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Location India, Sikkim
Central coordinates 88o 32.02' East  27o 18.68' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 5,381 ha
Altitude 1,375 - 2,650m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary is located in East Sikkim on a mountain range opposite Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim.The highest point of the Sanctuary is the Tinjurey Peak (2,750 m), which is connected by mountainous ridges to Fambong Lho Peak and Ragorathai Peak. The Sanctuary is girdled with a number of growing villages. The word ‘Fambong Lho’ seems to have come from the Lepcha word Hambomloh for the local avocado trees Machilus edulis and M. odoratissima. The Himalayan Zoological Park above Gangtok is adjacent to the Sanctuary, separated by the Rani Khola (river). Both the Fambong Lho and the Gangtok ranges form part of the catchment of the Rani Khola (Anon. 2002) and are contiguous with the Ratey Chu Reserve Forest. The main vegetation of this IBA includes Oak Quercus lamellosa and ‘Katus’ Castanopsis hystrix. Rhododendron arboreum interspersed with Lyonia ovalifolia are seen gregariously on high hills and saddles. The IBA is also home to a large number of wild orchids, mosses, ferns and Lycopodium spp. (Anon. 2002).

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Over 281 species of birds have been reported from this area, opposite the bustling township of Gangtok (Anon. 2002). Of these, the Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis not seen since the slaughterhouse at Gangtok was shifted to south to Rangpo almost a decade ago. The Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis reported by Ali (1962) from Gangtok has not been sighted lately.The Beautiful Nuthatch Sitta formosa is a globally threatened is still found, while the Rusty-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx hyperythra was remarkably easily netted and ringed both in Fambong Lho and Himalayan Zoological Park in the 2001 BNHS Bird-Banding Programme. The Red-breasted Hill-Partridge Arborophila mandellii was reported by Ali (1962) from Gangtok but not heard or sighted recently unlike the commoner Hill Partridge Arborophila torqueola. The Hoary-throated Barwing Actinodura nipalensis and the White-naped Yuhina Yuhina bakeri are restricted range species reported from this IBA (Anon 2002). In this Eastern Himalayas Endemic Bird Area, four out of 21 restricted range species, at least five out of 48 Biome-5 species, 49 out of 112 Biome-7 species, 38 out of 96 Biome-8 species and three out of 19 Biome-9 species are found (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2003). Other bird species include the biome-restricted Mountain Imperial Pigeon Ducula badia, Slaty-headed Parakeet Psittacula himalayana, Red-winged crested Cuckoo Calamator coromandus, Large Green-billed Malkoha Phaenicophaeus tristis, Blue-naped Pitta Pitta nipalensis, Orange-bellied Chloropsis Chloropsis hardwickii, Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii, and Spotted Forktail Enicurus maculatus. The Nepal House Martin Delichon nipalensis nests under school roofs while the Common Swallow annually returns to nest in four shops in the heart of Gangtok (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2003).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Over 50 species of mammals have been reported from the Sanctuary. Important ones are the Chinese Pangolin Manis pentadactyla, Red Panda Ailurus fulgens Leopard-Cat Prionailurus bengalensis, Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus and Hodgson’s Flying Squirrel Petaurista magnificus (Anon. 2002). Glass Snake/ Lizard Ophiosaurus gracilis has also been seen here (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2002).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Chestnut-breasted Partridge Arborophila mandellii resident  2004  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis resident  2004  present  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Hoary-throated Barwing Actinodura nipalensis resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
White-naped Yuhina Yuhina bakeri resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Beautiful Nuthatch Sitta formosa resident  2004  present  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Rusty-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx hyperythra resident  2004  present  A1, A2, A3  Near Threatened 

IBA Monitoring

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

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming past (and unlikely to return) and no longer limiting some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Fambong Lho Sanctuary 5,176 protected area contained by site 5,176  


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature conservation and research
tourism/recreation -
Notes: Tourism and recreation
water management -
Notes: Watershed management

Acknowledgements Key contributor: Usha Lachungpa.


Anonymous (2002) An Introduction to the Fauna of Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary East Sikkim. Unpublished Report of the Department of Forests, Environment and Wildlife, Government of Sikkim, Sikkim, India.

Ali, S. (1962) Birds of Sikkim. Oxford University Press, Madras.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary - Himalayan Zoological Park - Ratey Chu Reserve Forest. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

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