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Location India, Gujarat
Central coordinates 72o 2.00' East  22o 47.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4iii, A4iv
Area 12,082 ha
Altitude 10 - 15m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary is spread over an area of 12,082 ha and is one of the largest shallow freshwater lakes in India. It has been proposed as a Ramsar Site. The Sanctuary lies in the semiarid districts of Ahmedabad and Surendranagar in north Gujarat. The Lake has an elliptical basin with a gentle slope. It is very shallow, with a maximum depth of 3 m and has about 360 islands scattered in it. The shoreline of the lake is barren and is surrounded by dry land and some crop fields (Singh 2001). Nalsarovar is also a very popular site for tourists and birdwatchers. Nalsarovar is a typical temporary shallow wetland, generally seen in dry areas. About 50 species of algae and over 72 species of aquatic plants including Vallisneria, Ceratophyllum and Chara have been recorded from the area (Singh 1998). This vast shallow wetland does not have much emergent vegetation. In drought years, it remains dry for most part of the year.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: About 250 species of birds have been recorded of which 158 species are waterbirds. Over 2,24,000 birds were recorded in 1992 and over 1,41,000 birds in 1996 in censuses conducted by the Forest Department (Singh 2001). Threatened bird species include the Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus, Pallas’s Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus, Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis and others. Some common species of birds are the Coot Fulica atra, Northern Shoveller Anas clypeata, Northern Pintail Anas acuta, Wigeon Anas penelope, Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber and Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala. This site has been selected mainly on the basis of congregatory criteria (A4) as more than 20,000 waterfowl are found when rainfall is normal. As the area is vast, so species-wise population estimates are not easy. Nevertheless, many ducks and waders are found in much larger numbers than their 1% biogeographic population threshold estimated by Wetlands International (2002). As Nalsarovar falls in the migratory route, hundreds of thousands of birds stop over before spreading out in the rest of Gujarat (and other parts of India). Therefore, we have included it under A4iv criteria also, i.e. the site is known or thought to exceed thresholds set for migratory species at bottleneck sites.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The Sanctuary also supports a herd of Wild Ass Equus onager during summer. Wolf Canis lupus, Hyena Hyaena hyaena, Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Indian Fox Vulpes bengalensis and Jungle Cat Felis chaus are also recorded in the area. About 20 species of fish have been recorded from the area (Singh 2001).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni passage  2004  present  A1  Least Concern 
Pallas's Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Sarus Crane Antigone antigone resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   
A4iv Species group - soaring birds/cranes passage  2004  min 20,000 individuals  A4iv   

IBA Monitoring

2013 high favourable medium
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
Biological resource use gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - unintentional effects (species is not the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Wetlands (inland)   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  Very little or no conservation action taking place  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Nal Sarovar Sanctuary 12,082 is identical to site 12,082  

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

Name Year formed
Nalsarovar SSG (Recreation Youth Club) 0


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
Notes: Fishing
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature conservation and research
tourism/recreation -
Notes: Tourism and recreation
water management -
Notes: Irrigation; Waterways

Acknowledgements Key contributors: H. S. Singh and the IBA team.


Singh, H. S. (1998) Wildlife of Gujarat. Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation. Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India. Pp. 65 - 66.

Singh, H. S. (2001) Natural Heritage of Gujarat. Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India.

Wetlands International (2002) Waterbird Population Estimates - Third Edition. Wetlands International Global Series No. 12. Wageningen, the Netherlands.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Nalsarovar Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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