Narcondam Island

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Narcondam Island
Narcondam I- locale.png
Outline map of the Andaman Islands, with the location of Narcondam Island highlighted (red circle).
Highest point
Elevation 710 m (2,330 ft)
Coordinates Coordinates: 13°26′N 94°17′E / 13.43°N 94.28°E / 13.43; 94.28
Location Andaman Islands, India
Mountain type Stratovolcano
Last eruption Unknown

Narcondam or Narcondum is a small volcanic island located in the Andaman Sea. Its central peak rises some 710 m above mean sea level, and is formed of andesite. It is considered to be part of the Andaman Islands, the main body of which lie approximately 114 km to the west. The island is part of the Indian union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The island is small, covering an area of approximately 6.8 square kilometres.[1] It was classified as a dormant volcano by the Geological Survey of India.


The name Narcondam could have been derived from the Tamil word naraka-kundam,[2] meaning "a pit of Hell," although this may be the result of confusion between it and Barren Island.[3]


Narcondam island south view

The island is formed from a volcano, which had not known to have been active in recent times, until on June 8, 2005 there were reports of "mud and smoke" being ejected from the volcano. The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake is thought to have caused magma to move underground and may be related to the current activity. If the reports were accurate this would alter the scientific status of Narcondam to active. Further to the south west (approximately 150 km) lies the active volcano island of Barren Island. Narcondam Island is about 160 miles from Burma, is about 160 miles from Port Blair, and is almost 800 miles from Vishakhapatnam (part of the mainland of India).

Topography of the island

Narcondam Island holds the easternmost point of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Until 1986 Burma claimed sovereignty over the island. This claim was given up on reaching agreement with India on the delimitation of the maritime boundary between the two nations in the Andaman Sea, the Coco channel and the Bay of Bengal.[4]

Narcondam Mountain[edit]

Narcondam Island's volcanic mountain, at 710 meters is the second tallest point in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the first being Saddle Peak, North Andaman Island at 752 meters.

Scuba diving at Narcondam[edit]

The waters surrounding Narcondam Island are a diving destination. Narcondam's prime dive sites include rocky ridges and steep slopes like Chimneys, Ooh La La and Lighthouse Reef, where massive barrel sponges, huge gorgonian fans and lush soft corals thrive. Fish life can include Napoleon wrasse, bumphead parrotfish and mantas, as well as occasional whitetip and gray reef sharks. Another special place is HQ Pinnacle, where a submerged rock formation acts as a magnet for dogtooth tuna and hundreds of bigeye trevally. For a more tranquil setting, several bays around the island offer gently sloping terrain populated with fields of hard corals and colorful reef fish.

The island is very remote and diving is accessible only via a live-aboard.

Narcondam Island Wildlife Sanctuary[edit]

Narcondam Island Wildlife Sanctuary is notified as a protected reserve by the government of India/ It is also listed on the UNESCO's tentative Lists of World Heritage Sites.[5] The island was notified as a sanctuary to protect the globally Threatened and highly endemic Narcondam Hornbill Aceros narcondami, which is restricted to this tiny island.

The island is of volcanic origin and rises steeply to a central peak of 706 m. It is almost entirely covered with Evergreen and Moist Deciduous forest. Grassy slopes dominate the southern and southeast aspects of the hill (BirdLife International 2001). The island is covered with Tropical Evergreen forest, Semievergreen forest, Moist Deciduous forest, Littoral forest and Mangrove forest (Pande et al. 1991). The island bears old, dead and decaying trees, interlaced with thorny creepers and luxuriantly flowering tall trees (Yahya and Zarri 2002a). The flora on the higher reaches of the hill is mostly evergreen and consists of Dipterocarpus, Sideroxylon and Ficus trees. However, some deciduous species (Bombax insigne) are also present. The vegetation towards the summit is mostly Moist Evergreen with several epiphytes. The lower hills following the shoreline have both deciduous and evergreen trees such as Terminalia catappa, T. bialata and Caryota mitis. The shoreline has some introduced species such as coconut and banana.

Narcondam is a tiny volcanic island, not connected to land mass, terrestrial mammalian fauna is absent. However, Nicobar Flying Fox Pteropus faunulus and Narcondam Small Flying Fox Pteropus hypomelanus are the most common mammals on this island. Among reptiles, Andaman Dwarf Gecko Cnemaspis kandiana, widely distributed in Andaman and Malay Archipelago, is also found on Narcondam Island. The Andaman Day Gecko Phelsuma andamanense, is also restricted in distribution to the Andaman group (Daniel 2002). The Common Amphibious Sea Snake Laticauda laticauda, confined to the Bay of Bengal and Nicobar Island, is seen here, while the Andaman Water Monitor Varanus salvator andamanensis is the only large predator on the island and is a threat to the Narcondam Hornbill, especially its young ones.

As Narcondam Island is remote and difficult to reach, there have been only seven to eight visits by ornithologists to date: Osmaston (1905), Baker (1927), Abdulali (1971,1974), Hussain (1984), Vijayan and Sankaran, (2000) and Yahya and Zarri (2000, 2002a).

Narcondam hornbill[edit]

Narcondam hornbill, which is endemic to this small island

The Narcondam hornbill is an endangered hornbill that is endemic to the island of Narcondam. This bird is said to have evolved separately from the wreathed hornbill found in North-East India. The Narcondam Island Wildlife Sanctuary is currently monitoring the bird.

Proposed radar station[edit]

The Indian Coast Guard proposed the construction of a coastal surveillance radar installation on Narcondum Island and had requested for the release of 0.637 ha of forest area for the purpose. This was turned down by the MOEF of UPA govt as it would endanger the population of endemic hornbills while other alternative sites existed for the siting of the radar.[6] As of 10 June 2014, MOEF has given clearance for the Radar station. Union minister for environment and forests, Prakash Javadekar gave the approval.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yahya, H. S. A.; Zarri, A. A. (2002). "Status, ecology and behaviour of Narcondam Hornbill (Aceros narcondami) in Narcondam Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India". J Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 99 (3): 434–445. 
  2. ^ Washington, H. S. (1924-06-01). "The lavas of Barren Island and Narcondam". American Journal of Science s5–7 (42): 441–456. doi:10.2475/ajs.s5-7.42.441. 
  3. ^ "Narcondum". The National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  4. ^ Charney, Jonathan I. & Alexander, Lewis M.; International maritime boundaries, Volumes 2-3; American Society of International Law, Report 6-3, pg. 1329-1336; Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1998
  5. ^ "Narcondam Island". 
  6. ^ Shrivastava, Kumar Sambhav (6 September 2012). "MoEF says no to radar installation in Narcondam hornbill habitat". Down To Earth. Centre for Science & Environment, India. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "Green nod for radar station at Narcondam in Andamans". The Economic Times. 


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