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Location India, Delhi,Uttar Pradesh
Central coordinates 77o 18.00' East  28o 33.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4iii
Area 400 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Delhi and the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh harbour a huge wetland refuge for birds. The site is located at the point where the River Yamuna leaves the territory of Delhi and enters the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh. The most prominent feature of the Sanctuary is a large lake created by damming the river, which lies sandwiched between Okhla village towards the west and Gautam Budh Nagar towards the east (Urfi 2003). So rich is this stretch of the river in avian diversity that it could well qualify as a Ramsar wetland of international importance. However, various development activities such as the construction of the NOIDA-Delhi freeway are encroaching on prime habitats of several birds. The Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) side of Okhla has already been declared a bird sanctuary. This Sanctuary comes under the Irrigation Department. The aquatic vegetation of this stretch of River Yamuna has been described by Gopal and Sah (1993). Typha and Phragmites reed beds are abundant, especially during monsoon. Patches of Water Hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes form dense mats. Salvinia is also found. The common tree species are Acacia nilotica, Acacia modesta, Albizzia lebbeck, Dalbergia sissoo, Zizyphus mauritiana, Ficus bengalensis and F. glomerata.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri winter  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
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 
Indian Vulture Gyps indicus non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Sarus Crane Antigone antigone resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarius winter  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis breeding  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Bristled Grassbird Chaetornis striata resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Yellow Weaver Ploceus megarhynchus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Okhla Sanctuary 400 is identical to site 400  


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
Notes: Fisheries
water management -
Notes: Water management

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Nikhil Devasar, Abdul J. Urfi, Bill Harvey and Tarun K. Roy.


Ali, S. and Ripley, S. D. (1987) Compact Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan (Second Edition). Oxford University Press, Delhi.

BirdLife International (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: The BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Ganguli, U. (1975) A guide to the birds of the Delhi area. Indian Council for Agricultural Research, New Delhi.

Gopal, B. and Sah, M. (1993) Conservation and management of rivers in India: case study of the River Yamuna. Environmental Conservation 20: 243-254.

Grewal, B. (1996) Bristled Grassbird Chaetornis striatus at Okhla, Delhi. OBC Bulletin, 24: 43-44.

Grimmett, R., Inskipp C. and Inskipp, T. (1998) Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. A. & C. Black/Christopher Helm London.

Harris, C. (2001) Checklist of the birds of Yamuna river (Okhla to Jaitpur village). Unpublished.

Rai, Y. M. (1979) Finn’s Weaver breeding in Meerut. Newsletter for Birdwatchers 19: 11.

Urfi, A. J. (1993) The Birdlife of Okhla. Sanctuary Asia 13 (5): 50 -53.

Urfi, A. J. (1997) The significance of Delhi Zoo for wild waterbirds, with special reference to the Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala. Forktail 12: 87-97.

Urfi, A. J. (2003) The birds of Okhla Barrage Bird Sanctuary, Delhi, India. Forktail 19: 39-50.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Okhla Bird Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 21/09/2014

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