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Location India, Gujarat
Central coordinates 72o 37.50' East  23o 22.50' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 700 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Thol is an irrigation tank with water storage capacity of about 84 million cubic metres. It was constructed in 1912 during the Gaekwad regime to supply irrigation water to villagers, thus they have the traditional right to use water. Thol is predominantly an open sheet of shallow water of about 1,450 ha command area, surrounded by cropland. The catchment area is nearly 15,500 ha (Pandit 2001). In 1988, this wetland was declared as Thol Bird Sanctuary. Kadi, the taluka headquarters of the district, is just 22 km away from the Sanctuary, 25 km northwest of Ahmedabad. The final settlement of the Sanctuary is still pending. At present, it is under two departments - Forest and Irrigation, which creates problems in management. Thol is an important inland wetland in North Gujarat, and provides excellent habitat to the waterfowl during post-monsoon to winter season. More than 20,000 waterfowl can be seen at the site in winter. The vast open sheet of shallow water and the surrounding crop fields, where the birds are mostly left unmolested, have created a very conducive habitat for birds. There are emergent and floating aquatic plants, mainly in the vicinity of the wetland. Acacia nilotica, A. leucoploea, Zizyphus sp, Azadirachta indica, Ficus sp., Salvadora sp, Prosopis chilensis, Capparis sp. are the important tree species in and around the pond. Some peripheral area has been afforested during recent years (Singh 1998, 2001).

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Over 150 species of birds are reported from the Sanctuary, of which around 90 species are waterbirds. The site is important for prebreeding congregation and nesting of Sarus Crane Grus antigone. Gopi Sunder et al. (2000) have seen 35 cranes in May 1998. Thol also supports one of the biggest congregations of Ruff Philomachus pugnax. Sometimes 5-6 thousand Flamingos congregate in the Thol lake. Thakker (1983) found 70-80 nests of flamingo, presumably Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber, although he does not mention the species. It is also not proved whether the flamingo bred there or just made the nests and abandoned them, as they do in many other wetlands. Thol is a very important wintering area for waterfowl. For example, approximately 62,000 birds were estimated in December 2000 (Singh 2001).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: In the fields surrounding the Sanctuary, Bluebull Boselaphus tragocamelus, Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena, Wolf Canis lupus, Golden Jackal Canis aureus and Blackbuck Antilope cervicapra are found. In some parts of Mehsana district, Blackbuck has become a major menace to crops but as the people are generally vegetarian, they do not molest these animals. Nilgai is also common and spreading.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus winter  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 
Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 

IBA Monitoring

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

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Energy production and mining oil and gas drilling happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of surface water (agricultural use) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - herbicides and pesticides happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Pollution industrial & military effluents - oil spills happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Thol Lake Sanctuary 699 is identical to site 699  

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

Name Year formed
The Thol Lake SSG 0


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - aquatic   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature conservation and research
tourism/recreation -
Notes: Tourism and recreation
urban/industrial/transport -
Notes: Industrial
water management -
Notes: Irrigation

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


Gopi Sunder, K. S., Kaur, J. and Choudhury, B. C. (2000) Distribution, demography and conservation of the Indian Sarus Crane (Grus antigone antigone) in India. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 97 (3): 319-339.

Pandit, S. J. (2001) Management Plan for Thol Bird Sanctuary (2001- 2006). Gujarat Forest Department, Gandhinagar. Pp. 11.

Thakker, P. S. (1983) Flamingos breeding in Thol Lake Sanctuary near Ahmedabad. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 79: 668.

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

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

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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