maximus are still found, resulting in human-animal conflict, as a very large number of villages surround the forests and grasslands.

Wild Water Buffalo Bubalus arnee (= bubalis) is also seen, but they suffer from interbreeding with domestic buffalo. Tiger Panthera tigris, Hog Deer Axis porcinus, Wild Boar Sus scrofa, Porcupine Hystrix brachyura, Large Indian Civet Viverra zibetha, Indian Grey Mongoose Herpestes edwardsii, Jungle Cat Felis chaus, Common Otter Lutra lutra, Clawless Otter Amblonyx cinereus and Golden Jackal Canis aureus are some other mammals of this IBA (Bhagabati and Lahkar 1998, Choudhury 1998).

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 
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 
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 
Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis resident  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Spotted Greenshank Tringa guttifer winter  2004  present  A1  Endangered 
Marsh Babbler Pellorneum palustre resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 

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 small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant 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%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - soil erosion, sedimentation happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Burachapori Sanctuary 4,406 protected area contained by site 4,406  
Laokhowa Sanctuary 7,011 protected area contained by site 7,011  


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture (in forest villages)
fisheries/aquaculture -
Notes: Fishing
forestry -
Notes: Forestry
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature Conservation

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Kulojyoti Lahkar, Anwaruddin Choudhury, Asad R. Rahmani, Goutam Narayan, Abani Kr. Bhagavati and Shimanta Kumar Goswami.


Bhagabati, A. K. and Lahkar, K. (1998) Report: Some aspects of biodiversity and its conservation in the river islands of Brahmaputra, Assam. WWF-India NE Region, Guwahati and Assam Science Society, Guwahati.

Choudhury, A. U. (1998) Survey of grasslands in some parts of Central & Southern Assam: to assess their biodiversity and socio-economic problems. Report to the WWF-India NE Regional office, Guwahati. 99 pp + maps.

Choudhury, A. (2002) Current status and conservation of the Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis in northeast India. In: Birds of Wetlands and Grasslands: Proceedings of the Salim Ali Centenary Seminar on Conservation of Avifauna of Wetlands and Grasslands. Pp. 90-94. Eds. Rahmani, A. R. and G. Ugra. Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai.

Goswami, S. K., Medhi, C. and Goswami, B. B. (1999) Rediscovery of Bengal Florican (Eupodotis bengalensis) in Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary. Newsletter for Birdwatchers. 39 (4): 64-65 Lahkar, K. (2003) Birds of Laokhowa and Burhachapori wildlife sanctuaries. Report to be submitted to the Oriental Bird Club, UK.

Rahmani, A. R, Narayan, G., Rosalind, L. and Sankaran, R. (1990) Status of the Bengal Florican in India. In: Status and Ecology of the Lesser and Bengal floricans. Final Report. Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay. Pp. 155.

Talukdar, B. K. (1995) New record of Bengal Florican in Burhachapori reserved forest, Assam. Newsletter for Birdwatchers 35(3): 53

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Laokhowa and Burhachapori Sanctuaries. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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