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Location India, Kerala
Central coordinates 76o 4.60' East  11o 54.47' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 34,444 ha
Altitude 640 - 1,158m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Wynaad derives its name from the numerous swamps (locally called vayals). Wynaad Wildlife Sanctuary is situated contiguous to the protected area network of Nagarhole and Bandipur (Karnataka) in the northeast and Mudumalai (Tamil Nadu) in the southeast. The area falls in Wynaad revenue district of Kerala as two discontinuous segments. The northern segment is the Tholpetty Wildlife Range in Manantoddy taluka, lying adjacent to Nagarhole National Park. The southern segment comprises of Kurichiat, Sultan’s Battery and Muthanga Wildlife Ranges, lying adjacent to Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. The total area measures 34,444 ha. A wide area of cultivation separates the two segments. There are extensive plantations and several cultivated enclosures within the Sanctuary, constituting the major portion of the Sanctuary. Wynaad is an extension of the Deccan plateau to the west, bounded by Coorg and Mysore in the north and east, Nilgiris in the south and Mallapuram and Calicut in the southwest. The Ghat section is separated by the Brahmagiri Dindimal ranges. The average altitude of the plateau is 700 m, but many peaks exceed 1,500 m. The only river, the Kabani, originates in the Western Ghats and flows east (Zacharias and Gaston 1997). Wynaad Wildlife Sanctuary forms a western part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, which bears several forest types such as the Deciduous, Moist Deciduous, Semi-evergreen and Evergreen types. Wynaad is considered one of the most important wildlife sanctuaries of the Western Ghats. The migratory paths of terrestrial wildlife of Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve end at Wynaad Wildlife Sanctuary in the northwest portion. Hence this forest is significant from the protection point of view. Wynaad receives more rain than the adjacent tracts in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This results in the annual mass movement of major herbivores to the Wynaad portion during the lean period. Hence, it is all the more important that Wynaad forest should be adequately protected. The Sanctuary was declared in 1973, but is being protected effectively only after bringing it under the Wynaad Wildlife Division, formed in 1985. Moist Deciduous Forest is the climax vegetation of the area, occurring in areas with an annual rainfall of 1100-1900 mm. Except along the western edges and in a few other pockets, climatic conditions do not favour the formation of climax evergreen vegetation. Despite the removal of teak, two Moist Deciduous forest sub-types are still discernible: forests with and without teak Tectona grandis in areas of lower and higher rainfall, respectively. Where teak is predominant, the forest generally attains a height of about 20 m and the canopy is more or less closed; the soil is reddish and deep, and typically supports a thin herbaceous cover. The marshes have a lush growth of grasses and the good bamboo Bambusa arundinacea growth occurs along their edges. Nair et al. (1978) provide a more detailed description of the vegetation, and lists of common tree, shrub, climber and grass species.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni passage  2004  present  A1  Least Concern 
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Indian Vulture Gyps indicus non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Wood Snipe Gallinago nemoricola winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
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-naped Tit Parus nuchalis resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
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 
Black-chinned Laughingthrush Strophocincla cachinnans resident  2004  present  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
Black-chinned Laughingthrush Strophocincla cachinnans resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Endangered 
Crimson-backed Sunbird Nectarinia minima 2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Wayanad Sanctuary 34,444 is identical to site 34,444  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   -
Shrubland   -
Artificial - terrestrial   -

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 contributor: The IBA Team.


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.

Davison, W. (1883) Notes on some birds collected on the Nilghiris and in parts of Wynaad and southern Mysore. Stray Feathers 10(5): 329-419.

Nair, S. S. C., Nair, P. V., Sharatchandra, H.C., Gadgil, M. (1978) An ecological reconnaissance of the proposed Jawahar National Park. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 74: 401-435.

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.

Thomas, J., Jahas, S. and Easa, P. S. (1997) Status and Distribution of Reptiles in Wayanad, Kerala. Cobra 28: 25-30.

Uthaman, P. K. (1993) Birds of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Blackbuck 9(1): 1–17.

Zacharias, V. J and Gaston, A. J. (1997) The birds of Wyanaad, southern india. Forktail 12. Pp. 1-10.

Zacharias, V. J. and Gaston, A. J. (1999) The recent distribution of endemic, disjunct and globally uncommon birds in the forests of Kerala State, south-west India. Bird Conservation International 9: 191–225.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Wynaad Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 20/10/2014

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