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Location India, Himachal Pradesh
Central coordinates 76o 19.00' East  32o 15.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2
Area 94,398 ha
Altitude 1,600 - 4,400m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description The Dhauladhar Wildlife Sanctuary is an area of high altitude forests, not yet exactly defined, but to be demarcated between Nurpur and Jogindernagar, in Himachal Pradesh. The Sanctuary and the surrounding Reserved Forests have been identified as an IBA. The forested region at the foot of the Dhauladhar between 700 and 1,400 m, around Sarah below Dharamshala should also be included in this IBA as many species from the higher zones winter in these forests. Thus a contiguous area from the base to the higher altitudes in Dhauladhar Range could be considered as an IBA. Oak and Rhododendron forests are interspersed with grassy slopes and meadows in this IBA. Above the tree line alpine meadows and rocky mountains dominate, covered in snow for much of the year. In the reserved forests on the lower reaches of Dhauladhar, Deodar Cedrus deodara is dominant, while below 1,600 m large areas have been planted with Pine trees. Other parts of this zone have good examples of Oak forest.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: The Dhauladhar range, at elevation between 1,600 and 4,400 m, is rich in mountain birds of Biome-5, Biome-7 and Biome-8. The Himalayan or Impeyan Monal Lophophorus impejanus, Koklass Pheasant Pucrasia macrolopha, Kaleej Pheasant Lophura leucomelana and Hill Partridge Arborophila torqueola are common breeders in considerable parts of the area, while Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichii, Chukar Partridge Alectoris chukar, Snow Partridge Lerwa lerwa and Himalayan Snowcock Tetraogallus himalayensis occur in smaller numbers in more restricted habitats. (J. W. den Besten pers. comm. 2003). Hunters in the area claim that the Western Tragopan Tragopan melanocephalus still occurs, on undisturbed slopes further from McLeod Gunj (pers. comm. to J. W. den Besten by Prem Sagar and Arvind Dharma 2003). Raptors are remarkably common in the area, with 36 species recorded. Among the breeding species are the Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus, Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus, Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela, Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, Whiteeyed Buzzard Butatur teesa, and Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo. Possible breeders include the Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, Mountain Hawk-eagle Spizaetus nipalensis and Eurasian Sparrow-hawk Accipiter nisus. Globally threatened (BirdLife International 2001) species such as Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, Greater Spotted Eagle A. clanga and Lesser (Indian) Spotted Eagle A. pomarina have been observed in the area, while Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis is still fairly common in the lower areas and with small numbers of Red-headed Vultures or King Vulture Sarcogyps calvus and wintering Cinereous Vultures Aegypius monachus. The Restricted Range species include Tytler’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus tytleri, Solitary Snipe Gallinago solitaria and Spectacled Finch Callacanthis burtoni (J. W. den Besten per. comm. 2003). This is one of the very few sites where the globally threatened Wood Snipe Gallinago nemoricola has been reported. There is a specimen in the British Museum (Natural History) of this bird collected in October 1869 (BirdLife International 2001). The Wood Snipe had always been an uncommon bird. Now, it has a small declining population, as a result of habitat loss and hunting. IBA sites such as Dhauladhar can play an important role in the conservation of this species. This large IBA lies in the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (EBA), (Stattersfield et al. 1998) and has four out of 11 Restricted Range species. BirdLife International (undated) has classified biomes based on forest types and bird assemblages (A3 criteria). This site lies in Biome-7 (Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest). 112 birds are listed in this biome, whose distributions are largely or wholly confined to this biome. With its extensive and largely intact forest cover, Dhauladhar WLS and reserve forests is perhaps one of the best examples of Biome-7. Based on extensive survey, J. W. den Besten (pers. comm. 2003) has listed 51 species of Biome-7 from this site. He found 15 out of 48 species of Biome-5 (Eurasian High Montane-Alpine and Tibetan), mainly in winter when the birds came down. As Biome-7 and Biome-8 (Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest) intergrade and many species show altitudinal movement, 10 species of Biome-8 are also found in this site.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The following mammals have recently been reported in and around the Wildlife Sanctuary: Leopard Panthera pardus, Goral Nemorhaedus goral, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Toddy Cat Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, Himalayan Yellow-throated Marten Martes flavigula, Himalayan Weasel Mustela sibirica, Himalayan Mouse-Hare Ochotona roylei, Black-naped Hare Lepus nigricollis, Indian Porcupine Hystrix indica, Red Flying squirrel Petaurista petaurista, Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus, Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, Jackal Canis aureus, Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus (J. W. den Besten per. comm. 2003). Also reported in Forest Department circulars are the Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis, Jungle Cat Felis chaus, Brown Bear Ursus arctos, Himalayan Tahr Hemitragus jemlahicus, Ibex Capra sibirica, Serow Nemorhaedus sumatraensis, Blue Sheep Pseudois nayaur and Snow Leopard Uncia uncia.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Western Tragopan Tragopan melanocephalus resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichii resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Wood Snipe Gallinago nemoricola winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Tytler's Leaf-warbler Phylloscopus tytleri breeding  2004  present  A2  Near Threatened 
Spectacled Finch Callacanthis burtoni resident  2004  present  A2  Least Concern 

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 some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational 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
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - sewage happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Pollution garbage & solid waste happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Dhauladhar Sanctuary 94,398 is identical to site 94,398  


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
tourism/recreation -
Notes: Tourism and recreation

Acknowledgements Key contributor: Jan Willem den Besten.


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

BirdLife International (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: The BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

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: Dhauludhar Wildlife Sanctuary and McLeod Gunj. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife