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Location India, Tamil Nadu
Central coordinates 78o 29.00' East  9o 19.80' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 152 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Chitrangudi (48 ha) and Kanjirankulam (104 ha) Bird Sanctuaries are situated in the Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu, in the villages of the same names. The Sanctuaries are c. 5 km from Mudukulathur and c. 25 km from Paramakudi, in a drought prone area. The floral diversity is very poor and the area seems to be scrub jungle type. The area has been planted with Prosopis chilensis and Acacia nilotica in the villages and around the tanks; the two species were introduced and planted by the Forest Department on a massive scale to sustain firewood collection. Tamarind Tamarindus indicus is the only common tree, seen sporadically on the roads and the tank bunds. Due to the nature of the soil and scanty rainfall, the natural vegetation is sparse.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: The site qualifies as an IBA as the threatened Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis breeds here. A maximum of 100 birds reportedly breed, i.e 2.5% of the species biogeographic population at the 1% level of 40 birds (Wetlands International 2002). Chitrangudi and Kanjirankulam Bird Sanctuary are two of the oldest known pelicanries in the state. Since time immemorial, the locals have protected both the pelicanries. In January 1988, in Chitrangudi Sanctuary, 934 Pelicans and 100 nests were found (BirdLife International 2001). Johnson et al. (1993) have seen 700 pelicans in January 1989, and 286 in 1991 in the same tank. Besides the Spot-billed Pelican, the Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans, Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Large Egret Casmerodius albus, Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, and Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii are known to breed in both villages. In Kanjirankulam, Abraham (1973) found Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala breeding on the same trees as pelicans nests were found. During his visit, the nesting colony was on 60 trees, mainly Ficus religiosa, Thespesia populnea and Acacia arabica. He also found nesting colonies of Oriental White Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus and Black Ibis Pseudibis papillosa, about 1.6 km away from Kanjirankulam.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Due to the presence of scrub jungle and surrounding agricultural fields, the vegetation cover does not permit the presence of large or medium sized mammals.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis resident  2004  present  A1, A4i  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 - small-holder 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 some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Climate change and severe weather drought happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Chitrangudi Sanctuary 48 protected area contained by site 48  
Kanjirankulam Sanctuary 104 protected area contained by site 104  


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture
rangeland/pastureland -
Notes: Grazing
water management -
Notes: Water management

Acknowledgements Key contributor: V. Kannan.


Abraham, S. (1973) The Kanjirankulam breeding bird sanctuasry in the Ramnad District of Tamil Nadu. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 70: 549-552.

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

Johnson, J. M., Perennou, C. and A. Crivelli (1993) Towards the extinction of the Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis), 92-94. In: Wetland and Waterfowl Conservation in south and west Asia (Eds. M. Moser and J. Van Versem). IWRB Spec. Publ. No. 25: AWB Publ. No. 85.

Wetland International (2002) Waterbird Population Estimates: Third Edition. Wetlands International Global Series No. 12. Wageningen, the Netherlands.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Chitragudi and Kanjirankulam Bird Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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