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Location India, Karnataka
Central coordinates 75o 45.20' East  12o 16.50' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 18,129 ha
Altitude 65 - 1,607m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description The Sanctuary, located on the Karnataka-Kerala border, adjoins Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala. It is separated from the Nagarhole National Park by a narrow strip of coffee estates and from the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary by a thick evergreen forest corridor and coffee estates. It forms the catchment for the Lakshmanathirtha river, a tributary of the Cauvery. On the lower altitudes and slopes, evergreen forests dominate, while on the higher hills, montane sholas and grasslands are found.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Thejaswi Shivanand (pers. comm. 2002) has identified at least 135 species from the Sanctuary. The threatened White-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx major, the only Shortwing found in south India, has been recorded from this Sanctuary earlier (BirdLife International 2001). Two specimens were collected in April 1881, and one in February 1883, and one male in April 1896 (BirdLife International 2001). Recently, Vijayan, R. (2002) conducted a survey of this species in Karnataka and Goa. He could not locate any Shortwing in Brahmagiri, but it is likely to be found here as the habitat is still suitable. Stattersfield et al. (1998) have identified 16 endemic or restricted range species in the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area (EBA). At this site, 12 of them are found, which proves that the natural forest is largely intact because most of these restricted range species are forest birds (see Ali and Ripley 1987, Grimmett et al. 1998). Some of them, e.g. Blue-winged Parakeet Psittacula columboides and Small Sunbird Nectarinia minima are quite common, while others like the White-bellied Shortwing are listed as Vulnerable by BirdLife International (2001). The Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon Columba elphinstonii is considered Vulnerable by BirdLife International (2001) owing to its small, declining population, as a result of the widespread destruction of its forest habitat. More than hundred years ago it was comparatively common in the Brahmagiris in Coorg (Davison 1883) but subsequently Betts (1951) did not record it. As Davison has mentioned, this pigeon “moves about a good deal, and a shola that may be full of them one week, will not contain a single specimen the following week; this is due …. To the prevalence or otherwise of berries”. This site lies in Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forest BirdLife International undated). Fifteen species are listed in this Biome, of which 12 have been reported from here (S. Thejaswi pers. comm. 2003). This further shows the importance of this site as an excellent habitat for the birds of the Western Ghats EBA. Nine species listed in Biome-11 (Indo- Malayan Tropical Dry Zone) are also found at this site but they all are widespread and some are fairly common. Only one, Redheaded or King Vulture Sarcogyps calvus, is listed as Near Threatened (BirdLife International 2001).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Four species of primate are present in the Sanctuary: Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus, Nilgiri Langur Trachypithecus johni, Lion-tailed Macaque Macaca silenus and Bonnet Macaque Macaca radiata. Recently, Groves (2001) has upgraded different subspecies of Semnopithecus to full species status. According to this classification, the site harbours the Black-footed Gray Langur S. hypoleucos, perhaps the most endangered primate in India.

Among the predators, Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard Panthera pardus, Wild Dog Cuon alpinus and Jungle Cat Felis chaus are common. Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus and Wild Boar Sus scrofa are also present. Herbivores include the Asian Elephant Elephas maximus, Mouse Deer Moschiola meminna, Indian Muntjak Muntiacus muntjak, Chital or Spotted Deer Axis axis, Sambar C.

unicolor and Gaur Bos frontalis. Reptiles include the Draco or Gliding Lizard Draco dussumieri, King Cobra Ophiophagus hannah and Bamboo Pit Viper Trimeresurus gramineus. Ansonia oronata, an endangered amphibian endemic to the Western Ghats has been recorded from the Brahmagiri hills.

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 
Nilgiri Woodpigeon Columba elphinstonii resident  2004  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
Malabar Parakeet Psittacula columboides resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Malabar Grey Hornbill Ocyceros griseus resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
White-bellied Treepie Dendrocitta leucogastra resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Grey-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus priocephalus resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Near Threatened 
Rufous Babbler Turdoides subrufa resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Wynaad Laughingthrush Garrulax delesserti resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Garrulax jerdoni resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Not Recognised 
Brachypteryx major resident  2004  present  A1, A2, A3  Not Recognised 
Black-and-rufous Flycatcher Ficedula nigrorufa resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Near Threatened 
Nilgiri Flycatcher Eumyias albicaudatus resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Near Threatened 
White-bellied Blue-flycatcher Cyornis pallipes resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Crimson-backed Sunbird Nectarinia minima resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2003 low not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - agro-industry plantations 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 small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - large dams likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Brahmagiri Sanctuary 18,129 is identical to site 18,129  
Western Ghats World Heritage Site 0 protected area contains site 18,129  


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

Land use

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

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Thejaswi Shivanand, A. Sivaprakash and S. V. Narasimhan..


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

Betts, F. N. (1951) The birds of Coorg. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 50: 20- 63, 224-263.

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

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

Davison, W. (1883) Notes on some birds collected on the Nilghiris and in parts of Wynaad and southern Mysore. Stray Feathers 10: 329-419.

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

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

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.

Vijayan, R. (2002) Status of the White-bellied Shortwing in Karnataka and Goa. Technical Report. Pp. 18. Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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