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Location India, Jammu & Kashmir
Central coordinates 74o 22.00' East  34o 9.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 4,375 ha
Altitude 2,300 - 4,000m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society



Site description Limbar Valley Wildlife Sanctuary derives its name from the Limbar Nala that drains it and Limbar village that lies in its lower catchment. It is about 74 km northwest of Srinagar, on the Srinagar- Uri national highway. It is bounded to the north by Bhurji Forest in Langet Forest Division, to the south by the River Jhelum, east by Katha Forest and to the west by Salamabad Forest. Earlier it was a game reserve, but in 1987, it was notified as a wildlife sanctuary with a core area of 1,200 ha. It comprises the entire catchment of Limbar Nala, that flows almost north to south. Limber Nala joins the Jhelum river near Pringal village. The topography of this Sanctuary consists of steep slopes, broken by precipitous cliffs in the upper reaches of the valley. Extensive avalanches and landslides are characteristic of the upper valleys. Limbar Valley WLS contains several floral types. The Coniferous forest consists of Deodar Cedrus deodara dominated forest, with Parrotiopsis jacquemontiana and Viburnum grandiflorum understorey; Blue Pine forest dominated by Pinus griffithii, with stands of Deodar, Silver Fir Abies pindrow and Spruce Picea smithiana; and the third type is Silver Fir forest, with some Pine and Spruce. Broadleaved forest consists of Chinar Platanus orientalis stands near the village Limbar, Walnut Juglans regia wood cover and stands of Horse Chestnut Aesculus indica near the riverine belt of Viji (Mithawani area). The tree line along the gentle alpine slopes supports Birch Betula utilis, with isolated trees of Horse Chestnut, Silver Fir and Walnut. Juniper Juniperus recurva and Rhododendron anthopogon grow at higher elevations. The Alpine meadows have a rich herbaceous ground cover of genera Inula, Caltha, Primula, Potentilla, Corydalis, Gentiana, Anemone, Myosotis and Polygonum (Bacha 1999).

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Limbar Valley is one of the most important sites for the globally Endangered and Restricted Range Western Tragopan Tragopan melanocephalus and Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichii. According to the Department of Wildlife Protection (Bacha 2000), the average density of Western Tragopan in the potential areas is 5 birds/ sq km, with an approximate population of 156 to 170 birds. In more suitable areas, the density is 6 birds/ sq km, perhaps the highest in the world. This site was selected as an IBA because of the presence of these two threatened species. Koklass Pheasant Pucrasia macrolopha, Himalayan or Impeyan Monal Lophophorus impejanus, Himalayan Snowcock Tetraogallus himalayensis and Chukor Alectoris chukar are also present. Among raptors, Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, Oriental Hobby Falco severus and the Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus are frequently seen (Javed 1992). Many Restricted Range and Biome-restricted species are also seen here. Javed (1992) identified 74 species during two surveys in 1988 and 1989. Hussain et al. (1989) during bird ringing studies, ringed 70 species. Limbar Valley lies in the Western Himalaya Endemic Bird Area (EBA 128), where Stattersfield et al. (1998) have listed 11 Restricted Range species. Of these, two have been found here, both with significant populations. The Limbar Valley has two biomes: Biome-5 Eurasian High Montane (Alpine and Tibetan) from above c. 3,600 m, and Biome-7 Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest, between c. 1,800 m and 3,600 m. BirdLife International (undated) has prepared a list of biome species. Out of the 48 Biome-5 species, two are found here, both widespread and common. Similarly, eight species of Biome-7 are found, out of 112 listed by BirdLife International. As detailed research on the birds of Limbar Valley has not been conducted, many more species of these biomes are likely to be present.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The area is one of the few remaining refuges of the Markhor Capra falconeri in Jammu and Kashmir. The subspecies cashmiriensis here has horns which diverge less, and in an old male, show two complete twists or spirals (Prater 1980). Limbar Valley is also famous for its population of Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus and Brown Bear Ursus arctos. The former is found in steep forested hills, which abound in Limbar Valley. Like all animals of the temperate hilly regions, it also undertakes altitudinal movement, depending upon season. In winter it can be seen as low as 1,525 m, much below its normal range of 3,000-4,000 m. The Brown Bear is found in the alpine pastures of the Limbar Valley, above 4,000 m and never comes down. It hibernates in winter.

Among ungulates, the Himalayan Musk Deer Moschus chrysogaster is found, but due to fear of poaching, it is very elusive and not easy to see. Another quite common ungulate is Goral Nemorhaedus goral. Leopard Panthera pardus is its main natural predator. Himalayan Mouse Hare Ochotona roylei is extremely common and forms the main food of the Red Fox Vulpes vulpes.

Himalayan Yellow-throated Martin Martes flavigula is one of the smaller predators.

Among the primates, Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta, and Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus are present. The Common Langur has been recently divided into seven species (Groves 2001) and the species found in Limbar Valley would be either S. schistaceus or S. ajax.

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, A3  Vulnerable 
Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichii resident  2004  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Limber Sanctuary 4,375 is identical to site 4,375  

Habitats

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

Acknowledgements Key contributors: M. S. Bacha and M. A. Parsa.

References 

Bacha, M. S. (1999) Centrally Sponsored Schemes: Development of National Parks and Sanctuaries and Eco-Development around Protected Areas of Limbar Wildlife Sanctuary. Department of Wildlife Protection, Jammu and Kashmir Government, Srinagar.

Bacha, M. S. (2000) Development of Natural Parks and Sanctuaries: Limbar Valley Wildlife Sanctuary (2000-2001). Department of Wildlife Protection, Jammu and Kashmir Government, Srinagar.

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

Groves, C. (2001) Primate Taxonomy. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Hussain, S. A. (1989) Bird Migration Project Annual Report. Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay. Pp 62.

Javed, S. (1992) Birds of Limbar Valley Forest (Jammu & Kashmir). Newsletter for Birdwatchers 32(5&6): 13-15.

Prater, S. H. (1980) The book of Indian Animals. (Third edition) Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay.

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 (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Limbar Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/11/2014

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