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Location India, Gujarat
Central coordinates 72o 0.00' East  22o 19.98' North
IBA criteria A1
Area 259,000 ha
Altitude
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society



Site description The Bhal (literally meaning the forehead) is a flat alluvial plain, made up of a mosaic of croplands, saline wastelands, grasslands, pasture land and marshes (Dharmakumarsinhji 1978). It is bordered on the south by the Kalubar river, extends north to Dholka and Dhandhuka, and northwest to Limbdi. The Bhal region is believed to have emerged from the sea during the late Tertiary and early Quaternary, much later than the rest of Saurashtra which appeared during the Cretaceous period (Dharmakumarsinhji 1978, Raychaudhari et al. 1963). The Bhal region is prone to droughts and floods. Cyclones occasionally strike the coast of Saurashtra. During such times, the Bhal becomes a large swamp. This attracts a very large number of waders and other waterbirds. The Bhal area was an open treeless habitat as recently as 50 years ago (Dharmakumarsinhji 1978, Mungall et al. 1981). Prosopis chilensis was planted in the Bhal area about 60 years ago near Mithapur, to provide fuel wood. It has since spread rampantly and converted much of the grasslands into savanna and thorn-forest habitat (Jhala 1991). Nearly forty species of grasses have been identified from the area. The dominant grass species are Dicanthium annulatum, Sporobolus virginicus, S. coromandelianus and S. maderspatensis. Prosopis chilensis is the dominant species of shrub.

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 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Lesser Florican Sypheotides indicus resident  2004  present  A1  Endangered 
Sarus Crane Antigone antigone resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
White-browed Bushchat Saxicola macrorhynchus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 

Habitats

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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture
rangeland/pastureland -
Notes: Grazing land
urban/industrial/transport -
Notes: Human habitation; Saltpan industries; Traffic / transportation

Acknowledgements Key contributors: I. R. Gadhvi, V. A. Rathod and Y. N. Jhala.

References 

Craighhead J. J. and Craighhead, F. C, Jr. (2001) Life with an Indian Prince. Heritage Publication Series, Vol. 2. Archives of American Falconry, Boise, Idaho, USA.

Dharmakumarsinhji, K. S. (1978) Velavadar National Park, Gujarat, India. Tigerpaper 5 (1): 6-8.

Gadhvi, I. R. and Rathod, V. A. (2003) Status survey of threatened bird species in the Bhal area, Gujarat with special emphasis to Houbara bustard and Stoliczka’s Bushchat. Report submitted to Bombay Natural History Society.

Jhala, Y. V. (1991) Habitat and population dynamics of wolves and blackbuck. Ph. D. Thesis, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, U.S.A.

Mungall, E. C., Patel, B. H., Prasad, N. L. N. S. and Dougherthy, S. E. (1981) Conservation and management of the Indian blackbuck antelope (Antilope cervicapra). Joint U. S. - Indian Blackbuck Project, Final report. Pp. 111.

Raychaudhari, S. P., Agarwal, R. R., Biswas, N. R. D., Gupta, S. P. and Thomas, P. K. (1963) Soils of India. Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi. Pp. 496.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bhal area. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/10/2014

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