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Location India, Tamil Nadu
Central coordinates 77o 43.80' East  8o 28.20' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 129 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description The Koonthangulam Bird Sanctuary is located in Naguneri Taluka of Tirunelveli district between Moolakaraipatti and Kariandi. It is about 20 km from Tirunelveli town. It is a rain and river-fed freshwater tank, and receives water from the Manimuthar river. The globally threatened Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis breeds here, along with other birds. It is one of the oldest known pelicanries in India, having existed for 200 years or more. Rhenius first reported this pelicanry in 1906 (Rhenius 1907). The villagers believe that the birds that come to Koonthangulam are harbingers of good luck and their yearly arrival ensures good rainfall. They also benefit from the rich guano deposited in the breeding colonies. This is used to fertilize the fields. Guano-rich tank water is used for irrigation. Koonthangulam (also transcribed as Koondakulam) has a large tank within the village precints, and several smaller tanks scattered in the vicinity. These waterbodies and the fields are the main foraging grounds for birds. Koonthangulam is basically an agricultural area, so there is no forest as such. Acacia nilotica has been planted in about 35.5 ha. This is where most of the birds nest.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis resident  2004  present  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kuthankulam Sanctuary 129 is identical to site 129  


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
water management -
Notes: Irrigation; Water management

Acknowledgements Key contributors: V. Kannan, Robert Grubh and Asad R. Rahmani.


Anonymous (1993) Directory of Indian Wetlands, 1993. WWF India, New Delhi and Asian Wetland Bureau, Kuala Lumpur.

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

Kumar, S. V. (1993) Koondakulam. Sanctuary 14(8): 40-41, 70-73.

Nagulu, V. and Rao, J. V. R. (1983) Survey of south Indian pelicanries. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 80(1): 141-143.

Rhenius, C. E. (1907) Pelicans breeding in India. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 17: 806-807.

Thomas, J., De Britto, A. J., Johnson, J. A. and Sridhar, S. (2000) A preliminary study on the biodiversity of Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. Indian Journal of Environmental Sciences 4(2): 135-142.

Webb-Peploe, C. G. (1945) Notes on a few birds from south of the Tinnevelly district. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 45: 425-426.

Wilkinson, M. E. (1961) Pelicanry at Kundakulam, Tirunelveli district. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 58: 514-515.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kunthangulam Bird Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 23/09/2014

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