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Location India, Tamil Nadu
Central coordinates 79o 52.48' East  12o 32.03' North
IBA criteria A1, A4iii
Area 80 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society



Site description The Vedanthangal (50 ha) and Karikili (30 ha) bird sanctuaries are located about 85 km southwest of Chennai, in Chengalpet district of Tamil Nadu. These are old water storage reservoirs for irrigation in the Chengalpet plains. They have also become important as breeding sites for large waterbirds. There are several much larger tanks (e.g. 350 ha Madurantakam Tank) in the surrounding plains, but these are generally less important from the wildlife point of view. Vedanthangal tank receives some water from Madurantakam tank through a link channel, but Karikili is wholly rainfed. Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is one of the oldest bird sanctuaries in south India. Documentary evidence of its existence is available from 1793. In 1798, the Collector of Chengalpet district issued a prohibitory order against shooting of birds in Vedanthangal. In 1858, a sub-magistrate revived the 1798 order as it had not been followed strictly. But only in 1936 did the Collector officially recognised Vedanthangal as a Sanctuary and sanction government funds towards its maintenance (Venkatraman 1996a). Vedanthangal has been visited by many ornithologists since the last 100 years. Hume and Oates (1889-1890), Bates (Bird Life in India 20-47), Whistler and Kinnear (1937) during their Vernay Scientific Survey, Sanjeeva Raj (1956) and Spillet (1966). Vedanthangal has been developed to enhance its value to wildlife; a number of elevated mud islands have been created and planted with trees to provide ideal nesting sites for herons, egrets and other colonial nesting birds. By contrast, Karikili Tank is undeveloped and remains in much the same condition as Vedanthangal was during the 1950s. Karikili is situated about 10 km from Vedanthangal, and is in fact two small tanks with a combined area of about 50 ha. Both tanks fill up during the northeast monsoon in October-November. In immediate vicinity of the tanks there are bare plains, paddy fields and scrub forest. During the monsoon, shallow pools are formed in many places, which provide additional foraging areas for water birds. The area has a tropical monsoon climate, with an average annual rainfall of about 1,000 mm, mostly during October-November (northeast monsoon). There are mainly common herbaceous plants in the marshy areas. In the late 1970s, the islands in Vedanthangal were replanted with Barringtonia acutangula to replenish the dead and dying trees. These trees are preferred for nesting by Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis, Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans and Black-headed or White Ibis Threskiornis melanocephala.

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 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Karikili Sanctuary 61 protected area contained by site 61  
Vedanthangal Sanctuary 30 protected area contained by site 30  

Habitats

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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature conservation and research
water management -
Notes: Water management

Acknowledgements Key contributors: IBA Team.

References 

Hume, A. O. and Oates, E. W. (1889-1890) Nests and eggs of Indian Birds. Second Edition, R. H. Porter, London.

Paulraj, S. and Gunasekaran, G. (1988) The Vedanthangal water-bird Sanctuary: a new breeding ground for pelicans and Painted Storks. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 85: 414-415.

Sanjeeva Raj, P. J. (1956) Occurrence of the Spottedbilled Pelican, Pelecanus philippensis Gmelin, in the Vedanthangal heronry. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 53: 703-704.

Santharam, V. (1999) Records of Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga from Southern India. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 96: 470.

Spillet, J. J. (1966) A report on Wildlife survey in South and West India. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 65(3): 633-663.

Venkatraman, C. (1996a) Studies on the colonial waterbirds and the characteristics of the lake of the Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, Madras, Tamil Nadu. Ph.D. thesis submitted to University of Madras.

Venkatraman, C. (1996b) Human disturbance a major factor for nest destruction. Newsletter for Birdwatchers 36: 33-34.

Venkatraman, C. and Muthukrishnan, S. (1993) Density of water birds at Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu. Pp. 55-60. In: Bird conservation, strategies for the nineties and beyond. Bangalore: Ornithological Society of India. (Eds. Verghese, A., Sridhar, S. and Chakravarthy, A.K.). Bangalore: Ornithological Society of India.

Whistler, H. and Kinnear, N. B. (1937) The Vernay Scientific Survey of the Eastern Ghats (Ornithological Section): J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 39: 447-463.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Vedanthangal and Karikili Bird Sanctuary. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 02/10/2014

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