Friday, August 11, 2023

Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary

Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary UPSC

The Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary located in the scenic Aru Valley in Jammu and Kashmir, India. The sanctuary is notable for its contribution to the conservation of the critically endangered Hangul deer.

Its avian diversity, featuring species like the Himalayan Monal, adds to its allure for birdwatchers and ornithologists. The sanctuary's role in preserving high-altitude ecosystems provides a unique opportunity to study adaptations to extreme environments.

Beyond its ecological importance, the sanctuary's name is intertwined with local culture, and its connection to the villages of Overa and Aru underscores the region's commitment to conservation.

Table of Contents

  • Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary Location
  • Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary History
  • Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary Area
  • Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary River
  • Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary Flora
  • Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary Fauna
    • Mammals
    • Birds
    • Reptile
  • Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary UPSC Questions

Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary Location

The Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Aru Valley, near Pahalgam, in the Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is situated approximately 46 kilometers from Anantnag city and about 76 kilometers east of Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir. 

The sanctuary is on the periphery of the two villages of Overa and Aru, from which it derives its name. It is bordered to the north by Sind Valley and to the west by Dachigam National Park.

Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary Nearest Airport:

The nearest airport to the Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary is the Sheikh ul-Alam International Airport, also known as Srinagar Airport. It is located in Srinagar, which is the capital city of Jammu and Kashmir. The sanctuary is approximately 76 kilometers east of Srinagar.

Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary Nearest Railway Station:

Regarding the nearest railway station, the Jammu Tawi Railway Station is one of the major railway stations in the region. However, please note that the distance between the railway station and the Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary is significant, and travel by road would be required to reach the sanctuary.

Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary History

The Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary has a history rooted in wildlife conservation and protection efforts. Here is an overview of the history of the sanctuary:

Game Reserve under Dogra Rule: The sanctuary's history can be traced back to the period of Dogra Rule. In 1945, it was initially declared a game reserve under the administration of the Dogra rulers. At that time, it covered only 32 sq. km. During this time, efforts were made to establish areas where wildlife could be conserved and protected from hunting and other threats.

Upgrading to Wildlife Sanctuary: The conservation status of the area was further elevated when it was officially upgraded to a wildlife sanctuary in 1981 (392 sq km). This designation provided stronger legal protection and management measures for the flora and fauna within its boundaries.

Biosphere Reserve Designation: At a certain point, there was an attempt to designate the Overa-Aru area as a Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme. Although the local government declared the area a Biosphere Reserve, the designation was not officially accepted by the Government of India or UNESCO. Despite this, the sanctuary continued to be recognized and managed as a protected area.

Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary Area

The Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of approximately 511 square kilometers (197 square miles). The sanctuary's expansive area encompasses diverse landscapes, including forests, lakes, glaciers, and mountain peaks.

The sanctuary's size and varied terrain contribute to its ecological significance and provide habitats for various wildlife species. It is an important area for the conservation of flora and fauna, including the endangered Hangul deer (Cervus elaphus hanglu) and other wildlife that inhabit the region.

Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary River

The Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary is a catchment area for the Lidder River, which is a tributary of the Jhelum River. The Lidder River flows through the sanctuary and plays a vital role in the local ecosystem by providing water for irrigation, drinking, and supporting the surrounding vegetation and wildlife.

The sanctuary's location within the Aru Valley near Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir, contributes to the presence of the Lidder River and its associated water bodies. The river and its tributaries are important components of the sanctuary's landscape and contribute to the overall biodiversity and ecological balance of the area.

Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary Flora

The Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary is characterized by diverse flora that thrives in its varied landscapes, altitudes, and climatic conditions. The sanctuary's vegetation includes various forest types, shrubs, and alpine species. 

Here are some of the key flora found in the Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary:

(1) Riverine or Deciduous Forests (Below 2,300 meters ASL):

In this lower region, dominant trees include Aesculus indica (Horse Chestnut), Juglans regia (Walnut), and other riparian associates like Fraxinus spp., Morus alba (Mulberry), Robinia spp., Ulmus spp., Padus cornuta (Himalayan Bird Cherry), Rhus succedanea (Japanese Sumac), and Pyrus lanata (Wild Pear).

(2) Coniferous Forests (2,300 to 3,000 meters ASL):

At slightly higher elevations, you'll find dominant trees like Abies pindrow (Silver Fir) and Pinus griffithii (Blue Pine). Other associates include Betula utilis (Himalayan Birch), Picea smithiana (Morinda Spruce), and Ulmus wallichiana (Himalayan Elm).

(3) Alpine Birch Forest (3,000 to 3,500 meters ASL):

Moving up, the dominant tree is Betula utilis (Himalayan Birch). Rhododendron companulatum and Juniperus spp. are also present, along with various herbaceous species such as Rumex patientia (Patience Dock), Primula spp., Pedicularis spp., Anemone spp., and Corydalis spp.

(4) Alpine Scrub and Rocky Faces (3,500 to 3,800 meters ASL):

At the highest elevations, you'll find Juniperus recurva and Rhododendron anthropogon as dominant shrubs. The herb species Stachys sericea, Sieversia elata, and Veronica melissaefolia also contribute to the vegetation in this area.

Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary Fauna (Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary Animals)

Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for which animal?

The Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a diverse range of fauna, including various species of mammals, birds, and other wildlife that inhabit its different habitats. 

Here's an overview of some of the notable fauna found in the sanctuary:


  • Kashmir Red Deer (Hangul)
  • Kashmir Musk Deer
  • Asiatic Ibex
  • Himalayan Serow
  • Brown Bear 
  • Eurasian Black Bear 
  • Common Leopard 
  • Langurs
  • Rhesus Macaque 
  • Yellow-throated Marten 
  • Red Fox 
  • Jungle Cat 
  • Leopard Cat


  • Himalayan or Impeyan Monal
  • Koklass Pheasant 
  • Egyptian Vulture
  • Kashmir Flycatcher
  • European Roller
  • Tytler’s Leaf-warbler 
  • Tickell’s Leaf Warbler 
  • Orange-barred Leaf Warbler 
  • Yellow-browed Warbler 
  • Pallas’s Leaf Warbler 
  • Largebilled Leaf Warbler 
  • Greenish Leaf Warbler 
  • Large-crowned Leaf Warbler
  • Strong-footed Bush-warbler
  • Simla Black Tit 
  • Rufous-bellied Crested Tit 
  • Crested Black Tit 
  • Kashmir Flycatcher 


  • Snakes
  • Lizards

Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary UPSC Questions

Q. Where is Overa Aru wildlife sanctuary located?/In which district is Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary?

A. The Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Aru Valley, near Pahalgam, in the Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is situated in the northern part of India and falls within the administrative jurisdiction of the Anantnag district. 

Q. When was Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary established?

A. The Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary was initially declared a game reserve in 1945 under the Dogra Rule. Later, it was upgraded to a wildlife sanctuary in 1981. This designation provided stronger legal protection and management measures for the conservation of its flora and fauna.

Q. What are the 4 endangered species found in Overa Aru wildlife sanctuary?

A. Some of the endangered species that have been known to inhabit or frequent the sanctuary include:

  • Hangul Deer (Cervus elaphus hanglu)
  • Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia)
  • Kashmir Stag Beetle (Lucanus kashmirensis)
  • Himalayan Monal (Lophophorus impejanus)

Q. What is the Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary famous for?

A. The Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for several reasons:

(i) Conservation of Hangul Deer: One of the primary reasons for its fame is its role in the conservation of the critically endangered Hangul deer (Cervus elaphus hanglu). The sanctuary's efforts to protect and conserve this unique subspecies of red deer contribute to the global conservation of biodiversity.

(ii) Biodiversity: The sanctuary is known for its rich biodiversity and diverse ecosystems, including riverine forests, coniferous forests, alpine meadows, and high-altitude areas. Its varied habitats support a wide range of plant and animal species.

(iii) Scenic Beauty: The sanctuary is renowned for its stunning landscapes, including alpine lakes like Tarsar Lake and the majestic Kolahoi Peak. The picturesque views, lush forests, and pristine water bodies make it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and trekkers.

(iv) Avian Diversity: The sanctuary is home to a variety of bird species, including the iconic Himalayan Monal and other avian species that attract birdwatchers and ornithologists.

(v) High-Altitude Ecosystems: Due to its elevation range, the sanctuary provides a unique opportunity to study and appreciate high-altitude ecosystems and the adaptations of flora and fauna to these challenging environments.

(vi) Biosphere Reserve Efforts: Although not officially designated as a Biosphere Reserve, the sanctuary's connection to such efforts highlights its significance in terms of ecological conservation and sustainable development.

Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary

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