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Location India, Uttar Pradesh
Central coordinates 78o 10.00' East  27o 49.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 250 ha
Altitude
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society



Site description In Aligarh district, there are a number of wetlands such as Sheikha jheel, Rati-ka-Nagla, Ash Dump Yard and Aama Khera which are good for waterfowl. However, Sheikha jheel has the greatest potential to be developed as a bird sanctuary. This jheel is located 17 km from Aligarh on the Aligarh-Jalali road near Sheikha and Bhawan-Khera. Jalali village is about 3 km away, while Sheikha village is less than 1 km. The jheel was divided into three parts, when the Lower Ganga Canal was constructed. Sheikha jheel is a typical monsoonal wetland of the Gangetic plains. It gets most of its water from rainfall, but seepage of water from the adjoining canal has made it perennial. Before the canal was constructed, this jheel probably dried up during summer like other similar wetlands. Sheikha jheel is surrounded on three sides by natural vegetation. The submerged vegetation consists of Hydrilla verticillata, Ceratophyllum demersum, Vallisneria spiralis, Potamogeton crispus and Najas. Free-floating vegetation consists of Salvinia and Azolla, and in some places, Eichhornia crassipes. Rootedfloating vegetation includes Nymphoides cristata and Nymphoides indica.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: About 166 species of birds are reported from Sheikha and its environs (Rahmani and Sharma, 1997). This wetland harbours more than 10,000 birds during the winter months. While = 20,000 waterbirds may not be found in Sheikha jheel at a time, more than 20,000 water birds use this wetland throughout the year, because large migratory flocks of waders are seen in March-April. Thus, the site would qualify for A4ii criteria. Many waders and ducks are also present in thousands, easily exceeding 1% biogeographic population threshold, recently updated by Wetlands International (2002). About 100-200 Sarus Cranes Grus antigone congregate in this small wetland, mostly in the dry months. According to Wetlands International (2002), 1% threshold of Sarus is 90. Choudhury et al. (1999) have also found Sheikha jheel and the surrounding areas extremely important for the conservation of Sarus crane. During their surveys, they found 30 adults and 10 juveniles. Sighting of Near Threatened Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus, sometimes with juveniles, is not uncommon in Sheikha jheel. Nests of Grey Heron Ardea purpurea, Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger, Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis and other species are found on the large Ficus and Dalbergia trees. A pilot bird ringing project was initiated in 1988 and several birds with Russian rings were recaptured (S.H.A. Yahya pers. comm. 2001).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: As Sheikha jheel is surrounded by agricultural fields and villages, no large wild mammal of conservation concern is found in the area. Only Bluebull or Nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus, which is considered sacred by many people, is found. Occasionally, Blackbuck Antilope cervicapra is seen in the drier area on the other side of Aligarh-Jalali road.

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, A4i  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Habitats

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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Asad R. Rahmani, Salim Javed, S. H. A. Yahya and K. S. Gopi Sundar.

References 

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

Rahmani, A. R. and Sharma, S. N. (1997) Management Plan for Sheekha jheel: Aligarh District. Centre of Wildlife and Ornithology, and Hareetima Environmental Action Group, Aligarh. Pp. 11.

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 (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sheikha Jheel. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/12/2014

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