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Location India, Maharashtra
Central coordinates 77o 0.10' East  21o 28.27' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 115,003 ha
Altitude 312 - 1,178m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description The Melghat Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve lies at the northern extreme of Amravati district of Maharashtra on the Madhya Pradesh border. It is situated on a southern offshoot of the Satpura range. The name Melghat means the place where the ghats meet. The core area (36,128 ha) is formed by the Gugamal National Park and the buffer area (78,828 ha), by the Melghat Wildlife Sanctuary. These were together re-notified by the state government in 1994 as the Melghat Tiger Reserve. The remaining area (52,693 ha) is managed as a ‘multiple use area’. The Variat Devi Point in the Chikaldhara Plateau is at 1,178 m, the highest point in Melghat. The vegetation is mainly Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest. Besides these forests, there are grassy meadows throughout the Reserve, especially on the hilltops. The terrain of the Melghat Tiger Reserve is a rugged portion of the Gavilgarh hills, which are a part of the Satpuras. Topographically it consists of a succession of hills and valleys. The main ridge, called Gavilgarh Ridge, runs east-west on the southern part of the Reserve. It is a flat plateau on top, descending in abrupt and sharp precipitous scarps on both sides and then steep slopes down to narrow valleys. These abrupt variations in altitude, aspect and gradient are seen throughout the Reserve. The Plateau was earlier used for agriculture. The Reserve is a catchment area for five major streams, all of which are tributaries of the River Tapti. The forest type is Tropical Dry Deciduous, dominated by Teak Tectona grandis and Bamboo. There are patches of Semi-evergreen and Moist Deciduous Forests. The dominant species is Teak (30- 70%), which was planted in a large area clear felled for this purpose. There are many species of orchids, ferns, grasses and other herbs. The common epiphytic orchids are Aerides, Rhynchostylis and Vanda. Ceropegia odorata, an extremely rare species, is found in this area.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: The recently rediscovered Forest Owlet Heteroglaux blewetti has been sighted in this IBA. During a BNHS study in 2000 intended to gather information on the status and distribution of the Forest Owlet in India, one bird was sighted (Ishtiaq and Rahmani 2000). Later, K. Rithe and P. M. Lad (pers. comm. 2003) have seen 4-5 pairs. In a recent survey in March 2004, 39 individuals of this species were seen in Melghat area (G. Jathar, per comm. 2004). After Shahada and Taloda in western Maharashtra (both IBAs), Melghat is the most important site for this Critically Endangered species. Rithe (2003) also identified two Forest Owlets at Raipur, two at Malur, four at Jamodapadao in Melghat and a solitary bird at Mahendri, east of Melghat. He has recorded 10 individuals so far, and estimated a total population of about 50 birds at Melghat and the adjoining forests of Betul and Burhanpur districts in Madhya Pradesh. Savarkar (1987) has identified 252 species of birds from this IBA site. Important old record is of Fairy Bluebird Irena puella and recent records of Great Black Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis, Stork-billed Kingfisher Halcyon capensis and Black-capped Kingfisher H. pileata (Rithe 2003). Kasambe (2002) added four more species to the Melghat bird list: Little Green Heron Butorides striatus, Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax, Sparrow-Hawk Accipiter nisus and Crested Bunting Melophus lathami. Melghat is one of the best areas to see species of the Indo- Malayan Tropical Dry Zone (Biome-11). Out of the 59 species identified by BirdLife International (undated), 44 have been seen here till now. Melghat Tiger Reserves is one of the few sites in India that come under the Secondary Area category of BirdLife International (undated) and Stattersfield et al. (1998). Secondary area is an area which supports one or more restricted range species, but does not qualify as an Endemic Bird Area because fewer that two species are entirely confined to it.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Almost all the large and small mammals of central India are found in Melghat, from the Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard Panthera pardus, Gaur Bos frontalis, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Chital Axis axis, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Wild Boar Sus scrofa, Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus and Four-horned Antelope Tetracerus quadricornis, Indian Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica, Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus and Bonnet Macaque Macaca radiata.

The Caracal Felis caracal is also reported here, along with many other smaller cats. The faunal diversity includes 30 species of reptiles, 74 of butterflies, 23 of fish, 5 species of amphibians and 26 species of spiders.

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, A3  Critically Endangered 
Forest Owlet Heteroglaux blewitti resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Critically Endangered 
Green Avadavat Amandava formosa resident  2004  present  A1, A3  Vulnerable 

IBA Monitoring

2013 very high favourable medium

Biological resource use gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
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
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Forest   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) 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  Very little or no conservation action taking place  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Gugamal National Park 36,128 protected area contained by site 36,128  
Melghat Sanctuary 77,875 protected area contained by site 77,875  


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

Land use

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

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Kishore Rithe, Deepak Apte, Dilip Yardi, S. Jhunjhunwala, B. Raha and N. B. Bhure.


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

Ishtiaq, F. and A. R. Rahmani (2000) Further information on status and distribution of Forest Owlet (Athene blewitti). Forktail 16: 125-130.

Kasambe, R. M. (2002) Additions to the birds of Melghat Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra. Zoo’s Print Journal 18(3): 1050.

Rithe, K. (2003) Saving the Forest Owlet Sanctuary Asia 23 (1):30-33.

Savarkar, V. B. (1987) Bird Survey of the Melghat Tiger Reserve. Cheetal 29: 4-27.

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: Melghat Tiger Reserve. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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