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Location India, Tamil Nadu
Central coordinates 79o 32.50' East  11o 15.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 3,885 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Veeranam lake is situated in Cuddalore district, about 25 km west of Chidambaram town. It is one of the biggest and oldest lakes in Tamil Nadu. The Chola King Paranthaga constructed this lake in the 9th century AD. The book Ponniyen Selvan authored by Kalki in 1950 gives information on this lake, stating that it was constructed over 1,000 years ago by Prince Rajathithar, son of Paranthaga Cholan. The lake was originally called Veeranarayanan lake. The lake is about 16 km long and 8 km broad with a waterspread of about 15 sq. km. There are 34 sluices around the lake through which about 40,000 acres of two talukas, namely Chidambaram and Kattumanarkoil receive irrigation. The lake is fed by Vadavar river and Sengal stream. Under the current New Veeranam Project, parts of the lake were desilted recently. Veeranam Lake has a rich aquatic plant diversity with submerged, floating and emergent species. In several parts of the lake, mats of reeds and Ipomoea carnea occur. The trees found in the surrounding areas, islets and on the bunds are Acacia nilotica, Prosopis chilensis, Thespesia populnea, Pithecelobium dulce, Borassus flabellifer, Ficus benghalensis, F. religiosa and Azadirachta indica.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Veeranam lake is an important area for migrant and resident birds. The lake qualifies A4iii criteria as it holds, on a regular basis, more than 20,000 waterbirds. According to Thiyagesan (pers. comm. 2001), about 20,000 Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans visit this area, and V. Santharam (pers. comm. 2003) has counted about 10,000 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa. According to Wetlands International (2002), the total breeding population of the Asian Openbill in South Asia is 1,25,000 and the 1% population threshold is 1,250. Similarly, the total biogeographic population in South Asia of Black-tailed Godwit is 1,00,000 (Wetlands International 2002). With the sighting of 10,000 in Veeranam, it means that 10% of the population uses this IBA. Therefore, this site also qualifies A4i criteria. The Asian Openbill regularly forages in the lake and nests in the adjacent village Tiruchinapuram. According to the locals, Spotbilled Pelicans Pelecanus philippensis also visit the lake in small numbers especially during summer when the water level is reduced. Altogether, 54 species have been recorded, of which 81% are waterbirds (Anand et al. 1997, Meganathan 2002).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: As the lake is surrounded by agricultural fields and human habitations, there are no large wild mammals of any conservation concern. The lake is rich source of many commercial fish such as Anabas testudines, Channa punctatus, Mastacembelus armatus and Mystus tenegra, (Anand 1999, Bharathi 2002).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis resident  2004  present  A1  Near Threatened 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa winter  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2003 medium 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
Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or 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 small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant 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 - unspecified species happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of surface water (domestic use) likely in long term (beyond 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - herbicides and pesticides happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - soil erosion, sedimentation happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture
fisheries/aquaculture -
Notes: Fishing
forestry -
Notes: Fuel wood collection
other -
Notes: Medicinal plant collection
rangeland/pastureland -
Notes: Grazing land
water management -
Notes: Domestic uses; Water management

Acknowledgements Key contributor: V. Kannan.


Anand, S., Pandiyan, J. and Sethuraman, M. (1997) Studies on the Avifauna of the Veeranam Lake. B.Sc. Dissertation, A.V.C. College, Mannampandal, Mayiladuthurai.

Anand, S. (1999) Effects of desilting of the Veeranam lake on its wildlife and fisheries resources and socio-economic consequences. M.Sc. Dissertation, A.V.C. College, (Autonomous), Mannampandal, Mayiladuthurai.

Bharathi, K. (2002) An assessment of the impacts of new Veeranam project on the hydrological features, avian diversity, and fisheries resources of the Veeranam Lake, Chidambaram taluk, Tamil Nadu, South India. M.Sc. Dissertation, A.V.C. College (Autonomous) Mannampandal, Mayiladuthurai.

Meganathan, T. (2002) A survey of avain diversity in selected Inland Lakes of Cuddalore, Thiruvarur, Nagai, and Thanjavur districts of Tamil Nadu, Southern India and an assessment of threats to their conservation including socio-economic factors in the surrounding villages. M.Sc Dissertation, A.V.C. College (Autonomous), Mannampandal, Mayiladuthurai.

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 (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Veeranam Lake. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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