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Location India, Maharashtra
Central coordinates 75o 11.63' East  18o 21.00' North
IBA criteria A1
Area 849,644 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description The Jawaharlal Nehru Bustard Sanctuary is situated in Solapur and Ahmednagar districts, covering a huge area of 849,644 ha. Most of the Sanctuary is under cultivation and human habitation, thus it is not suitable for the Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps. Within this Sanctuary, the grassland plots where the Great Indian Bustard is regularly seen are identified as IBAs (For details about the Jawaharlal Nehru Bustard Sanctuary, see Rahmani 1989, Bharucha 1996). From 1980, Nannaj and Karmala were selected for special conservation measures by the Forest Department for the protection of the Great Indian Bustard. While bustard has almost become extinct in Karmala due to mismanagement of the habitat, it is still surviving in Nannaj, where it is being monitored for the last 23 years by BNHS and the Forest Department. This IBA site description mainly deals with Nannaj area. Nannaj is a small village 20 km north of Solapur on Solapur-Barshi road. The terrain is generally undulating, characteristic of the Deccan plateau. Rainfall is erratic and poorly distributed, with fluctuations over the years. The area around Nannaj can be broadly divided into plantation and grassland plots of Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP) and District Rural Development Authority (DRDA), unprotected grazing land and crop fields. Important grasslands where the Great Indian Bustard is or was seen are: Nannaj plots, Mardi grazing land and grassland, Akolekati plantation and grassland, Vadala grazing land, Gangewadi plantation, Mohol grazing land and grassland, and Gangewadi grazing land. The natural vegetation of the sanctuary can be classified as Southern Tropical Thorn Forest (Champion and Seth 1968) and Tropical Grassland. However, the natural vegetation has more or less disappeared, and in the non-agricultural areas, scrub and grasslands are seen. Grasses such as Sehima nervosum, Eremopogon foveolatus and Cymbopogon martinii dominate the land (Rahmani 1989).

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Nannaj is one of the critical sites where the Endangered Great Indian Bustard is surviving (Rahmani 1989, 1993 and unpublished). During the monsoon of 2003, six male and 17 female bustards were seen. In 2002-2003, 7 juveniles were seen, indicating successful breeding (B. Habib pers. comm. 2003). Historically the Great Indian Bustard occupied a large range in the Indian subcontinent, mostly from dry areas. Once thought “abundant” throughout its range, currently the population of this species is considered “very rare and apparently decreasing”. The bustard locally called Maldhok in Maharashtra, was earlier seen mainly during the monsoon in the grassland plots of Nannaj and other areas (Rahmani and Manakadan 1986) but during the last 10 years, they are seen throughout the year, although more birds are found during monsoon. They breed in the grassland plots of the Sanctuary and the adjoining areas. Apart from the Great Indian Bustard, about 134 bird species have been recorded in this Sanctuary, including the Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala, White-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus, Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus, Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, White-eyed Buzzard Butastur teesa, Scavenger Vulture Neophron percnopterus, Black-headed or White Ibis Threskiornis melanocephala, Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber, Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea, Northern Pintail Anas acuta, Common Teal Anas crecca, Spotbilled Duck Anas poecilorhyncha, Gadwall Anas strepera, and Great Horned Owl Bubo bubo. There are occasional records of the Lesser Florican Sypheotides indica also. This IBA is also an important breeding ground for grassland species such as Indian Courser Cursorius coromandelicus, Yellow-wattled Lapwing Vanellus malabaricus, Chestnut bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles exustus, Indian Bushlark Mirafra erythroptera, Sykes’s Crested Lark Galerida deva and Ashy-crowned Finch-lark or Sparrow-lark Eremopterix grisea. In the monsoon, Rain Quail or Black-breasted Quail Coturnix coromandelica, and Rock Bush Quail Perdicula argoondah breed in large numbers. Nannaj grasslands are also wintering site for 25-35 harriers, mainly the Montagu’s Circus pygargus and Pallid or Pale C. macrourus. Redheaded Falcon Falco chicquera is regularly found hunting small birds, especially during the monsoon.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Besides the Great Indian Bustard, Nannaj has a resident pack of Indian or Grey Wolf Canis lupus (Kumar and Rahmani 1997).

Occasionally, up to 12 wolves, including juveniles, are seen. Their main natural prey is the Blackbuck Antilope cervicapra, but there are instances when bustards were killed by them. Indian Fox Vulpes bengalensis and Golden Jackal Canis aureus are the other two predators. Both are dangerous to bustard eggs and unfledged chicks. Chinkara Gazelle bennettii is present in Karmala and other parts of the Sanctuary, but is never seen in Nannaj. Common reptiles of the Deccan are also found here.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps resident  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Lesser Florican Sypheotides indicus resident  2004  present  A1  Endangered 

IBA Monitoring

2013 very high very unfavourable medium

Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high

Grassland   0 0 very poor (< 40%) very poor (< 40%) very unfavourable

Ardeotis nigriceps Great Indian Bustard 23 13 individuals 57 unfavourable

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)  
Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary 849,644 is identical to site 849,644  


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature Conservation
rangeland/pastureland -
Notes: Grazing

Acknowledgements Key contributors: A. R. Rahmani and R. Manakadan.


Bharucha, E. K. (1996) Evolving a rational strategy for an integrated protection area system in Maharashtra. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 93: 513-554.

Kumar, S. and Rahmani, A. R. (1997) Status of Indian Grey Wolf Canis lupus pallipes and its conservation in marginal agricultural areas of Solapur district, Maharashtra. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 94 (3): 466-472.

Rahmani, A. R. and Manakadan, R. (1986) Movement and flock composition of the Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps (Vigors) at Nannaj, Solapur District, Maharashtra, India. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 83: 17-30.

Rahmani, A. R. (1989) The Great Indian Bustard: Final Report. Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay. Pp. 234.

Rahmani, A. R. (1993) Project Bustard: Last Chance to Save the Great Indian Bustard. In: Bird Conservation- Strategies for the Nineties and Beyond (eds. Verghese, A., Sridhar, S. and Chakravarthy, A. K.). Ornithological Society of India, Bangalore. Pp.73-75.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Jawaharlal Nehru Bustard Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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