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Location India, Sikkim
Central coordinates 88o 46.70' East  27o 20.47' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 12,400 ha
Altitude 1,300 - 4,000m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description The Pangolakha Range, extending below the Chola Range, separates Sikkim from Bhutan. Hathichirey (the place where elephants can penetrate) forms the tri-junction between Bhutan, Sikkim and West Bengal where further down the forest continues as the Neora Valley National Park (an IBA in West Bengal). The Sanctuary has typical alpine-temperate-subtropical vegetation with high altitude lakes around Jelep La. Rhododendron, Silver Fir, Juniper forest and associated ground flora, moss-filled oak forests with dense bamboo thickets form ideal habitat for the Red Panda Ailurus fulgens, the State Animal.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: The mountain passes of Natu La and Jelep La (La = Pass) form the routes for migratory waterbirds many of which stop over at the various wetlands in the area, especially Bedang Tso Lake. The Himalayan Monal Lophophorus impejanus (locally called as Feydong) used to be found here (Chezung Lachungpa pers. comm. 1996), hence the name Bedang Tso. Sometimes there is mass migration of birds of prey such as Red Kites Milvus milvus and unidentified eagles (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2003). The Sherathang marshes are one area where the Brahminy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea breeds. Some birds of this complex are Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola and Wood Snipe Gallinago nemoricola, a globally threatened species (BirdLife International 2001) occasionally seen on the banks of the Bedang Tso. Hill Pigeons Columba rupestris are seen on smoking chimneys of local houses in snowy winters. The Snow Pigeon Columba leuconota, Snow Partridge Lerwa lerwa, Himalayan Monal and Gold-naped Black Finch Pyrrhoplectes epauletta are common on the alpine slopes. The Pallas’s Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus was once seen in the forest patch over the Pangolakha range in 1994. Large Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo and Bar-headed Geese Anser indicus were sighted at Bedang Tso in 1992 (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2003). The Tibetan Eared Pheasant Crossoptilon harmani, a Near Threatened species, has been reported from Kupup (near Bedang Tso) below the Jelep La (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2003). This area falls under Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary and is adjacent to the Chumbi Valley of Tibet. This pheasant is one of the two endemic birds in Southern Tibet (EBA-133). It is reported from the edge of mixed Broadleaf Coniferous forest; Rhododendron, Juniper and deciduous scrub and grassland (Stattersfield et al. 1998). Another Near Threatened species found in this IBA is the Giant Babax Babax waddelli. Due to great altitudinal variation from 1300 m to above 4,000 m, three biomes occur in this IBA: Biome-5 Eurasian High Montane (Alpine and Tibetan), from above 3,600 m; Biome-7 Sino- Himalayan Temperate Forest, between 1,800 m and 3,600 m; and, Biome-8 Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest, occurring between c. 1,000 m to 2,000 m (BirdLife International, undated). In Biome-5, 48 species are found, out of which 11 are found at this site. Similarly, 112 species are representative of Biome-7 and in this site are found 14 species (U. Lachungpa pers. comm. 2003). At lower altitude, in Biome-8, only two species out of 95 are reported from this IBA. It is likely that with more detailed surveys, more biome restricted species would be found.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Fauna includes Tiger Panthera tigris, Leopard Panthera pardus,Takin Budorcas taxicolor, Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, Hill Fox V. montana, Goral Nemorhaedus goral, Serow N. sumatraensis, Musk Deer Moschus chrysogaster, Yellow- Throated Marten Martes flavigula, Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus, Red Panda Ailurus fulgens, Mouse-Hare Ochotona roylei and Himalayan Weasel Mustela sibirica. There are chances of occurrence of Himalayan Salamander Tylototriton verrucosus in addition to other herpetofauna. Lower altitude waterbodies are home to several hillstream fish while in the upper reaches, the exotic Brown Trout has been introduced in the alpine lakes.

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 
Tibetan Eared-pheasant Crossoptilon harmani resident  2004  present  A2  Near Threatened 
Pallas's Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Wood Snipe Gallinago nemoricola breeding  2004  present  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Ward's Trogon Harpactes wardi resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Near Threatened 
Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis resident  2004  present  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Grey-crowned Prinia Prinia cinereocapilla resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Broad-billed Warbler Tickellia hodgsoni resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Slender-billed Babbler Turdoides longirostris resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Giant Babax Babax waddelli resident  2004  present  A2  Near Threatened 
Hoary-throated Barwing Actinodura nipalensis resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Black-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis flavirostris resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 

IBA Monitoring

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

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - persecution/control likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance war, civil unrest and military exercises happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
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
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - type unknown/unrecorded happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Pollution garbage & solid waste happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Pangolakha Sanctuary 0 is identical to site 12,400  


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
forestry -
Notes: Forestry
military -
Notes: Military
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature conservation and research
water management -
Notes: Water /Watershed Management

Acknowledgements Key contributor: Usha Lachungpa.


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

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

Ganguli-Lachungpa, U. (1998) On the occurrence of the Tiger Panthera tigris in Sikkim. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 95 (1): 109.

Ganguli-Lachungpa, U. (2000) Takin Budorcas taxicolor at Menla Reserve Forest (3050m), East Sikkim: a westward range extension and observations of unusual behaviour. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 97 (2): 272-274.

Stattersfield, A. J., Crosby, M. J., Long, A. J. and Wege, D. C. (1998) Endemic Bird Areas of the World – Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary - Zuluk - Bedang Tso - Natula Complex. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

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