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Location India, Uttar Pradesh
Central coordinates 80o 40.00' East  26o 35.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4iii
Area 225 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description The Nawabganj Priyadarshini Bird Sanctuary is located on the Kanpur-Lucknow highway, 45 km east of Lucknow, near the village Nawabganj in Hasanganj tehsil of Unnao district. The sanctuary has an interesting history. Till 1974, it was an open, shallow wetland, which attracted thousands of waterfowl and many hunters and trappers. These waterfowl used to be supplied to the bird markets of Lucknow, Kanpur, Nawabganj, Unnao and other nearby towns. In 1972, the Indian government enacted the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which totally prohibited shooting and trapping of wildfowl. In 1974, the Forest Department declared Nawabganj as a sanctuary and took over the land. To make it “more attractive to birds”, they planted thousands of trees and built mounds as in the Keoladeo National Park at Bharatpur (Rajasthan). For the first few years, the wildfowl population increased dramatically, and storks, cormorants, egrets, and darters started breeding on the trees growing on mounds. This further encouraged the Forest Department to go on a plantation binge. A 5 km road was constructed circling the Sanctuary, motels and hotels came up and tourism was encouraged. Livestock grazing was totally stopped to prevent “trampling of nests”.There were plans to maintain the water level throughout the year. Large-scale plantation and the ban on grazing resulted in accumulation of biomass, which decreased the depth of the wetland. Slowly this open sheet of water became choked with vegetation. Gone were the skeins of Barheaded Geese Anser indicus and Greylag Geese A. anser and huge flocks of Northern Pintail Anas acuta, Garganey A. querquedula, Northern Shoveller A. clypeata, and Gadwall A. strepera. The wetland that was maintained by grazing and occasional drying is now a small puddle, totally choked with Water Hyacinth and other vegetation. The Forest Department regularly attempts to clear the vegetation, but unless the earlier water regime is restored, it will be difficult to bring back the glory of this important waterfowl refuge, a victim of poor management. The jheel is fed by monsoon run-off and has an average depth of 1.0-1.5 m at maximum water levels. The water level fluctuates considerably, and much of the lake dries out by early summer.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: This lake is important for resident and migratory waterfowl. More than 200 species have been identified (Rahmani, 1992). Large waterbirds started nesting here in 1980 and there is now a mixed heronry of Darter Anhinga melanogaster, Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax, many species of egrets and cormorants, and Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia.Other resident species include Purple Moorhen or Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio, Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus and Bronze-winged Jacana Metopidius indicus. The lake is important for Anatidae and Coot Fulica atra. Nawabganj also has a number of raptors such as Pallas’s Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus, Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, and Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus. The Sanctuary was known for its great congregations of water birds during the winter months. With good management, the bird number could be restored, therefore it has been designated as an IBA. Two to three pairs of Sarus Grus antigone breed in the Sanctuary. During Sarus count in 1999 (Choudhury et al. 1999), a pair with a juvenile was seen inside the Sanctuary, and two pairs and one juvenile were seen in the surrounding fields. A pair of Blacknecked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus is also seen, sometimes with juveniles, but its nest has not been discovered. Other Near Threatened species are listed in the table.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: With protection and afforestation, Jungle Cat Felis chaus and Golden Jackal Canis aureus have appeared, along with the Bluebul Boselaphus tragocamelus. Spotted Deer Axis axis has been introduced to enhance the tourism value of the Sanctuary.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Sarus Crane Antigone antigone resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

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

Biological resource use gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) 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 - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - herbicides and pesticides happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - soil erosion, sedimentation happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Pollution industrial & military effluents - type unknown/unrecorded happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Nawabganj Sanctuary 225 is identical to site 225  


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research -
Notes: Nature conservation and research
tourism/recreation -
Notes: Tourism and recreation

Acknowledgements Key contributor: Asad R. Rahmani.


Choudhury, B. C., Kaur, J. and Gopi Sunder, K. S. (1999) Sarus Crane Count-1999. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. Pp 23.

Rahmani, A. R. (1992) Wetlands of Uttar Pradesh - Part III. Newsletter for Birdwatchers, 32(1): 3-5.

Samant, J. S. (2000) Prioritisation of Biological Conservation Sites of Indian Wetlands. In: Setting Biodiversity conservation priorities for India, (eds. S. Singh, A. R. K. Sashtri, R. Mehta and V. Uppal). WWF-India, Pp. 155-167.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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