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Location India, Tamil Nadu
Central coordinates 76o 28.60' East  11o 30.75' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 603 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society



Site description Thaishola lies at the southwestern end of the Nilgiri Hills (Zarri et al. 2002). Taia Shola (= mother forest in Tamil) as the name suggests is a large, dense, undisturbed natural forest. A considerable area of the forest was reclaimed for tea plantation in the past, but now the remaining area is well protected. The forest, being undisturbed, harbours a host of resident and migratory bird species. There have been few botanical explorations in this area, while research on the bird community was almost nonexistent until the recent initiative by the BNHS. The major vegetation type at this site is Shola (Southern Montane Wet Temperate Forest) as classified by Champion and Seth (1968). Rhododendron nilagiricum, Rubus spp., Strobilanthes spp., Rhodomyrtes tomentosa, Solanum spp. are among the species commonly seen at the forest edges. These forests also harbour in their dense undergrowth a variety of ground as well as epiphytic orchids. The forest at this IBA is generally tall, up to 20 m. There is no grassland in the vicinity, but a few patches of plantation can be seen at the fringes. Thick shola stretches over the top of the hill, and is surrounded by the tea plantations of the Thaishola Tea Estate.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Thaishola is an important area for conservation of threatened birds in the Upper Nilgiris. Several species, including the Malabar Trogon Harpactes fasciatus, Grey-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus priocephalus and Yellow-browed Bulbul Iole indica have been recorded from this IBA. Threatened species such as the Nilgiri Laughingthrush Garrulax cachinnans, the Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon Columba elphinstonii and the White-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx major are frequently sighted in this pristine shola habitat (Zarri et al. 2002). This site is also home to several resident and migrant raptor species, including the White-eyed Buzzard Butastur teesa, the Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, the Common Buzzard Buteo buteo, the Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela and the Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis. The site lies in the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area (EBA) where Stattersfield et al. (1998) have listed 16 restricted range species. Seven of them are found in Thaishola. All the five restricted range species associated with Wet Temperate and Subtropical Broadleaf Hill Forest (Stattersfield et al. 1998) are found. This site is located in Biome-10 (Indian Peninsula Tropical Moist Forests). Fifteen species represent this biome. Five have been recorded in this site. The site is an important wintering area for many birds that are listed in other biomes such as the Tickell’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus affinis, Large-billed Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus magnirostris and Indian Blue Robin Luscinia brunnea. This site qualifies three IBA criteria: A1 because it has globally threatened species; A2 because it has seven restricted range species confined to the Western Ghats EBA; and, A3 because it has many biome-restricted species.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Thaishola harbours almost all the mammals species expected in a Montane Evergreen shola habitat. Troops of Nilgiri Langur Trachypithecus johni are seen or heard throughout the forest. Tiger Panthera tigris, and Leopard P. pardus are uncommonly sighted and their major prey Sambar Cervus unicolor and Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak are very common. The Asian Elephants Elephas maximus frequent this site during their seasonal migration through the Nilgiris. Golden Jackal Canis aureus and packs of Wild Dog Cuon alpinus are also commonly reported. Besides, the Forest provides home to a number of small carnivores such as the Small Indian Civet Viverricula indica, Brown Palm Civet Paradoxurus jerdoni, Common mongoose Herpestes edwardsi, and lesser cats.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Nilgiri Woodpigeon Columba elphinstonii resident  2004  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
Black-chinned Laughingthrush Strophocincla cachinnans resident  2004  present  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
Nilgiri Blue Robin Myiomela major resident  2004  present  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
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 

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   -
Shrubland   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
forestry -
Notes: Forest

Acknowledgements Key contributor: Ashfaq Ahmed Zarri.

References 

Champion, H. G. and Seth, S. K. (1968) A revised survey of forest types of India, Govt. of India Press, Delhi 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 Series No. 7. BirdLife International, 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.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Thaishola. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/12/2014

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