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Location India, Rajasthan
Central coordinates 72o 24.00' East  27o 7.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 2,200 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Khichan, 150 km north of Jodhpur in the northern part of the Thar Desert, Rajasthan, is a small village off the main tourist track. The village has recently been recognized as a tourist spot by the Rajasthan Tourist Development Corporation, mainly due to the presence of large wintering flocks of Demoiselle Cranes Grus virgo. Khichan is located in a sandy desert area, so it has the typical xerophytic vegetation of the Thar. Among the tree species, Prosopis cineraria and Salvadora sp. are the commonest plants.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Every year towards the end of August and in early September, just after the monsoon ceases, Demoiselle Cranes fly in from their breeding grounds on the steppes of Eurasia and Mongolia. The village is transformed overnight into a noisy crowded place, as krok-krok calls fill the air. The cranes have been attracted because for the last 150 years, villagers traditionally have fed them in a feeding house locally known as Chugga ghar. The number is about 4,000 (Rahmani 1997) but villagers claim that sometimes up to 10,000 are seen. The West Central Asia breeding population, which comes to the Indian subcontinent (especially western India) is estimated to be 100,000 birds, (Wetlands International 2002). Khichan has been selected as an IBA because it holds more than around 4% of the wintering population. Besides the Demoiselle cranes, Khichan holds most of the desert fauna and flora. The Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps is sometimes seen in the vicinity, especially during summer when it comes to drink water from the two lakes, which also attract assorted numbers of ducks and waders, but not in any significant number. The Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata, a coastal wetlands bird (Grimmett et al. 1998) has been sighted here. Among the globally threatened species, Oriental White-backed Gyps bengalensis and Long-billed Gyps indicus vultures are still seen, albeit in very small numbers. Stoliczka’s Bushchat Saxicola macrorhyncha may be present in the surrounding scrub areas.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The common mammals found in Khichan are the Red Fox Vulpes vulpes bengalensis and Chinkara Gazella bennettii, Bluebull Boselaphus tragocamelus is spreading due to availability of water from the Indira Gandhi Canal Project.

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  Critically Endangered 
Indian Vulture Gyps indicus non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps resident  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
White-browed Bushchat Saxicola macrorhynchus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 

IBA Monitoring

2014 low favourable low
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

No known threats no known threats happening now whole area/population (>90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Artificial - terrestrial   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  No management planning has taken place  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  low 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - aquatic   -
Desert   -
Artificial - terrestrial   -
Shrubland   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
tourism/recreation -
Notes: Tourism and recreation
urban/industrial/transport -
Notes: Human settlement

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Asad R. Rahmani, Manoj Kulshreshtha, Krishna Kumar Vyas and Satyanarain Rajpurohit.


Grimmett, R., Inskipp, C. and Inskipp, T. (1998) Birds of the Indian subcontinent. Christopher Helm (Publishers) Ltd;, London, U.K.

Rahmani, A. R. (1997) The effect of Indira Gandhi Nahar Project on the avifauna of the Thar desert. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 94(2): 233- 266.

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

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Khichan. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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