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Location India, Gujarat
Central coordinates 72o 0.00' East  21o 53.48' North
IBA criteria A1, A4ii
Area 3,408 ha
Altitude 1 - 6m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society



Site description A tropical grassland, internationally known for the largest concentration of Blackbuck Antilope cervicapra, is now famous for the largest population of harriers Circus spp. in the world during winter, and also for one of the largest breeding populations of the Lesser Florican Sypheotides indica in monsoon. The existence of a large, regular winter roost of harriers Circus spp. has been known since the mid-1980s, and assessments of the number of birds present at the peak period have ranged up to 2,000 (Clarke 1993). Velavadar National Park is just above sea level, located 18 km from the Gulf of Cambay and 35 km north of the city of Bhavnagar. Velavadar is at a lower elevation than its surroundings and therefore remains submerged for a longer duration when cyclones strike the coast (Dharmakumarsinhji 1978). The present area of the Park was a private vidi (grassland) of the erstwhile princely State of Bhavnagar (Jhala 1991). This IBA falls under Semi-arid Gujarat-Rajwada Biotic Province of the Semi- Arid Biogeographical Zone as per the classification of Rodgers et al. (2000). The high tidal zone of the Gulf of Khambat constitutes the boundary to the south of the Park, while wastelands and agricultural fields surround the other sides. Thirty-nine species of grasses and 46 species of sedges, shrubs and trees represent the diversity of flora. Sporobolus virginicus, S. coromandelianus, S. maderaspatenus, and Dicanthium annulatum are the dominant grasses. Prosopis chilensis shrubs cover large areas of the Park. Among the medium sized trees and shrubs, Salvadora, Acacia nilotica, Zizyphus, Capparis and Suaeda are common.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Over 185 species of birds have been recorded from this area (Akhtar 1998). The area has been reported as the largest roosting ground in the world for four species of harriers, which migrate to the Park: Western Marsh Circus aeruginosus. Montagu’s C. pygargus, Hen C. cyaneus, and Pallid C. macrourus harriers. It also has the largest concentration of Lesser Florican during the monsoon. Up to 40 territorial male floricans have been found in and around Velavadar (Anon. undated). Another threatened bird is White-browed Bushchat or Stoliczka’s Bushchat Saxicola macrorhyncha which has been recently confirmed from this site. During winter, Macqueen’s Bustard Chlamydotis macqueeni (Near Threatened) is also found in this area in small numbers. Velavadar has been selected on the basis of A1 criteria (presence of significant numbers of the highly endangered Lesser Florican) and A4ii criteria (very high concentration of harriers).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Over 15 species (excluding rodents and bats) of mammals, 9 species of reptiles and several species of insects have been recorded in the Park (Dharmakumarsinhji 1978, Natarajan and Rahmani 1997, Singh 2001), which has one of the largest populations of Blackbuck in India. More than 1,300 were counted in 1988-89 (Jhala 1991).

Wolf Canis lupus is the top carnivore in the area. Other animals include Bluebul Boselaphus tragocamelus, Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Hyena Hyaena hyaena, Jungle Cat Felis chaus and Indian Fox Vulpes bengalensis.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
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 

IBA Monitoring

2013 high favourable medium
unset
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Grassland   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
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)  
Velavadar National Park 3,408 is identical to site 3,408  

Habitats

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

Land use

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

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Y. V. Jhala, H. S. Singh and I. R. Gadhvi.

References 

Akhtar, S. A. (1998) Wintering ecology of the Harriers of Velavadar National Park, Bhavnagar district, Gujarat. Pp. 174. Bombay Natural History Society.

Anonymous (undated) Environmental Impact Assessment of Sardar Sarovar Project on Velavador National Park. Gujarat Ecological and Research Foundation, Gandhinagar. Pp. 120.

Clarke, R. (1993) Velavador: Largest Harrier roost in the world? Sanctuary Asia 13(5): 32-35.

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

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

Natarajan, V. and Rahmani, A. R. (1997) Velavador National Park. Pp. 437-463. In: Rahmani, A. R. (ed.) 1997. A study on the ecology of grasslands of the Indian plains with particular reference to their endangered fauna: Final Report. Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai. Pp. 549.

Rodgers, W. A., Panwar, H. S. and Mathur, V. B. (2000) Wildlife Protected Area Network in India: A Review (Executive Summary). Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun.

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 (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Velavadar National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/12/2014

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