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Location India, Uttaranchal
Central coordinates 79o 19.13' East  30o 42.77' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 98,524 ha
Altitude 1,400 - 7,068m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary lies in Chamoli district of the Garhwal Himalaya. The Sanctuary was created in 1972, and takes its name from the famous Hindu shrine at Kedarnath. It is situated about 300 km northeast of Delhi, covers an area of 97,500 ha, and is one of the largest protected areas in the Indian Himalayas. The entire Sanctuary lies in the southern catchment area of the Alaknanda river, which is one of three major tributaries of the Ganga. The high rainfall in the area has led to lush broadleaf dominated forests in the temperate and subalpine zones. The Sanctuary also has some eastern Himalayan elements. The highly threatened Musk Deer Moschus chrysogarter, is still found in the Sanctuary in good numbers. Mountain peaks border the Sanctuary at over 6,000 m above msl in the north, and in the by south the Mandal-Okhimath road to the south. Altitude ranges from 1,400 m (near Phata) to 7,068 m (Chaukhamba peak). Trishula Reserve Forest adjoins the Sanctuary on the Gopeshwar- Mandal side, and is a well-preserved Temperate Deciduous forest. The subtropical zone is represented mainly by Chir pine Pinus roxburghii, up to 2,000 m. Euphorbia royleana occasionally occurs on the dry, southern aspects up to 1,500 m. Within the temperate zone, Ban oak Quercus incana (1,500-2,100 m), Moru oak Q. dilatata (2,130-2,750 m) and Karsu oak Q. semecarpifolia (2,500- 3,300 m) forest occur. The flowering plants of Tungnath and Kedarnath are listed by Semwal and Gaur (1981) and Rau (1961).

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Green (1986) reported 132 bird species from Kedarnath WLS. Later, Sathyakumar (1994) added 78 more species to the list, and another 30 species were added by Rashid H. Raza (1996-2000), Ramana Athreya, Vidya Athreya, Dhananjay Mohan and Sanjay Sondhi (Unpublished checklist in Management plan) bringing it to 240 species. Cheer pheasant Catreus wallichii, a globally threatened species (BirdLife International 2001), is found in this IBA. The site falls in the Western Himalayas Endemic Bird Area (Stattersfield et al. 1998). Owing to its great altitudinal variation from about 1,000 m to more than 7,000 m, three biomes (Sino- Himalayan Subtropical Forest, Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest and Eurasian High Montane (Alpine and Tibetan), described by BirdLife International (undated), are found in this IBA.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Over 30 mammalian species, excluding bats, have been recorded (Green 1985, Sathyakumar 1994). Most noteworthy is the record of a Snow Leopard Uncia uncia in March 1979 (Green 1982).

The ungulates of conservation concern are Himalayan Musk Deer Moschus chrysogarter, Indian Muntjak or Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Goral Nemorhaedus goral, Serow Nemorhaedus sumatraensis, Himalayan Tahr Hemitragus jemlahicus and Blue Sheep Pseudois nayaur.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Cheer Pheasant Catreus wallichii resident  2004  present  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
White-throated Tit Aegithalos niveogularis resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

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

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - nomadic grazing happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
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%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kedarnath Sanctuary 97,524 protected area contained by site 97,524  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   -
Grassland   -

Land use

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

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Rashid H. Raza, Dhananjai Mohan and S. Sathyakumar.


BirdLife International (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: The BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

BirdLife International (undated) Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Asia: Project Briefing Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K., unpublished.

Green, M. J. B. (1982) Status, distribution and conservation of the snow leopard in North India. International Pedigree Book of Snow Leopards 3: 6-10.

Green, M. J. B. (1985) Aspects of the ecology of the Himalayan musk deer. Ph. D. thesis, University of Cambridge. 280 pp.

Green, M. J. B. (1986) The birds of the Kedarnath Sanctuary, Chamoli District, Uttar Pradesh: status and distribution. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc 83: 603-617.

Rodger, W. A. and Panwar, H. S. (1988) Planning a Protected Area Network in India. 2 Vol. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun.

Rau, M. A. (1961) Flowering plants and ferns of North Garhwal, Uttar Pradesh, India. Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 3: 215-251.

Sathyakumar, S. (1994) Ecology of Himalayan ungulates. Ph. D. thesis, Saurashtra University, Rajkot.

Semwal, J. K. and Gaur, R. D. (1981) Alpine flora of Tungnath in Garhwal Himalaya. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 78: 498-512.

Stattersfield, A. J., Crosby, M. J., Long, A. J. and Wege, D. C. (1998) Endemic Bird Areas of the World: Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation. BirdLife International Series No. 7. BirdLife International, U.K.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary and surrounding Reserve Forests. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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