|Location||India, Tamil Nadu|
|Central coordinates||76o 35.50' East 11o 17.93' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2, A3|
|Year of IBA assessment||2004|
Site description Avalanche, a part of the Nilgiri Hills, lies in the extreme northwest of Tamil Nadu, on the interstate boundaries with Karnataka and Kerala. Avalanche Reserve Forest encompasses an area of 7,846 ha. The terrain is undulating with a few remnant patches of grassland and sholas, the latter confined to the folds of hills and depressions. There are numerous streams draining into the reservoirs of the Canada and Emerald Dams that have submerged a considerable area. The climate is generally cool throughout the year, with frost formation mainly during November and December. This site forms one of the key areas for the conservation of many endemics and threatened bird species of the Western Ghats, such as the Rufous-breasted or Nilgiri Laughingthrush Garrulax cachinnans. Increasing anthropogenic pressure from the nearby settlements is a cause of concern for this IBA. The vegetation cover mainly constitutes monoculture plantations of exotics Wattle Acacia mearnsii, Blue Gum Eucalyptus globulus and Pine Pinus patula. The vegetation can be classified into three major types namely, Southern Montane Wet Temperate Forest (Shola), grasslands and exotic plantations. Details of the flora are included in the authoritative works of Gamble (1915-25) and Fyson (1915-20). Southern Montane Wet Forests classified by Champion and Seth (1968), generally found above 1,800 m, are common in Avalanche and consist of medium sized evergreen trees upto 20 m. Such forest patches usually occur as a rule at the heads of streams in the folds of converging slopes and include species of both tropical and temperate regions. Several genera of distinctly Himalayan origin, such as Rhododendron, Hypericum, Rubus, Lonicera, Gaultheria and Pittosporum are common. Over the past hundred years, sholas have been converted to monoculture plantations or tea estates and this continued up to the late 1970s. Now, fortunately this has been stopped and the remnant sholas have been protected. Grasslands in Avalanche Reserve Forest were the worst affected by plantations, as a result of which hardly any undisturbed grassland remains. Fragments of grassland are seen between the mosaic of plantations and shola patches. During monsoon, the natural grasslands harbour many species of Balsam and Orchids, some rare and endemic. Systematic plantation of exotic species began in 1953, coverning about 70% of this IBA; largely Wattle, Eucalyptus, Pine and Tea were planted. Plantation is proportionally the largest vegetation type in Avalanche. Thickets of Wattle and stands of Pine are seen everywhere. Tea plantations are mainly found in the area from Murlimunth towards Emerald village.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Nilgiri Woodpigeon Columba elphinstonii||resident||2004||present||-||A1, A2, A3||Vulnerable|
|Grey-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus priocephalus||-||2004||present||-||A2, A3||Near Threatened|
|Black-chinned Laughingthrush Strophocincla cachinnans||resident||2004||present||-||A1, A2, A3||Endangered|
|Nilgiri Blue Robin Myiomela major||resident||2004||present||-||A1, A2, A3||Endangered|
|Kashmir Flycatcher Ficedula subrubra||winter||2004||present||-||A1, A2||Vulnerable|
|Black-and-rufous Flycatcher Ficedula nigrorufa||resident||2004||present||-||A2, A3||Near Threatened|
|Nilgiri Flycatcher Eumyias albicaudatus||resident||2004||present||-||A2, A3||Near Threatened|
|Crimson-backed Sunbird Nectarinia minima||-||2004||present||-||A2, A3||Least Concern|
|Nilgiri Pipit Anthus nilghiriensis||resident||2004||present||-||A2, A3||Vulnerable|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Artificial - aquatic||-|
|Artificial - terrestrial||-|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|Notes: Forestry; Plantation|
Acknowledgements Key contributor: Ashfaq Ahmed Zarri.
Champion, H. G. and Seth, S. K. (1968) A revised survey of forest types of India. Govt. of India Press, Delhi.
Fyson, R. F. (1915-20) The flora of the Nilgiris and Pulney Hill-tops. Vol. 1. Superintendent, Government Press, Madras.
Gamble, J. S. (1915-25) Flora of the Presidency of Madras. Botanical Survey of India Calcutta.
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 Conservation Series No. 7. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.
Zarri, A. A., Rahmani, A. R., and Senthilmurugan, S. (2002) Ecology of Shola and Alpine Grasslands. Annual Report 2. Part 1. Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai.
Zarri, A. A. and Rahmani, A. R. (in press) Wintering records, ecology and behaviour of Kashmir flycatcher (Ficedula subrubra Hartert & Steinbacher). J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Avalanche (Nilgiri). Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/08/2014
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