email a friend
printable version
Location India, West Bengal
Central coordinates 87o 48.30' East  25o 5.73' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 2,000 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Farakka Barrage, constructed in 1974-75 over the River Ganga, about 20 km from the border of Bangladesh has created a large reservoir, which stores water for irrigation. The overall span of the barrage is 1,200 m. The proposed IBA site starts from Farakka Barrage up to the Manikchak Ghat of Malda district (West Bengal). The maximum depth of water near the barrage is 25 m. From the onset of winter, the water starts to recede in the river and several chaurs or riverine islets emerge. The birds use these chaurs for day roosting and other diurnal activities. Around mid-February, as the chaurs reach a considerable size, the villagers of nearby villages reclaim them for agricultural purposes. On some chaurs, large reed beds are present that are used by migratory terrestrial birds such as reed warblers for foraging and roosting.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Nearly 70 species of birds have been reported from this IBA (Samiran Jha in litt. 2002).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The area supports a healthy population of the highly endangered Gangetic Dolphin Platanista gangetica (Sinha 2000). Other major species of conservation concern are Gharial Gavialis gangeticus, Marsh Crocodile Crocodylus palustris and Otters Lutra spp.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri winter  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Fulvous Whistling-duck Dendrocygna bicolor 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Indian Vulture Gyps indicus non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis breeding  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2003 very high 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%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: large scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - large dams happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
Notes: Aquaculture

Acknowledgements Key contributor: Samiran Jha.


Jha, S. and Sengupta, S. (1999) Proposed IBA Sites of Malda and Uttar Dinajpur report. Green Peoples India, Malda. Pp. 8.

Sharma, A. (1998) More than 70,000 Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) sighted again on the river Ganges, Malda district, West Bengal. Newsletter for Birdwatchers 38(3): 57.

Sinha, R. K. (2000) Status of the Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica) in the Vicinity of Farakka Barrage, India. Pp. 42-47. In: Biology and Conservation of Freshwater Cetaceans in Asia. (eds) Reeves, R. R., Smith, B. D. and Kasuya, T. IUCN Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K.

Wetlands International (2002) Waterbirds Population Estimates: Third Edition. Wetlands International Global Series No. 12. Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Farakka Barrage and adjoining area. Downloaded from on 04/10/2015

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife