Birding Hotspots of
Western Arunachal Pradesh
Links to the principal localities
An introduction to Arunachal Pradesh
India map with location of Arunachal Pradesh
LocalitiesPakke Tiger Reserve floodplains, lowland evergreen and riverine forests. (alt. 100-300m)
Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary tropical, subtropical, and temperate forests (alt. 500-3500m)
Dirang-Tawang black-necked cranes; temperate forests and alpine meadows (alt. 1500-4500m)
East Himalayan state of Arunachal Pradesh, rising from 100m to 6000m
altitude across a distance of just 100-150 km, hosts one of the
finest wildlife assemblages that Asia has to offer . Many areas of
Arunachal are justly famed for their biodiversity – Namdapha, Mehao,
Dibang Valley to name a few – but none can match Western Arunachal in
the ease with which a tourist or a scientist can observe wildlife
across 4500m of altitude.
lush lowland evergreen forests of Pakke Tiger Reserve (alt.
100-300m), adjacent to the grasslands and riverine woodland of the
Brahmaputra valley, through the sub-tropical and temperate forests of
Eaglenest (alt. 500-3500m), to the breathtaking views of permanent snow
above the alpine meadows of Sela ridge at 4500m – nowhere else in this
state can one stroll or motor along roads covering the entire
this access the area is practically unknown to visitors - less than a
dozen birders have visited Eaglenest in the last decade. Ditto with
Pakke and other areas. Only last year a new
macaque - the first in 100 years - was described from Tawang. In
just a few short visits over the course of a year our Eaglenest Biodiversity Project has
yielded many range extensions of birds and snakes which are stubbornly
resisting efforts at identifying them; perhaps new species as well.
After working hard to keep away tourists during the last few decades,
the state government has woken up to the prospects of tourism and is
actively wooing tourists, both foreign and Indian - offering them a
chance to savour the most spectacular wildlife experience that India has
much sought after birds like ward’s
trogon, wedge-billed and rufous-throated wren-babblers, rufous-necked, great and wreathed hornbills, black-necked crane (winter), beautiful nuthatch, emerald cuckoo (summer) are
standard fare in this area. Other mouth-watering specialities which can
be seen with some perseverance and knowledge are 3 tragopans, blood pheasant, monal, ibisbill, purple cochoa, long-tailed and collared broadbills, blue-naped pitta, vivid niltava, long-billed plover and black-headed shrike-babbler, to name
just a few - in fact more than half the species on the 450+ birdlist would
qualify as specialities on any birder's list!
fauna that we have recorded during our project there in 2004 as well as
during past visits include many mammals
(including a red panda and black bear), 20+ species of snakes,
150+ species of butterflies – there is something for all
visitors no matter their special focus. Sport fishing and white-water
rafting are also making an appearance in the area.
No visit to Arunachal Pradesh would be
complete without a trip to Kaziranga, the last stronghold of the Indian
Rhinoceros. On the way into Arunachal Pradesh a short detour of 75 km
serves up prospects of highly endangered mammals like the rhino, swamp
deer, wild buffalo, and even a tiger and, for a birdwatcher, 500+
species of birds! This latter group includes the bengal florican,
black-breasted parrotbill, slender-billed babbler, finn's baya and both
adjutant storks, among a host of others.
A well-prepared, mobile team of birders spending 2 weeks in Western Arunachal and another 3-4 days at nearby Kaziranga can easily go back with 400+ bird species on their list, and many special birds at that, apart from spectacular scenery, wonderful mammals and other wildlife. There is wildlife to be seen all through the year.
time for birds is from December to March. May is a good time in Arunachal
mountains for seeing elusive birds by tracking their song - such as
purple cochoa, rufous-bellied shortwing and blue-fronted robin - as well
as summer visitors like ruddy kingfisher, crow-billed drongo, emerald
cuckoo, etc. Kaziranga itself would have lost its migrant winter
population then. If two visits are possible the best combination is late
December-Jan and May.
interested in herpetofauna and invertebrates, especially
butterflies, should brave the monsoon between May and October. It
is tough when it rains but the periods of sunshine in-between bring out
these animals in large numbers.
Map of India showing the location of Arunachal Pradesh
(click here for map details)
13 March 2005
Kaati Trust, Pune