email a friend
printable version
Location India, Himachal Pradesh
Central coordinates 78o 39.00' East  31o 20.38' North
IBA criteria A1, A2
Area 65,000 ha
Altitude 3,200 - 5,486m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Located in the catchment area of the Baspa Valley, the Sangla Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the arid zone of the middle Himalayas. The flora and fauna is therefore quite unique. Govind Wildlife Sanctuary of Uttaranchal is adjacent to its southern boundary, and a little beyond the eastern boundary of the Sangla Sanctuary lies the Tibetan plateau (Singh et al. 1990). The high altitude areas (above 2,000 m) of this Sanctuary are less accessible and therefore, less disturbed. Thick forests of Deodar Cedrus deodara, and Chilgoza pine Pinus girardiana, and broadleaf species are found from 2,000 m upwards. From 2,800 m upwards, Fir-Spruce Mixed Forest with bamboo-dominated undergrowth prevails. This Sanctuary is known for its vast alpine pastures. The forest clad hill slopes are very steep, punctuated with rock outcropping bearing no vegetation at all. Such habitats alternate with a vast number of hill streams (nullahs), which descend to meet the main valleys of Shong, Barua, Rukti and Batseri nullahs. The precipitous hill slopes in these remote valleys make them difficult for humans to approach, but are suitable for wildlife. Five major forest types are seen in this Sanctuary: Dry Alpine Scrub, Dry Temperate Coniferous Forest, Dry Broadleaf and Coniferous Forest, Upper West Himalayan Temperate Forests, and Lower Western Himalayan Temperate Forests. This classification is based on Champion and Seth (1968). The higher reaches are snowbound most of the year, and four glaciers are located within the Sanctuary. The alpine area of Sangla WLS has a rich growth of herbs. The local villagers earn part of their livelihood by collecting and selling them. The most important herb, collected in quantities, is Dhup Jurinea macrocephella. Other herbs are Karu Gentiana kurroo, Patish Aconitum heterophyllum, and Kuth Banafsha Viola canescens, Saussurea lappa. Several herbs found in the alpine pastures of this Sanctuary are of great importance in Ayurvedic medicine.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Highly endangered species of pheasants, including the Western Tragopan Tragopan melanocephalus are found in this Sanctuary. Other pheasants are Himalayan or Impeyan Monal Lophophorus impejanus, Koklass Pucrasia macrolopha and Kaleej Pheasant Lophura leucomelana. Sangla also has many species from Biome-5 (Eurasian High Montane), Biome-7 (Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest) and Biome-8 (Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest). A good bird checklist of this high altitude IBA is not available as no work on bird fauna has been done. From the preliminary list, we find that four out of 48 species of Biome-5 listed by BirdLife International (undated) are found here. They are Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis, Himalayan Snowcock Tetraogallus himalayensis, Vinaceous-breasted Pipit Anthus roseatus and Plain Mountain Finch Leucosticte nemoricola. This is just an indicative list. As some parts of this IBA lie in the Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest (Biome-7), we see birds of this biome also, such as Koklass Pheasant, Himalayan Monal, Speckled Wood Pigeon Columba hodgsonii, Himalayan Woodpecker Dendrocopos himalayensis and Yellow-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa flavirostris. Again, this is not an exhaustive list. As the forest is intact in many places, there are chances that many more birds of this Biome would be present. The site lies in the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (EBA) where Stattersfield et al. (1998) have identified 11 restricted range species. From this list of 11 birds, only Cheer Pheasant has been confirmed till now, but more are likely to be present once we have more information on the bird life of this IBA.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The main large mammals found in this sanctuary are Snow Leopard Uncia uncia, Musk Deer Moschus chrysogaster, Bharal Pseudois nayaur, Himalayan Tahr Hemitragus jemlahicus, Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus at high altitudes, bordering alpine and subalpine regions. At lower elevations, Goral Nemorhaedus goral, Serow Nemorhaedus sumatraensis, Leopard Panthera pardus, and Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus are found. No information is available on smaller mammals, reptiles and other fauna.

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

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - large dams happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads 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)  
Sangla Sanctuary 65,000 is identical to site 65,000  


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture

Acknowledgements Key contributor: Sanjeeva Pandey.


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 the forest types of India. Govt. of India Press, Delhi. Pp. 403.

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.

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Sangla (Raksham Chitkul) Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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