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Location India, Tamil Nadu
Central coordinates 78o 0.57' East  9o 33.50' North
IBA criteria A1
Area 1,362 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description The Kullur Sandai Reservoir is located in Aruppukottai Taluka of Virudunagar district, about 8 km along the Palavanatham road. It is about 80 km southwest of Madurai. The climate of this region is semiarid tropical monsoon type, with high temperature and low humidity. It receives scanty rainfall, with an annual average of just 800 mm. The reservoir receives most of the rainfall during the northeast monsoon from October to December. It also receives inflows from the Khowsika river, which originates in the Western Ghats. The Vallikulam stream also flows into the Reservoir during the monsoon. Kullur Sandai Reservoir has a waterspread of 1,361 ha. The Public Works and the Fisheries Departments protect the dam and undertake measures for storing water and also for fish culture. Apart from the Kullur Sandai Reservoir, there are other irrigation reservoirs in the area (Anaikootam, Vembakottai and Golwarpatti). Pelicans and other birds move between these various waterbodies according to the availability of water. The dam and its environs are rich in aquatic vegetation, with tall and medium Borassus flabellifer trees along the banks. The fringes have been invaded by Ipomoea carnea. The reservoir is fortunately free of water hyacinth.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Kullur Sandai Reservoir qualifies IBA criteria A1, as it holds a significant number of globally threatened Spot-billed Pelicans Pelecanus philippensis. During the Asian Waterfowl Census in January 1987, at least 32 Spot-billed Pelicans were recorded (Johnson et al. 1993). In recent years, the number of Pelicans appears to have increased, as 1,670 were recorded during the pelican survey in September 2002 (Manakadan and Kannan 2003). The 1% biogeographic population threshold of this species is 40 (Wetlands International 2002). This IBA also harbours several other species during winter, such as the Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis, Common Coot Fulica atra, Northern Shoveller Anas clypeata, Gadwall Anas strepera, Spot-billed Duck Anas poecilorhyncha, Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger, Indian Shag Phalacrocorax fuscicollis, Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala, Little Egret Egretta garzetta, and Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber. The total population of waterbirds sometimes exceeds 10,000.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The Fisheries Department has almost eliminated the native fish community by the introduction of commercial species of carps such as Catla catla, Labeo rohita, Cerrhina mrigala, Channa spp.

as well as catfish. The water of the dam is rich in phytoplankton, zooplankton, and submerged vegetation. Because of the rich growth of plankton and heavy stock of fish, pelicans and other waterfowl congregate. This brings them in direct conflict with the Fisheries Department.

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  Near Threatened 

IBA Monitoring

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

Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: large scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - persecution/control likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities 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 some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - run-off happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution industrial & military effluents - type unknown/unrecorded happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture
fisheries/aquaculture -
Notes: Pisciculture
rangeland/pastureland -
Notes: Grazing
water management -
Notes: Domestic use; Irrigation; Water management

Acknowledgements Key contributor: V. Kannan.


Johnson, J. M., Perennou, C. and Crivelli, A. (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.

Manakadan, R. and Kannan, V. (2003) A study of Spot-billed Pelicans Pelecanus philippensis with special reference to its conservation. Final Report, Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai.

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

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Kullur Sandai Reservoir. Downloaded from on 29/11/2015

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