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Location India, Himachal Pradesh
Central coordinates 76o 0.20' East  32o 51.38' North
IBA criteria A1, A2
Area 10,885 ha
Altitude 1,800 - 3,919m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description This high altitude Sanctuary lies in the Chamba district in northwestern Himachal Pradesh. Its northern boundary adjoins the Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir. The Siul nullah flows along the western boundary of the Sanctuary and the nearest largest town is Bhandal. This is the only Sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh where Hangul or Kashmir Stag Cervus elaphus hanglu, a very rare species, was reported, but there have been no recent records. Based on the classification by Champion and Seth (1968), three main forest types have been identified by Singh et al. (1990). These are Alpine Pastures above 3,000 m, Western Mixed Coniferous Forest and Moist Deodar Forest. The Forest Department has planted Deodar Cedrus deodara, Pine Pinus wallichiana and other species for commercial purposes. They have even also introduced Poplar Populus sp.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Singh et al. (1990) provide a preliminary list of 100 bird species from the Sanctuary, which includes four species of pheasants, including the two globally threatened species (Western Tragopan Tragopan melanocephalus and Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichii) and two comparatively common ones (Himalayan or Impeyan Monal Lophophorus impejanus and Koklass Pucrasia macrolopha). Gamgul Siahbehi WLS lies in an area, which is classified as the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (EBA) by Stattersfield et al. (1998). In this EBA, 11 restricted range species have been listed but as we do not have good information on the bird life, it is not known how many birds are found in this IBA. Only two restricted range species could be identified, i.e. Western Tragopan and Cheer Pheasant. According to BirdLife International (undated) classification of biome, this site should come under Biome-7 (Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest). This biome occurs from 1,800 to 3,600 m, which is also the altitudinal range of this IBA. The BirdLife International (undated) has listed 112 bird species that represent biome assemblages of this area. Based on the information by S. Pandey (pers. comm. 2002) and Sondhi and Sondhi (1998), only 13 species of this biome are found in this IBA. Although this site is small (only 10,885 ha), due to its altitudinal variation and varied habitats, it is an important protected area for the conservation of globally threatened pheasants and many high altitude forest birds. Detailed studies on the bird life are urgently required to know the density and abundance of various species.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Prior to Independence, more than 50 years ago, the Hangul could be seen throughout the year but more commonly during rutting time in October, above 3,000 m (Mukherjee and Mahajan 1978).

They were never numerous in Himachal, probably not more than 25 individuals, but now even these are not seen, due to poaching in the early 1950s and 1960s. Their population in Jammu and Kashmir has also declined, so there is little hope of these mammals coming to Himachal from there.

Fortunately, the Sanctuary still has other fauna typical of the high altitude temperate forests and alpine pastures, albeit in small numbers.

The important species found in this IBA are Ibex Capra ibex, Musk Deer Moschus chrysogaster, Serow Nemorhaedus sumatraensis, Himalayan Tahr Hemitragus jemlahicus and Goral Nemorhaedus goral. Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus and Brown Bear Ursus arctos are also found, the later mainly in the alpine pastures. At lower elevations, Leopard Panthera pardus is the main large predator. It also kills livestock, so man-animal conflict is common. Smaller predators include the Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, Himalayan Weasel Mustela sibirica, Jungle Cat Felis chaus, Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Yellow-throated Marten Martes flavigula and Himalayan Palm Civet Paguma larvata is common in the alpine areas. Barking Deer or Indian Muntjak Muntiacus muntjak, Indian Porcupine Hystrix indica and Common Giant Flying Squirrel Petaurista petaurista are mostly found below 3,000 m in forested areas.

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 

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 hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
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 likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Gamgul Siahbehi Sanctuary 10,885 is identical to site 10,885  


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: Human settlement; Urban transport

Acknowledgements Key contributor: Sanjeeva Pandey.


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

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

Mukherjee, R. N. and Mahajan, K. K. (1978) Gamugal Siya-Behi Sanctuary, Himachal Pradesh. Cheetal. 20(1): 41-43.

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.

Sondhi, S. and Sondhi, A. (1998) Trip Report: Gangul Siahbehi Sanctuary. Unpublished.

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: Gamgul Siahbehi Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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