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Location India, Tamil Nadu
Central coordinates 77o 31.00' East  9o 32.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 251 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Watrap Periakulam and Virakasamuthrakulam are situated 5 km west of the town Watrap in Virudhunagar District. The two wetlands are divided by the Watrap-Pulavakkal dam road. These wetlands receive water from the Pulavakkal dam situated in the Sirivilliputhur Hills of the Western Ghats. Locally they are called ‘system tanks.’ Periakulam has been planted with a large number of Acacia nilotica trees which attract breeding and roosting waterbirds. Areas covered by Scirpus are frequented by rails and grebes. The Virakasamuthrakulam tank is more open, and devoid of Acacia nilotica. According to the villagers, the open water attracts congregations of ducks and pelicans. The wetlands are not rich in aquatic flora, except for Scirpus, Cyperus pygmeus, C. difformis and Cynodon dactylon.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: This site has been selected as an IBA based on the large number of congregatory waterfowl, and especially as a nesting site for a small population of the globally threatened Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis. In February 2003, five pelicans and one nest were recorded by S. Balachandran of BNHS (Manakadan and Kannan 2003) Besides the Spot-billed pelican, species such as Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Little cormorant Phalacrocorax niger, Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis, Little Egret Egretta garzetta and Great Egret Casmerodius albus also nest on the numerous Acacia nilotica trees growing inside Periakulam. Coot Fulica atra is also found breeding in these wetlands. In January 2003, a very large roost of birds was seen. There were more than 3,000 Little Cormorants, over 5,500 Grey-headed Starlings Sturnus malabaricus, nearly 1,000 Common Myna Acridotheres tristis and large numbers of Cattle and Little Egrets on the Acacia nilotica trees. More than 150 Darters Anhinga melanogaster were found roosting and foraging. The number of Darters observed is more than the 1% threshold mentioned by the Wetlands International (2002). The surrounding paddy fields attract a large number of birds, such as Rosy Starling Sturnus roseus, especially during the harvesting period. According to the local farmers, ducks frequent Virakasamuthrakulam in thousands when the tanks are full. Being a drought year, in 2003, the water was too low to attract ducks. It is likely that the two wetlands and their environs would easily support over 20,000 birds in a year of good monsoon.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: As this wetland is surrounded by human habitation, there is little mammal diversity. Black-naped Hare Lepus nigricollis, Jungle Cat Felis chaus, Small Indian Civet Viverricula indica and Golden Jackal Canis aureus are seen, as in most other agricultural areas of India.

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 
Little Cormorant Microcarbo niger 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster resident  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

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 logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale 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


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
Notes: Irrigation and Fishing
water management -
Notes: Irrigation and Fishing

Acknowledgements Key contributors: S. Balachandran and S. S. Ramchandra Raja.


Manakadan, R. and Kannan, V. (2003) A Study of the Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis Gmelin in Southern India with special reference to its conservation: Final Report. Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai. Pp 78.

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: Watrap Periakulam and Virakasamuthrakulam. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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