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Location India, Orissa
Central coordinates 84o 56.85' East  20o 33.12' North
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 79,552 ha
Altitude 63 - 926m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary lies on either side of the River Mahanadi, in the districts of Dhenkanal, Cuttack, Puri and Phulbani. The name Satkosia refers to the 14 mile long, deep gorge formed on the Mahanadi (saat = seven, kos = 2 miles). The area can be broadly classified under woodland ecosystem, except for the freshwater aquatic ecosystem in the gorge. The Sanctuary extends over 79,525 ha, including a 32 km stretch of river bed (Choudhury, undated). The area was declared a sanctuary mainly to protect the Gharial Gavialis gangeticus and Mugger Crocodile Crocodylus palustris. This is one of the few riverine sanctuaries in India. There is a proposal to declare Satkosia Gorge WLS as a Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger. The woodland ecosystem can be classified as Northern Tropical Moist Deciduous Forest and Northern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest. Sal Shorea robusta is the dominant tree in the former type. The canopy is irregular, with trees of unequal ages. Owing to the remote and difficult terrain, not much deforestation has occurred. The dry deciduous forest is bare and leafless in summer. The main species are Anogeissus latifolia, Terminalia tomentosa, Adina cordifolia and Albizzia lebbeck.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Besides the two critically endangered Gyps vultures, which are widespread in any case, this site harbours two globally threatened species: Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis and Bristled Grass- Warbler or Grassbird Chaetornis striatus. The Indian Skimmer breeds on the islands in the Mahanadi river (B. C. Choudhury pers. comm. 2003). This site is designated as an IBA based on the presence of these two globally threatened species and also as the breeding site of the Indian Skimmer. The bird life is fairly typical of eastern India. Of the 59 species listed in Biome-11 by BirdLife International (undated), 32 are found at this site. Four species of Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forest) are also reported i.e. Malabar Trogon Harpactes fasciatus, Malabar Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros coronatus, Indian Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus horsfieldii and Small Green-billed or Blue-faced Malkoha Phaenicophaeus viridirostris. These are at the northeastern extreme of their range. Ripley (1978) in his paper on the bird fauna of the Simlipal forest area in Mayurbhanj and Dhenkanal districts mentions Tytler’s Warbler Phylloscopus tytleri “in forest near the Mahanadi River in Dhenkanal District”. This interesting record extends the winter range considerably east from the River Tapti in Madhya Pradesh. It seems to have been missed by Ali and Ripley (1987) and Grimmett et al. (1998).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Most of the representative large vertebrates of tropical dry deciduous forests of the Indian plains are found in Satkosia WLS, such as Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard Panthera pardus, Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus, Wild Dog Cuon alpinus, Gaur Bos frontalis, Chital Axis axis, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Bluebull Boselaphus tragocamelus, Four-horned Antelope Tetracerus quadricornis, and Wild Boar Sus scrofa, as well as the Asian Elephant Elephas maximus.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis non-breeding  2004  present  A1, A3  Critically Endangered 
Indian Vulture Gyps indicus non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Bristled Grassbird Chaetornis striata resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 

IBA Monitoring

2003 very high not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: large scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Satkosia-Gorge Sanctuary 74,552 is identical to site 74,552  

Local conservation groups The local conservation groups below are working to support conservation at this IBA.

Name Year formed
Wild Orissa (Satkosia Gorge Wildlife Sanctuary) 1997
Nature Environment and Wildlife Society (Satkosia WLS) 0


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

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: Bivash Pandav, B. C. Choudhury, Biswajit Mohanty and Monalisa Bhujabal.


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

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

Choudhury, L. N. (undated) Management Plan of Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary (Orissa): 1978-79 to 1982-83. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun.

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

Ripley, S. D. (1978) Changes in the bird fauna of a forest area, Simlipal Hills, Mayurbhanj District, and Dhenkal District, Orissa. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 75: 570-574.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Satkosia Gorge Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

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