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Location India, Goa
Central coordinates 74o 12.37' East  15o 37.57' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 158,000 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description This IBA site was named after the river Mhadei (Mandovi) which is considered as the lifeline of Goa. The entire site occupies 43% of the geographical area of Goa State. Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary with an area of 20,800 ha is the part of Mhadei river basin. It is considered ecologically rich and pristine. The Mhadei is an interstate river, with its catchment area spread over Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The IBA is within the Western Ghats. The forest types range from Moist Deciduous, Semi-evergreen and Secondary Scrub. An annual rainfall of 3,000 mm spread roughly over five months, and high relative humidity between 70% to 80%, make ideal conditions for plant growth and diversity. Thus, thick forests, humid climate and moist soil have contributed to the species richness in this region. This IBA site is of great cultural significance as most of the sacred groves of Goa are located in this region. The sacred grove Nirankarachi is dominated by a unique plant species Myristica malabarica, which is endangered and endemic to the site.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: The Mhadei Valley has a large number of endemic and biome restricted species. More than 150 species of birds are known to occur in the site. This site is an important part of the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area and, of the 16 endemic bird species of this EBA (Stattersfield et al. 1998), seven have been recorded from Mhadei Valley. The Ruby-throated Yellow Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus gularis, a subspecies of the Black-headed Yellow Bulbul is restricted to the Western Ghats complex and its geographical range starts from Goa southwards, i.e. from the forests of Mhadei. This bird has the distinction of being the State Bird of Goa. BirdLife International (undated) has listed 15 species in Biome-10, of which 12 are reported from Mahadei.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The conditions of this site are especially suited for reptilian fauna. More than 45 species of snakes are known to occur in the region. Of the 14 Pit Vipers found in India, 8 are reported to occur in this region including the Green Pit Viper Trimeresurus gramineus, and Humpnosed Pit Viper Hypnale hypnale. Apart from snakes, the thick forests of Mhadei provide ideal habitat for agamids, skinks and geckos.

The highly endemic Wroughton’s Freetailed Bat Otomops wroughtoni is found in one of the Barapeda caves near Talewadi of Khanapur on the Goa-Karnataka border. Krishnapur caves are one of the three habitats worldwide of another rare bat Taphozous theobaldi. Another species of bat, Megaderma spasma, that inhabits the Talewadi caves, is localized in the Indian subcontinent (Bates and Harrison 1997).

There are confirmed reports of the presence and movement of tigers (Panthera tigris) in the area, which is contiguous to Mollem, Dandeli, Mhadei and Netravati wildlife sanctuaries.

Similarly among invertebrates, endemism is high, and hundreds of species are found. Butterflies range from the Malabar Tree Nymph Idea malabarica, and Southern Birdwing Troides minos, India’s largest butterfly, to the Grass Jewel Zizeeria trochilus, India’s smallest. The Atlas Moth Altacus atlas, is also recorded here.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Nilgiri Woodpigeon Columba elphinstonii resident  2004  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
Malabar Parakeet Psittacula columboides resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Malabar Grey Hornbill Ocyceros griseus resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Grey-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus priocephalus resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Near Threatened 
Rufous Babbler Turdoides subrufa resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
White-bellied Blue-flycatcher Cyornis pallipes resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Crimson-backed Sunbird Nectarinia minima resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

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

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - shifting agriculture happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - agro-industry plantations happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Energy production and mining mining and quarrying happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - large dams likely in long term (beyond 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Madei Sanctuary 20,848 protected area contained by site 20,848  


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

Land use

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

Acknowledgements Key contributor: Harvey D’Souza.


Bates, J. J. and Harrison, D. L. (1997) Bats of the Indian Subcontinent, Harrison Zoological Museum, England. Pp. 258.

BirdLife International (undated) Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Asia: Project briefing book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K., unpublished.

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 International Series No. 7. BirdLife International, U.K.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary and area. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

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