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Location India, Rajasthan
Central coordinates 74o 46.00' East  26o 18.00' North
IBA criteria A1
Area 17,134 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Sonkhaliya is one of the few sites which provides shelter to the Great Indian Bustard (Rahmani & Manakadan 1983; Rahmani 1987). During the few surveys done in the latter half of 1980s, the population of this bird was estimated to be c. 1,500-2,000 for the whole country, with Rajasthan holding more than half (Rahmani 1986, 1987). Sonkhaliya held a population of more than 80 bustards (Rahmani and Manakadan 1988). It is one of the preferred Bustard areas as it is more or less plain with crop fields and highly degraded scrub forest. The main natural flora of the site consists of species of Prosopis, Acacia, Capparis. Cultivated crops are also present.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: No published checklist of birds is available, but it is assumed that more than 100 species along with many threatened species are present in this IBA site. There has been a drastic decline in the numbers of globally Endangered Great Indian Bustard. In the 1980s, it was not uncommon to see flocks of 10-15 bustards in a day’s visit. The largest flock was of 55 bustards photographed by Kailash Sankhala in early 1980s (R. S. Rathore pers. comm. 2001). During a survey in 1986, 30 bustards were sighted by Rahmani (1986) in January. However, in January 2002, only five were seen after spending almost the whole day in search. The Lesser Florican Sypheotides indica is still found during monsoon in small numbers. It is difficult to estimate total numbers as their population and distribution fluctuates from year to year, depending upon the rainfall pattern. Another globally threatened species occurring at this site is Stoliczka’s Bushchat, also called White-browed Bushchat Saxicola macrorhyncha. It is found in selected dry patches but is not difficult to sight. Among the Near Threatened species, Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala and Oriental White Ibis or Black headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus are found in pools during good monsoon but not in any significant numbers. However, Red-headed or King Vulture Sarcogyps calvus and Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus are regularly seen, the latter only during winter while the former could be breeding in and around Sonkhaliya. There are chances that Houbara or Macqueen’s Bustard Chlamydotis macqueeni could be occurring here during winter because the habitat looks suitable in places, and this species has been found further east, in Sorsan Bustard Area in Baran district. The site lies in Biome-11 (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone), in which BirdLife International (undated) has listed 59 species as biomerestricted assemblages. In this IBA, 24 such species have been identified till now, and more Biome-11 species are likely to occur.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The other fauna which are usually associated with bustard habitats and are present in this IBA include Golden Jackal Canis aureus and Indian Fox Vulpes vulpes. Bluebull Boselaphus tragocamelus have increased intolerably in recent years, resulting in man-animal conflicts.

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 
Lesser Florican Sypheotides indicus resident  2004  present  A1  Endangered 
Sarus Crane Antigone antigone resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
White-browed Bushchat Saxicola macrorhynchus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Asad R. Rahmani and R. S. Rathore.


Bhushan, B. and Rahmani, A. R. (1992) Food and feeding behaviour of the Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 89(1): 27-40.

Rahmani, A. R. (1986) Status of the Great Indian Bustard in Rajasthan. Technical Report No. 11, Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay. Pp 34

Rahmani, A. R. (1987) Protection for the Great Indian Bustard. Oryx 21: 174 - 179.

Rahmani, A. R. (1989) The Great Indian Bustard: Final Report. Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay. Pp 234.

Rahmani, A. R. and Manakadan, R. (1983) Present Status of Great Indian Bustards. Bustard Studies 3: 123-131.

Rahmani, A. R. and Manakadan R. (1988) Bustard Sanctuaries of India: Strategies for their conservation and management. Technical Report No. 13, Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay. Pp. 27.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sonkhaliya Closed Area. Downloaded from on 25/04/2015

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