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Location India, Karnataka
Central coordinates 77o 5.13' East  11o 50.02' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 53,952 ha
Altitude 600 - 1,800m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, is the easternmost extension of the main Western Ghats. This unique extension constitutes a live bridge between the Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats with the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary located near the middle of this bridge. Thus the biota of Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary is expected to be similar to that of Western Ghats, with a significant proportion of Eastern Ghats elements as well. It is named after the Biligiri (white cliff) on which the temple of Lord Rangaswamy is located. The Sanctuary is the only large patch of forest left outside the main Western Ghats. The entire spectrum of macro-habitats is represented within the 54,000 ha of the Sanctuary. The major vegetation within the Sanctuary has been recorded (Ramesh 1989). Deciduous (moist and dry) comprises about 61%, scrub 28%, and grassland about 3.4%. Higher elevation areas are characterized by evergreen (6.5%) and high altitude sholas (0.8%) (Ramesh 1989).

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary is very rich in birds: 245 species have been reported from this IBA (Aravind et al. 2001). As fairly detailed bird list of this site is available, we find that many biome-restricted species are seen here, especially of Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forest) and Biome-11 (Indo- Malayan Tropical Dry Zone). Thirteen out of 15 Biome-10, and 34 out of 59 Biome-11 species have been located till now. This proves that the habitat is still in a good shape. Three Near Threatened species are also seen here but this site may not be very important for their conservation, as two of them (Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala and Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus) are wetland birds, while the third, Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus, is very widely distributed in the country. The Pied or White-winged Black Tit Parus nuchalis is a bird of thorn forests (Ali and Ripley 1987; Grimmett et al. 1998), while the Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon Columba elphinstonii lives in thick evergreen forests and moves around a lot in search of fruiting trees. As this site has both Tropical Dry Deciduous and Tropical Moist Deciduous Forests, this IBA provides habitats for both these globally threatened species. Another bird of conservation concern is the Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus (Karthikeyan et al. 1995) found in the drier parts of this site.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Biligri Rangaswamy Sanctuary is rich in large mammals such as Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard Panthera pardus, Gaur Bos frontalis, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Spotted Deer Axis axis and Four-horned Antelope Tetracerus quadricornis. Nearly 35 species of mammals have been identified.

The Sanctuary is also rich in butterflies - 150 species are identified (Aravind et al. 2001).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Indian Vulture Gyps indicus non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Nilgiri Woodpigeon Columba elphinstonii resident  2004  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Broad-tailed Grassbird Schoenicola platyurus resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Wynaad Laughingthrush Garrulax delesserti 2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Nilgiri Blue Robin Myiomela major resident  2004  present  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Biligiri Rangaswami Temp Sanctuary 53,952 is identical to site 53,952  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   68%
Shrubland   28%
Grassland   3%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
forestry -
Notes: Forestry
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature conservation and research

Acknowledgements Key contributors: N. A. Aravind and other workshop participants.


Ali, S. and Ripley, S. D. (1987) Compact Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan (Second Edition). Oxford University Press, Delhi.

Aravind, N. A., Rao, Dinesh and Madhusudan, P. S. (2001) Additions to the Birds of Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, Western Ghats, India. Zoo’s Print 16(7): 541-547.

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

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

Grimmett, R., Inskipp, C. and Inskipp, T. (1998) Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Christopher Helm (Publishers) Ltd., London, U.K.

Karthikeyan, S., Prasad J. N. and Srinivasa T. S. (1995) Yellow-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus xantholaemus (Jerdon) at Biligirirangan Hills, Karnataka. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 92 (1): 123-124.

Ramesh, B. R. (1989) Flora of Biligirirangan Hill. Ph.D. Thesis, Madras University, Madras (Unpublished).

Srinivasa, T. S., Karthikeyan, S.and Prasad, J. N. (1997) Faunal survey of Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary. Merlin Nature Club, Bangalore.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary and Hills. Downloaded from on 18/04/2015

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