email a friend
printable version
Location India, Assam
Central coordinates 94o 35.00' East  27o 4.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A4iii
Area 4,000 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description This site includes Pani-Dihing Bird Sanctuary (3,393 ha) and its environs (600 ha), including Phokolai and Dorou beels. Situated 17 km north of Sibsagar town, the district headquarters, this large wetland complex lies on the south bank of River Brahmaputra, near its confluence with the tributary Disang. The terrain is flat, being on the floodplains. During monsoon, most of the area is inundated. The main beels (wetlands) of the area are Phokolai, Dorou (both outside the Sanctuary), Sagunpora, Ghoka, Tokia and Jarjaria. The main channels that feed the area are Dimou, Boloma, Balijan and Singorajan. Pani-Dihing and adjacent areas are known for migratory waterfowl, while there are also important resident species. It used to be a hunters paradise, and people from Sibsagar town used to go for shooting ducks and geese. Now sport hunting has been stopped, but poisoning of waterfowl still goes on. The strip of swampy reed jungle of the northern border comprises chiefly Arundo donax and plants of the genus Alpinia, Vetiveria zizanioides and Saccharum spontaneum are also common, whereas Phragmites karka is becoming rarer, possibly because of collection by the villagers. Thorny vines wind around these tall grasses and during the summer rainfall, it becomes impenetrable with thick clumps of Eichornia crassipes.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: More than 160 species of birds have been recorded in the area so far (Choudhury 1988, 1991, 1993; Barooah 1990, 1994). There are historic records of the Black-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis flavirostris from the area (J. R. Cripps in Hume 1888). Pani-Dihing is now famous for its vast flocks of Bar-headed geese Anser indicus and Greylag geese A. anser, and thousands of other waterfowl. It easily qualifies for A4iii criteria (= 20,000 water birds) in addition to A1 criteria (significant number of threatened species). In the reed thickets on the northern border, 400-500 pairs of Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis, Pond Heron Ardeola grayii, Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus, Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Grey Heron A. cinerea, Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger and Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus breed. Arundo donax and Phragmites karka are mostly preferred for nesting (Barooah 1994).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Since the mid 1990s, Asian Elephants Elephas maximus have started appearing here for a short time during migration. There are recent records of even a One-horned Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis and Tiger Panthera tigris. Common Otters Lutra lutra and Hog deer Axis porcinus are regularly seen. Gangetic dolphin Plantanista gangetica is seen during monsoon in the Sanctuary, and throughout the year at the confluence of the Disang and Brahmaputra rivers. Among reptiles, the Brown Roof Turtle Kachuga smithii, Indian Tent Turtle K. tentoria, and Gangetic Softshell Aspideretes gangeticus have been identified, but there could be many more species.

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 
Black-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis flavirostris resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

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%) very rapid to severe 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
Agriculture and aquaculture marine and freshwater aquaculture - industrial aquaculture happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale 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%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - persecution/control happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Panidihing Sanctuary 3,393 is identical to site 3,393  


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

Land use

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

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Diptimanta Barooah, Anwaruddin Choudhury and Kulojyoti Lahkar.


Barooah, D. (1990) Panihiding Reserve Forest- Status and its Avifauna. Newsletter for Birdwatchers 30 (5-6): 7-8.

Barooah, D. (1994) Birds of Panidihing. Newsletter for Birdwatchers 34(4): 83 - 86.

Choudhury, A. U. (1988) Some rare ornithological records from Sibsagar, Assam. Cheetal 29(2): 3- 9.

Choudhury, A. U. (1991) Bird observations from Sibsagar District, Assam, India. Forktail 6: 35-42.

Choudhury, A. U. (1993) Nesting colonies of Greater Adjutant Storks in Nagaon and Sibsagar districts of Assam. Newsletter for Birdwarchers 33: 47-48.

Hume, A. O. (1888) The birds of Manipur, Assam, Sylhet and Cachar. Stray Feathers 11: 1-353.

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: Pani-Dihing Bird Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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