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Location India, Orissa
Central coordinates 85o 28.80' East  19o 42.60' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 1,553 ha
Altitude 0 - 50m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society



Site description Chilika Lake is an estuarine lagoon, shallow throughout its spread of 1,16,500 ha. It is the largest brackish water wetland in India (Kar and Sahu 1993). The Government of India notified Chilika Lake as a Ramsar site in 1981. The pear-shaped lake is connected to the Bay of Bengal at its northeast end and is subject to minor tidal fluctuations. It receives water from rivers Daya and Bhargavi, and several small streams. It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl in India (Anon. 2000). According to historical evidence, Chilika Lake was part of the Bay of Bengal about 6,000 years ago. Merchant ships used to travel from Chilika to South East Asia (Trisal and Chauhan 1998). Over a period of time, a sand spit barrier formed due to the littoral drift of the sea, as well as silt deposits carried by adjoining rivers into the wetland, separating it from the Bay of Bengal. Several islands are located in the lagoon covering an area of 22,300 ha. The Nalabana Island of the Chilika Lake was declared as a bird sanctuary in 1987. It has an area of 1,553 ha. Nalabana literally means “forest of reeds”. It is covered with aquatic plants, predominant species being Phragmites karka. During monsoon, Nalabana is entirely under water, with only reeds and watchtower visible. With the onset of summer the island gradually emerges. The major flora comprises of aquatic macrophytes such as Potamogeton pectinatus, Najas faveolata, N. graminea, Halophila ovalis, Ruppia maritima, Phragmites karka, Scirpus littoralis, Cyperus sp. and Salicornia brachiata. The algal forms include Chaetomorpha linum, Enteromorpha intestinalis, Oscillatoria laetevineus, Cladophora glomerata, Ulva lactuca; and the less common Gracillaria verrucosa.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Northern Pintail Anas acuta 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri winter  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Lesser Whistling-duck Dendrocygna javanica 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Gadwall Mareca strepera 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Eurasian Wigeon Mareca penelope 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis resident  2004  present  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Pallas's Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaea winter  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa winter  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Brown-headed Gull Larus brunnicephalus 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Chilika Lake Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 116,500 unknown 0  
Chilka (Nalaban) Sanctuary 1,553 is identical to site 1,553  

Habitats

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

Land use

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

Acknowledgements Key contributors: S. Balachandran, Biswajit Mohanty and Ajit Patnaik.

References 

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

Anonymous (2002) Conservation of Chilika - an overview. Chilika Wetland International Newsletter 1:3-5.

Balachandran, S., Rahmani, A. R. and Sathiyaselvam, P. (2002a) Habitat evaluation of Chilika Lake with special reference to birds as Bioindicators. Half yearly Report (December 2001 to June 2002) Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai.

Balachandran, S., Rahmani, A. R. and Sathiyaselvam, P. (2002b). Habitat evaluation of Chilika Lake with special reference to birds as Bioindicators. Half yearly Report (July to December 2002) Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai.

Balachandran, S., Rahmani, A. R. and Sathiyaselvam, P. (2003) Habitat evaluation of Chilika Lake with special reference to birds as Bioindicators. Annual Report, Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai.

Kar, S. K. and Sahu, H. K. (1993) Preliminary study on ecology of aquatic birds in Chilika lake, Orissa. In: Bird Conservation: Strategies for the nineties and beyond. (Eds. Verghese, A., Sridhar, S. and Chakravarthy, V. K.) Ornithological Society of India, Bangalore. Pp. 62-64.

Trisal, C. L. and Chauhan, M. (1998) Chilika Lake: Guidelines for Ecotourism Development. Wetlands International- South Asia, New Delhi, India. Pp 54.

Wetlands International (2002) Waterbirds Population Estimates: Third Edition. Wetlands International Global Series No. 12. Wageningen, The Netherlands.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Nalabana Bird Sanctuary (Chilika Lake). Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/11/2014

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