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Location India, Sikkim
Central coordinates 88o 19.80' East  27o 9.27' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 2,000 ha
Altitude 400 - 1,000m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Much of the South District of Sikkim is populated with townships, villages and agriculture holdings. The lowland forests of Sikkim lie at the southern end of the South District, bound to the south by the Great Rangit river, extending roughly from the foothills of the outer Himalayas to an altitude of about 1,000 m. This IBA includes the river valleys of Ramam, Rangit, Great Rangit and Tista and adjoins the Maenam-Tendong (an IBA) to its north. Various species of orchids, Rhapidophora, wild banana, screwpines, nettles and giant bamboo are characteristic of this site. The Rangit Valley Sal Shorea robusta shows a unique association with the Chir Pine Pinus roxburghii (Bejoy Gurung pers. comm. 2003). In patches of protected forest, it is possible to see Sal being slowly dominated by Pine. Such patches are relatively poor in bird life (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2003).

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Despite being the lowest altitude IBA in Sikkim, this site has records of birds restricted to biomes 9, 8, 7 as well as 5, perhaps due to seasonal altitudinal migration as well as the telescoping effect of the Sikkim Himalaya, where in a distance of c. 100 km, habitats ranging from lowland subtropical forests to high cold desert can be seen (Ali 1962). Hence, as many as 14 globally threatened and restricted range species and at least four Biome-5 species, 15 Biome-7 species, 33 Biome-8 species and seven Biome-9 species have been recorded from this IBA. The lowland forests of Sikkim are home to several species identified as Near Threatened by BirdLife International (2001): Great Pied Hornbill Buceros bicornis now restricted to few sightings over tea estates, Red-breasted Partridge Arborophila mandelli (not recorded recently) and Ward’s Trogon Harpactes wardi. The Nepal Wren-Babbler Pnoepyga immaculata could also occur here. During a survey conducted here in 1996, no potential habitat was found for the Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis. Biome-5 species like Ibisbill Ibidorhyncha struthersii are regularly recorded in winter on the banks of the Great Rangit river; Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria recorded from Trans-Himalayan Lhonak Valley (at Green Lake) and other high altitude sites is also recorded from this IBA. The Collared Falconet Microhierax caerulescens was found breeding in 1996 very close to human habitation, hawking dragonflies around the Fisheries Department pond at Baguwa but cleverly avoiding the mist-nets set around it. Ward’s Trogon was sighted at Baguwa and Jorethang in October 1996 (Ganguli-Lachungpa 1996). All these records make this IBA a very interesting bird watching and conservation area.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The lowland fauna includes Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis, Himalayan Crestless Porcupine Hystrix brachyura, Assamese Macaque Macaca assamensis, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Tree Shrew Tupaia belangeri, squirrels, fruit bats, a host of butterflies and other invertebrates, riverine fish (over 40 species), Indian Rock Python Python molurus, geckos, freshwater frogs and toads.

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  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 
Ward's Trogon Harpactes wardi resident  2004  present  A2  Near Threatened 
Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis resident  2004  present  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Grey-crowned Prinia Prinia cinereocapilla resident  2004  present  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Yellow-vented Warbler Phylloscopus cantator 2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Blackish-breasted Babbler Sphenocichla humei resident  2004  present  A2  Near Threatened 
Rufous-throated Wren-babbler Spelaeornis caudatus resident  2004  present  A2  Near Threatened 
Slender-billed Babbler Turdoides longirostris resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
White-naped Yuhina Yuhina bakeri 2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Black-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis flavirostris resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Beautiful Nuthatch Sitta formosa resident  2004  present  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Rusty-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx hyperythra resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Near Threatened 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   -
Shrubland   -
Grassland   -
Wetlands (inland)   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture
forestry -
Notes: Forestry
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature conservation and research
urban/industrial/transport -
Notes: Urban / Industrial / Transport
water management -
Notes: Watershed management

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Usha Lachungpa and Sandeep Tambe.


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

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

Ganguli-Lachungpa, U. (1996) Baseline Bird Survey in Proposed Kitam Wildlife Sanctuary and other low-land forests of South Sikkim. Report submitted to Oriental Bird Club (Unpublished).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lowland forests of South Sikkim (Melli-Baguwa-Kitam, Jorethang-Namchi, Sombarey). Downloaded from on 27/04/2015

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife