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Location India, Himachal Pradesh
Central coordinates 77o 13.97' East  30o 58.25' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 10,854 ha
Altitude 701 - 2,408m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Chail Wildlife Sanctuary lies in Solan and Shimla districts. Formerly, it was the private game reserve of the Maharaja of Patiala. Inspite of degradation, it is still one of the best sanctuaries for the Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichii. The Sanctuary has, within its boundaries, Chail town and numerous villages, and is connected by a forest corridor to the Shimla Water Catchment Sanctuary (an IBA) in the north. It comprises part of the catchment area of a tributary of the Giri River. The forest cover of the Sanctuary includes Himalayan Subtropical Pine Forest, Ban Oak Forest and Moru Oak Forest, according to the forest classification by Champion and Seth (1968). The dominant forest tree is Ban Oak Quercus incana, mixed with Chir Pine Pinus roxburghii at lower altitudes. Rhododendron Rhododendron arboreum forms pure stands in places and Cedar Cedrus deodara and Blue Pine Pinus wallichiana have been planted in some areas. There is little mature forest, and much secondary growth due to disturbance (Gaston and Singh 1980). Reference to the habitat map in Garson (1983) shows that the forest is largely confined to the northern half of the sanctuary. Around 418 ha were planted with Pine, Oak, Cedar and Robinia up to 1984 (Singh et al. 1990).

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: At least 139 bird species are reported from the site (Naim Akhtar pers. comm. 2003), including five species of pheasants, i.e. Cheer, Koklass Pucrasia macrolopha, Kaleej Lophura leucomelanos, Peafowl Pavo cristatus and Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus. While Cheer Pheasant occurs only in grassland, Kaleej and Koklass occur in oak forest. This IBA is extremely important for the protection of the globally threatened Cheer Pheasant. In the late 1970s, Gaston and Singh (1980) and Gaston et al. (1981) estimated 40 to 60 pairs, while in March 1983, Garson (1983) estimated a minimum of 32 pairs. Sharma et al. (1990) conducted further surveys in March 1987, and recently Kalsi (1999) surveyed Cheer Pheasant in Himachal Pradesh between March and June, and found many pairs in Chail. Most recent work on this species is by Akhtar and Narang (2002) who found “high abundance of Cheer pheasant” in Chail. It is widely distributed in places called Blossom and Khari-un. They also found one more grassland site near Bhagairh village. This IBA lies in the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (EBA) (Stattersfield et al. 1998) and Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest (Biome-7) and Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest (Biome-8) (BirdLife International, undated). Eleven species are considered restricted range in this EBA and in Chail WLS, only one species (Cheer Pheasant) has been identified till now in this category. Perhaps, more detailed studies are required here to find out whether other restricted range species occur here or not, although habitat and altitude look suitable for some of them.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Leopard Panthera pardus is the main predator, and has for its prey ungulates such as Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Sambar Cervus unicolor and Goral Nemorhaedus goral. Goral occurs in very good numbers in Chail as evident by the encounter rate of 7 animals/km walk (S. Sathyakumar pers. comm. 2002). The European Red Deer Cervus elaphus was introduced more than half a century ago by the former Maharaja of Patiala (Singh et al. 1990), but none were sighted during a census in 1988 (S. Pandey pers. comm.). Other species include Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus, Wild Boar Sus scrofa, Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus and Black-naped Hare Lepus nigricollis.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichii resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 

IBA Monitoring

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

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Energy production and mining mining and quarrying happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Chail Sanctuary 10,854 is identical to site 10,854  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   -
Grassland   -

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: Urban transport

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Sanjeeva Pandey, S. Sathyakumar and Naim Akhtar.


Akhtar, N. and Narang, M. L. (2002) Status, Distribution and Conservation of Galliformes in Chail Wildlife Sanctuary, Himachal Pradesh. Proceedings of National Seminar on Galliformes. AVC College, Mayiladuturai.

Ali, S. and Ripley, S. D. (1987) Compact Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan (Second Edition). Oxford University Press, Delhi.

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

Champion, H. G. and Seth, S. K. (1968) A revised survey of forest types of India, Govt. of India Press, Delhi. Pp. 403.

Garson, P. J. (1983) The cheer pheasant Catreus wallichii in Himachal Pradesh, Western Himalayas: an update. WPA Journal 8: 29-39.

Gaston, A. J. and Singh, J. (1980) The status of the cheer pheasant Catreus wallichii, in the Chail Wildlife Sanctuary Himachal Pradesh. WPA Journal 5: 68-73.

Gaston, A. J., Hunter, M. L. Jr, and Garson, P. J. (1981) The wildlife of Himachal Pradesh, Western Himalayas. University of Maine School of Forest Resources Technical Notes No. 82. Pp 159.

Kalsi, R. S. (1999) Status and habitat of Cheer Pheasant in Himachal Pradesh. WPA-SARO News 1(1): 2-4.

Sharma, V., Garson, P. J. and Khera, S. (1990) Status surveys of Cheer and Western Tragopan in Simla Hills of Himachal Pradesh. Pp 139-141. In: Pheasants in Asia 1989 (eds. Hill, D. A., Garson, P. J. and Jenkins, D.). World Pheasant Association, Reading, U.K.

Singh, S., Kothari, A. and Pande, P. (Eds) (1990) Directory of national parks and sanctuaries in Himachal Pradesh: management status and profiles. Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi. Pp 164.

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

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Chail Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

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