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Location India, Maharashtra
Central coordinates 73o 35.15' East  19o 14.47' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 13,078 ha
Altitude 650 - 1,140m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description The Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary lies in the northern part of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra. It is situated at the crest of the main Sahyadri range and includes spurs running gradually into the eastern plains, as well as steep terraced western slopes leading to the Konkan. Three rivers, Bhima, Ghod and Arala, originate from the western part of the Sanctuary. The crest of the Sanctuary experiences high velocity winds from December to March and is completely fog-bound during the monsoon. The main physical features of the Sanctuary are ridges, hill slopes, plateau, uplands, gorges, ravines, cliffs, valleys, rocky stream basins, spurs with flat tops, and valleys. Bhimashankar Sanctuary is famous for the highly endangered subspecies of the Indian Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica elphinstoni, locally known as Shekru. This is the state animal of Maharashtra. At the heart of the Sanctuary there is an old shrine of Bheema Shankar at the origin of the River Bhima. The Sanctuary includes Semi-evergreen, Moist Deciduous and scrub forest. It contains several evergreen species that are locally abundant only in restricted localities in the Western Ghats. Some plant species are Memecylon umbellatum, Atlantia racemosa and Xantolis tomentosa. Carvia callosa is another interesting species. During monsoon, various species of mosses and epiphytes including bioluminescent fungi can be seen on the trees.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Gole (2000) listed over 172 bird species in the Sanctuary, including several globally threatened and restricted range species. The Sanctuary is at the crest of the Western Ghats and the northernmost distribution of some of the restricted range avian species of the Western Ghats. The site falls in the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area (Stattersfield et al. 1998). Of the 15 Biome-10 species (BirdLife International, undated), five have been identified from Bhimashankar. The site also has 15 Biome-11 species. The Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon Columba elphinstonii, a globally threatened and restricted range species of the Western Ghats (BirdLife International 2001), generally arrives in February and can be seen/heard till the break up of the monsoon in end June (Gole 2000). It leaves the high rainfall plateau during the monsoon to reappear in winter. Its arrival is also dependent on the fruiting season. Several other pigeons species and parakeets such as the Blue-winged or Malabar Parakeet Psittacula columboides and Plum-headed Parakeet Psittacula cyanocephala also visit the Sanctuary from late winter onwards. Malabar Grey Hornbill Ocyceros griseus, an endemic species, is generally found below the plateau on the Konkan side and not observed in the plateau. While the Yellow-browed Bulbul Iole virescens, a biome species, and White-bellied Blue-flycatcher Cyornis pallipes, an endemic species, are hill species and seldom seen below 620 m (Gole 2000). Small Sunbird Nectarinia minima, another endemic of the Western Ghats has good resident population in this IBA. One of the most interesting winter visitors to this site is the Tytler’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus tytleri, a bird of the Western Himalaya (Ali and Ripley 1987, Grimmett et al. 1998). It winters in the Western Ghats, and perhaps a significant population winters in this IBA. Trevor Price (pers. comm. 2001) has seen a high density wintering in the neighbouring Mahabaleswar forests. This site also has good population of the Grey-fronted or Pampadour Green Pigeon Treron pompadora affinis. Recently, this subspecies has been upgraded to a full-fledged species called Treron affinis (Rassmusen and Anderton, in press). This means that one more species is added in the list of endemic species of the Western Ghats.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Leopard Panthera pardus is the largest carnivore of this Sanctuary.

Its main prey species are the Sambar Cervus unicolor, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Wild Boar Sus scrofa, Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus, Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta and Mouse Deer Moschiola meminna. Other carnivores include the Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena and Golden Jackal Canis aureus.

Indian Pangolin Manis crassicaudata is also reported, but being nocturnal, is not easily seen.

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 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
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 resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Malabar Grey Hornbill Ocyceros griseus resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Tytler's Leaf-warbler Phylloscopus tytleri winter  2004  present  A2  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

2013 medium not assessed medium
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - unintentional effects (species is not the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Forest   0 0 good (> 90%) moderate (70-90%) near favourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  Unknown  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Bhimashankar Sanctuary 13,078 is identical to site 13,078  


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature conservation and research
rangeland/pastureland -
Notes: Livestock grazing
tourism/recreation -
Notes: Tourism and recreation
urban/industrial/transport -
Notes: Transport

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Prakash Gole and Renee Borges.


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

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.

Gole, P. (2000) Survey of Birds of Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary and formulation of Management guidelines for their protection.Final Report. A project sponsored by the Forest Department, Government of Maharashtra.

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

Rasmussen, P. C. and Anderton, J. C. (in press) Birds of South Asia: the Ripley guide. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

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 (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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