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Location India, Karnataka
Central coordinates 75o 44.50' East  13o 29.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 10,292 ha
Altitude 700 - 1,920m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description The Bababudan Hills are a horse-shoe shaped range of high ridges. An eastern offshoot of the Western Ghats, the hills have a valley in the centre of the horse-shoe facing northwest, known as the Jagara Valley (600 m). The hills have an average height of 1,400 m, reaching a maximum of 1,925 m at Mulaianagiri, the highest peak in Karnataka. The ridges are narrow and steep, with cliffs cascading towards the outer end of the horse-shoe, interrupted by hill slopes on the inner side. The hills are covered with grassland on the slopes and luxuriant sholas (Southern Wet Temperate Montane Evergreen Forests) in the ravines and folds between the hills. Kemmangundi is a small, pleasant hill station established on the northern end of the hill range in 1932 by the Maharaja of Mysore, Krishnaraj Wodeyar IV. At 1,434 m, it is located besides an abandoned open-cast iron mine. Kemmangundi in Kannada translates as ‘red soil pit’ (Kemmannu = red soil, gundi = pit), referring to the soil colour in the mining pit as well as the surroundings. Mining for iron ore continues on a small scale on nearby hillsides. Extensive, dense sholas surround the place. Kemmangundi served as a base camp for Sálim Ali in 1940, when he visited the Bababudan Hills as part of his survey of the birds of the erstwhile princely Mysore (Ali 1942-43). The vegetation is southern montane wet temperate forest, interspersed with southern montane wet tropical grasslands. The vegetation at Kemmangundi is degraded due to anthropogenic influences like the extension of the hill station, experimental potato farming, and laying of a formal garden, but the sholas are somewhat less disturbed. The lower slopes have eucalyptus and coffee plantations (Shyamal 1993). The sholas along the Bababudangiri hill range are highly degraded and disturbed, many being planted over by Eucalyptus, and in some areas by Pinus sp.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Sálim Ali collected or recorded 69 species of birds in early 1940 (Ali 1942-43). Vijay Ramachandran, Job K. Joseph and J. Praveen (in litt. 2003) recorded 59 species in a two-day survey of this area. The jaswi Shivanand (pers. comm. 2002) recorded 98 species on a one-week survey in late May 2002. In all, 125 species of birds have been recorded from the area, including two Critically Endangered vultures, and 13 of the 16 restricted range species of the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area. Only those species that are restricted to the southern Western Ghats (Nilgiri Pipit Anthus nilghiriensis, Nilgiri Laughingthrush Garrulax cachinnans, and Black-and-Orange Flycatcher Ficedula nigrorufa) are not found here, otherwise all the other restricted range species are present, which shows that the habitat is largely intact. The IBA lies in Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forest). Altogether, 15 Indian species have been identified in this biome (BirdLife International, undated), of which 12 species are found in this IBA.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: No information.

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 
Malabar Parakeet Psittacula columboides 2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Malabar Grey Hornbill Ocyceros griseus 2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
White-bellied Treepie Dendrocitta leucogastra 2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Grey-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus priocephalus 2004  present  A2, A3  Near Threatened 
Broad-tailed Grassbird Schoenicola platyurus resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Rufous Babbler Turdoides subrufa 2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Wynaad Laughingthrush Garrulax delesserti 2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Kerala Laughingthrush Strophocincla fairbanki resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Near Threatened 
Nilgiri Blue Robin Myiomela major resident  2004  present  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
Nilgiri Flycatcher Eumyias albicaudatus resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Near Threatened 
White-bellied Blue-flycatcher Cyornis pallipes 2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Crimson-backed Sunbird Nectarinia minima 2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 


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

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Thejaswi Shivanand and J. Praveen.


Ali, S. (1942-43) The Birds of Mysore (with notes by Hugh Whistler). In five parts. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 43: 130-147, 318-341, 573-595; 44: 9-26, 206-220.

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

Shyamal, L. (1993) The Rufousbellied Hawk-Eagle at Kemmangundi. Newsletter for Birdwatchers 33(5): 94.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kemmangundi and Bababudan Hills. Downloaded from on 21/04/2015

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