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Location India, Jammu & Kashmir
Central coordinates 79o 0.00' East  32o 48.00' North
IBA criteria A1
Area 8,000 ha
Altitude 4,250 - 4,350m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description These marshes are located west and north of Hanle village in Ladakh, near the border with China. They are partly state owned and partly under the Hanle Buddhist monastery. The habitat is a complex of fast flowing streams, stagnant pools, saline marshes, seasonally flooded marshes, and bogs along the Hanle river, 45 km south of its confluence with the Indus river. The wetlands are frozen from November to April and are fed by snowmelt in summer. The freshwater pools shelter species such as Hydrilla, Myriophyllum, Potamogeton, and an edible aquatic lichen

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: The area is an important breeding ground for various waterfowl including the Black-necked crane Grus nigricollis. There is a recent report of three breeding pairs of Black-necked crane in the Hanle marshes and one in Lal Pahri (Rauf Zargar pers. comm. 2003). This site is also an important breeding area for the Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea and the Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus. During autumn migration many birds pass through this site, including the globally threatened Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga. It uses the plain as the last staging site before crossing the Himalayan range (Pfister 2001).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The slopes above Hanle plain are an important habitat of Tibetan Wild Ass or Kiang Equus kiang. In 1995-96 the first Tibetan Gazelle Procapra picticaudata was seen here after 35 years of regional extinction. The Tibetan Wolf Canis lupus chanco and Red Fox Vulpes vulpes are also found. Besides, Weasel Mustela sp. Blue Sheep or Bharal Pseudois nayaur, Argali Ovis ammon, Marmot Marmota sp and Woolly hare Lepus oiostolus are commonly found.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis breeding  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 

IBA Monitoring

2003 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%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Agriculture and aquaculture wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - agro-industry plantations happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance war, civil unrest and military exercises happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland   -
Wetlands (inland)   -
Artificial - terrestrial   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland -
Notes: Grazing
tourism/recreation -
Notes: Local recreation (no tourist permit is issued to this area)
water management -
Notes: Water management

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Otto Pfister and Rauf Zargar.


Pfister, O. (2001) Birds recorded during visits to Ladakh, India, from 1994 to 1997. Oriental Bird Club, London, Forktail 17: 81-90.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Hanle Plains (Hanle River marshes). Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

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