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Location India, Bihar
Central coordinates 86o 55.80' East  25o 17.38' North
IBA criteria A1
Area 5,000 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description A 60 km stretch of the River Ganga extending from Sultanganj, eastward to Kahalgaon has been notified as the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary. During monsoon, the river inundates a vast floodplain and the river course also changes a bit. There are many small sandbars inhabited by birds. They serve as breeding grounds for many birds, especially the section from Sultamour to Bhagalpur, a 36 km stretch, which seems to be a paradise for birds and other aquatic animals.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: This site has been selected as an IBA due to the presence of hundreds of Indian Skimmers Rynchops albicollis. Globally threatened species such as the Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius and Lesser Adjutant L. javanicus are also present. Other storks present are the Black Ciconia nigra, Black-necked Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus, White-necked Ciconia episcopus, and the Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans. The Sanctuary is rich in waders. Common Crane Grus grus, Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia and various ducks are also seen here.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The River Ganga is the lifeline of north India and the Gangetic Dolphin Platanista gangetica epitomizes its life and the wealth of biodiversity in India. This is the only Dolphin Sanctuary to be declared in India. Listed by IUCN as Endangered, included in Appendix-II of CITES, and placed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the dolphin enjoys a high level of protection, nationally and internationally. Yet its numbers continue to decline due to continuing developmental pressures on its habitat.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni passage  2004  present  A1  Least Concern 
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 
Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis breeding  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 

IBA Monitoring

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

Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of surface water (unknown use) likely in long term (beyond 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - herbicides and pesticides happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - sewage happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Transportation and service corridors shipping lanes 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)  
Vikramshila Sanctuary 0 is identical to site 5,000  

Local conservation groups The local conservation group below is working to support conservation at this IBA.

Name Year formed
Mandar Nature Club (Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary) 0


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
Notes: Fishing
urban/industrial/transport -
Notes: Transport
water management -
Notes: Irrigation

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Sandeep Behera, Arvind Mishra and R. K. Sinha.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 28/11/2015

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