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Location India, West Bengal
Central coordinates 88o 45.27' East  26o 55.63' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 8,800 ha
Altitude 183 - 3,200m
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society



Site description Neora Valley National Park is one of three protected areas in Darjeeling district, and probably the most undisturbed patch of forest in West Bengal. It is unique and ecologically important as it includes a relatively inaccessible patch of late successional forest with rich diversity and a wide range of environmental gradients. The Neora Valley National Park has four main habitat types: Subtropical Mixed Broadleaf Forest, Lower Temperate Evergreen Forest, Upper Temperate Mixed Broadleaf Forest and Rhododendron Forest (Pradhan in. litt. 2003).

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Neora Valley and Lava are very popular among birdwatchers, so there is a fairly comprehensive birdlist. A total of 258 bird species have been sighted (Nick Dymond in litt. 2002; Anand Prasad in litt. 2003). Prakriti Samsad has recorded 288 species from Lava and Loleygoan Range (Kushal Mokherjee pers. comm. 2004). Seven globally threatened species and two Near Threatened species are found at this site. It is one of the best sites in India to see rarities such as the Rusty-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx hyperythra. This species is also considered as restricted range by Stattersfield et al. (1998) as it is endemic to the Eastern Himalayas and perhaps has a narrow distributional range. However, the discovery of nine singing males in the Lava area in 1996 (Mauro and Vercruysse 2000) was the first record in the Darjeeling area since 1945, and confirmed that fairly dense populations survived in at least this area (BirdLife International 2001). Thanks to its great altitudinal variation from 183 m to 3,200 m, Lava-Neora Valley covers two biomes: Biome-7 (Sino- Himalayan Temperate Forest) from about 1,800 m to 3,600 m, and Biome-8 (Sino Himalayan Subtropical Forest) from about 1,000 m to 2,000 m. BirdLife International (undated) has listed 112 and 95 species respectively in these biomes. Fortythree species of Biome-7 and 24 of Biome-8 have been identified so far. As Neora Valley is regularly visited by birdwatchers, some very interesting records are available from this site. For instance, a spectacular calling flock of almost 600 Hill Myna Gracula religiosa was seen near Loleygaon, and another flock of about 1,000 individuals of Dark-throated Thrushes Turdus ruficollis was seen at Rishyap (Mike Prince in litt. 2002). Suntalekhola, on the fringes of Neora Valley NP, is also a good area for birds. Its altitude varies from 2,000 to 3,200 m, so it has many restricted range species of the Eastern Himalayas Endemic Bird Area. D. Ghosh (in litt. 2002) has sighted 64 species of birds.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: No information.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni passage  2004  present  A1  Least Concern 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Pale-capped Pigeon Columba punicea resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Ward's Trogon Harpactes wardi resident  2004  present  A2, A3  Near Threatened 
Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis resident  2004  present  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Black-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis flavirostris resident  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Beautiful Nuthatch Sitta formosa resident  2004  present  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Rusty-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx hyperythra resident  2004  present  A1, A2, A3  Near Threatened 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Neora Valley National Park 8,800 is identical to site 8,800  

Habitats

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

Land use

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

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Nick Dymond, Anand Prasad and Peter Lobo.

References 

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.

Mauro, I. and Vercruysse, E. (2000) Rusty-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx hyperythra at Lava, Darjeeling, India in April and June 1996. Forktail 16: 176-177.

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 Conservation Series No. 7. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lava - Neora Valley National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/12/2014

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