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Location India, Orissa
Central coordinates 82o 32.55' East  20o 27.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 50,000 ha
Altitude 350 - 1,000m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Sunabeda is situated in the Nuapada district of Orissa, adjoining Chhattisgarh State. The Sanctuary harbours a great diversity of wildlife habitats, with a vast plateau and canyons with 11 waterfalls. There are several riparian forests patches where species such as the Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica and the Flying Squirrel Petaurista sp. could be expected (Kotwal 1997). The Sanctuary forms the catchment area of the Jonk river, over which a dam has been constructed to facilitate irrigation. Thirtyfive families in Maragura village within the Sanctuary need to be rehabilitated (Kotwal 1997). The Indra nullah lies to the south and Son River to the west of the Sanctuary. The important vegetation of the site comprises Dry Deciduous Tropical Forest species such as Tectona grandis, Dalbergia sissoo, Boswellia serrata, Adina cordifolia, Diospyros melanoxylon, Emblica officinalis and Terminalia bellerica, as well as semi-evergreen species around the riverine belt such as Terminalia arjuna and Syzygium cumini.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Around 200 species of birds have been reported from this area (H. K. Bisht in litt. 2002). BirdLife International (undated) has listed 59 species in Biome-11 (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone), of which 18 have been seen till now, but more are likely to occur. Except for the two Gyps vultures, which are now included in the Critically Endangered category by BirdLife International (2001) due to their steep decline during the last 10 years, none of the other species is threatened with extinction. Biome-11 includes a wide range of habitats, including forests and open country. Many of the species listed have adapted to man-modified habitats. Some species have deviated so far from their earlier distribution that they may not be useful in identifying IBAs for the protection of this biome (BirdLife International, undated).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary has certainly seen better days. It had Swamp Deer Cervus duvauceli branderi and Wild Buffalo Bubalus bubalis (= arnee) (Kotwal 1997). Even now, typical central Indian wild mammals such as Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard P. pardus, Gaur Bos frontalis, Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Wild Boar Sus scrofa and Bluebull Boselaphus tragocamelus are found, although depleted by poaching. Among the non-human primates, Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus and Rhesus Monkey Macaca mulatta are very common.

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 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Sunabeda Sanctuary 50,000 is identical to site 50,000  

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

Name Year formed
Wild Orissa (Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary) 0


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature conservation and research
urban/industrial/transport -
Notes: Human settlements

Acknowledgements Key contributors: P. C. Kotwal and Biswajit Mohanty.


BirdLife International (2001)Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book, Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International.

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

Kotwal, P. C. (1997) Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary: A potential haven for the Cheetah. Hornbill 3: 24-27.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 03/05/2015

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