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Location India, Himachal Pradesh
Central coordinates 77o 7.50' East  32o 16.40' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 3,180 ha
Altitude 2,273 - 5,173m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Manali is a popular tourist resort in Himachal Pradesh, due to its spectacular scenery, but not many people, even officials, know that there is a little-known 3,180 ha Manali Wildlife Sanctuary, notified as long ago as 1954 under the Punjab Birds and Wild Animals Protection Act, 1933. It was mainly established to safeguard the catchment area of Manalsu Nullah, an important tributary of the Beas River. The Manali Sanctuary and adjoining forested areas provide good habitats for many pheasant species, even though the Forest Department had planted many non-native species such as Poplar, Willow and Robinia. The vegetation type, as classified by Champion and Seth (1968) is as follows: Alpine Pastures, Kharsu Oak Forest, Moist Temperate Deciduous Forest, Western Mixed Coniferous Forest, Moist Deodar Forest and Ban Oak Forest. Juniper Juniperus communis is present above the tree-line, along with Rhododendron.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: At least 149 species of birds have been recorded from the Manali area (Gaston et al. 1981). Western Tragopan Tragopan melanocephalus, Himalayan Monal Lophophorus impejanus, and Koklass Pheasant Pucrasia macrolopha are present in small numbers. Based on their surveys in 1979-1980, Gaston et al. (1981) estimate about 50 Western Tragopan. The Monal population is much larger, in the range of 250 pairs. Koklass is the most abundant large pheasant species in this Park, common at the lower end of Hamta Nullah and Solang Nullah. This site is selected as an IBA mainly because of its good population of globally threatened Western Tragopan. Historically, the Manali Sanctuary had Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichii, even as late as the 1980s. Its status since then is not known, mainly due to lack of proper surveys. As the Cheer Pheasant can survive in slightly disturbed habitat (Kaul 1989, Garson et al. 1992, BirdLife International 2001), it could still be surviving in Manali Sanctuary despite the pressure from tourists (R. Kaul in litt. 2003). At higher reaches in the alpine zones, Himalayan Snowcock Tetraogallus himalayensis and Snow Partridge Lerwa lerwa are seen, representing Biome-5 species.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Of larger mammals, 18 species have been recorded in the Manali area (Gaston et al. 1981, 1983, Singh et al. 1990). These include the Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus, Brown Bear Ursus arctos, Leopard Panthera pardus, Musk Deer Moschus chrysogaster, and Serow Nemorhaedus sumatraensis. Smaller carnivores include the Jungle Cat Felis chaus, Himalayan Palm Civet Paguma larvata and Yellow-throated Marten Martes flavigula.

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 

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) - nomadic grazing happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
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 gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not 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
Energy production and mining mining and quarrying happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities 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)  
Manali Sanctuary 3,180 is identical to site 3,180  


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

Land use

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

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Sanjeeva Pandey and S. Sathyakumar.


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

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

Garson, P. J., Young, L. and Kaul, R. (1992) Ecology and Conservation of the Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichii: studies in the wild and the progress of a reintroduction project. Biological Conservation. 59: 25- 35.

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.

Gaston, A. J., Garson, P. J. and Hunter, M.L. Jr (1983) The status and conservation of forest wildlife in Himachal Pradesh, Western Himalayas. Biological Conservation 27: 291-314.

Kaul, R. (1989) Ecology of Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichii in Kumaun Himalaya. Ph.D. thesis, University of Kashmir, Srinagar.

Rodgers, W. A. and Panwar, H.S. (1988) Planning a wildlife protected area network in India. 2 vols. Project FO: IND/82/003. FAO, Dehra Dun.

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.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Manali Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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