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Location India, Assam
Central coordinates 92o 34.53' East  26o 55.18' North
IBA criteria A1
Area 22,000 ha
Altitude 100 - 300m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Sonai-Rupai was declared as a Game Reserve in 1934, because of its rich biodiversity that included the Indian One-horned Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis, and reported populations of Wild Buffalo Bubalus arnee (= bubalis). Both these species are, however, locally extinct from this sanctuary. Located about 40 km northwest of Tezpur town, in the district of Sonitpur, in northern Assam, Sonai-Rupai has a number of threatened birds that got little attention earlier. These are the White-winged Duck Cairina scutulata, Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis, Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis and the occasional Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis (Choudhury 2000, 2002). This sanctuary is on the interstate border with Arunachal Pradesh. Sonai-Rupai was earlier part of Charduar Reserve Forest. The rivers Gabharu, Gelgeli, Sonai and Rupai flow through the Sanctuary. An added advantage is the presence of Doimara RF and beyond this the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary across the border in Arunachal Pradesh, covering about 50,000 ha. For many species of fauna, it is one large wilderness area. The terrain in Sonai-Rupai is flat and gently sloping towards the south, typical of bhabar and terai areas. Towards north, promontories of the small hills of Arunachal Himalaya can be seen. Most of Sonai-Rupai is tree forest, but there are large patches of grassland.

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 
White-winged Duck Asarcornis scutulata resident  2004  present  A1  Endangered 
Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis resident  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Sonai-Rupai Sanctuary 22,000 is identical to site 22,000  


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
forestry -
Notes: Forest
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Riverine wetland
rangeland/pastureland -
Notes: Grassland

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Anwaruddin Choudhury, Goutam Narayan and Asad R. Rahmani.


Choudhury, A. U. (2000) The Birds of Assam. Gibbon Books & WWF India NE Region, Guwahati. Pp. 240.

Choudhury, A. U. (2002) Conservation of the White-winged Wood Duck Cairina scutulata in India, pp. 52-64. 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. Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai. Pp. x+228.

Rahmani, A. R., Narayan, G., Rosalind, L. and Sankaran, R. (1990) Status of the Bengal Florican in India. pp. 55-78. In: Status and Ecology of the Lesser and Bengal Floricans, with reports on Jerdon’s Courser and Mountain Quail. Final Report. Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay.

Stattersfield, A. J., Crosby, M. J., Long, A. J. and Wege, D. C. (1998) Endemic Bird Areas of the World: Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation. BirdLife Conservation Series No. 7. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sonai-Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 01/10/2014

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