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Location India, Assam
Central coordinates 94o 0.85' East  26o 53.65' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A4iii
Area 88,000 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society



Site description Majuli Island in the Brahmaputra River is located about 15 km from the district headquarters at Jorhat in eastern Assam. It is perhaps the second largest river island in the world, and comprises a large riverine island with innumerable small islets, locally called chapories. Originally, the island was a part of the Jorhat plain, south of the Brahmaputra River but southward diversion of the main channel of the river (c. 300 years ago) has resulted in the formation of this island. The northern channel is now known as the Kherkatia and Luitsutis. The topography of the area is flat floodplain with lakes (beels) and marshes on the one hand and anthropogenic structures such as embankments and roads on the other. Tuni river flows through the middle of the site for some distance. The main island is surrounded by more than twenty chapories (sandbars) (Bhagabati and Lahkar 1998). Majuli, with its fertile floodplains and highly productive wetlands, forms ideal habitats for a variety of birds. It not only supports diverse resident birds, but also attracts a large number of migratory birds, including some uncommon species. The influence of Vaishnavite culture on the island, which restricts killing animals for meat has resulted in great tolerance for wildlife and respect for environment, not seen in other parts of the Brahmaputra Valley. Majuli continues to be a good example of the symbiotic relation between nature and culture, which traditionally provides a congenial environment for the protection of all life forms (Bhagabati and Lahkar 1998). High rainfall, high moisture content in the soil and flat plains favour the growth of evergreen and deciduous trees, grasses, a wide variety of marsh vegetation, bamboos and canes (Bhagabati and Lahkar 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 
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 
Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis resident  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Marsh Babbler Pellorneum palustre resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Jerdon's Babbler Chrysomma altirostre resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Black-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis flavirostris resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Habitats

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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature Conservation

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Kulojyoti Lahkar, Abani Kumar Bhagabati, Anwaruddin Choudhury and Tilak Ch. Sarmah.

References 

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 and Assam Science Society, Guwahati.

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

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. Pp. 155. Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay.

Stevens, H. (1914-15) Birds of upper Assam. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 23: 234-268, 547-570, 721-736.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Majuli. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/10/2014

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