On this page, you can read all important exam relevant facts related to Biosphere Reserves, National Parks, Wetlands, and Wildlife Sanctuaries in News, for UPSC Prelims.
List of Contents
- Biosphere Reserves in India
- National Parks
- Wildlife Sanctuary
- Pong Dam Wetland
- Maguri Motapung Beel Wetland
- Harike Wetland
- Deepor Beel Wetland
- Tso Kar Wetland
- Lonar lake Wetland
- Sur Sarovar Lake Wetland
- Sambhar Lake
- Kabartal Wetland
- Khijadia Bird Sanctuary in Gujarat and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary
- Haiderpur Wetland
- Basai Wetland
- Conservation Reserve
Suggested Read – Current Affairs compilations for Prelims 2022
Biosphere Reserves in India
Similipal Biosphere Reserve
About Similipal Biosphere Reserve: It was formally designated a tiger reserve under Project Tiger in May 1973. It was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1979 with an area of 2750 sq. Km.
Origin of Name: The park derives its name from ‘Simul’, which are red silk cotton trees growing in the area.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve: The park was declared a biosphere reserve by the Government of India in 1994. It is a part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2009.
Location: Simlipal biosphere reserve located in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. It is the 7th largest national park in India and Asia’s second-largest Biosphere Reserve. It lies in the eastern end of the Eastern Ghat.
Part of: Similipal is part of the Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve. Other Protected Areas Include:
- Similipal Tiger Reserve,
- Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary
- Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary
Flora: The park has a high biodiversity with about 94 species of orchids and 3,000 species of plants. Among them, Sal is a dominant tree species in the park.
Fauna: The park is home to the Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, gaur, and chausingha. It also has a sizeable population of reptiles, which includes the longest venomous snake, the King cobra, and the Tricarinate hill turtle.
Rivers: At least 12 rivers cut across the plain area, all of which drain into the Bay of Bengal. The prominent among them are Burhabalanga, Palpala Bandan, Salandi, Kahairi and Deo. It is also home to some beautiful waterfalls like Joranda and Barehipani Falls.
Tribes: The two tribes namely Erenga Kharias and the Mankirdias inhabit the reserve’s forests. Other dominant tribes include the Ho, Gonda, and Munda among others.
Forest Fires in the Simlipal National Park: The forest fires seemed to be both due to natural causes and human-made causes.
- Natural causes: lighting or even soaring temperatures can sometimes result in these fires. Moreover, the forests of Similipal are of a dry deciduous type and the fallen leaves become highly inflammable if there is no precipitation.
- Poaching and hunting: the poachers set a small patch of forest on fire to divert the wild animals. It can lead to forest fires.
- Sometimes, Forest areas are set on fire by the villagers to clear the dry leaves on the ground for easy collection of mahua flowers. These flowers are used to prepare a drink that is addictive in nature.
Nilgiris Elephant Corridor and Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
About Nilgiris elephant corridor: It is situated in the ecologically fragile Sigur plateau. The plateau connects the Western and the Eastern Ghats. Apart from that, the plateau also sustains elephant populations and their genetic diversity.
Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve: The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected forest area in India.
Location: The Biosphere Reserve spread across three states. Namely, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala.
Flora: It hosts forest systems, ranging from seasonal rain forests in the low hills, tropical montane Shola forests and grasslands in the higher reaches, and moist deciduous to scrub through dry-deciduous towards the plains in the Eastern end.
Endemic Flora: Vanda, Liparis, Bulbophyllum, Spiranthes, Thrixspermum
Fauna: Important faunal elements include Tiger, Elephant, Gaur, Lion tail macaque, Cheethal, Sambar, Wild Boar, Barking deer, Nilgiri Tahr, etc.
Hills and Wildlife Sanctuaries:
- The reserve includes the Aralam, Mudumalai, Mukurthi, Nagarhole, Bandipur, and Silent Valley national parks. Similarly, the reserve also includes the Wayanad, Karimpuzha, and Sathyamangam wildlife sanctuaries.
- It has the Nilgiri Hills on its southwestern side and the Moyar River Valley on its north-eastern side. The elephants cross the plateau in search of food and water.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Nilgiri Sub-Cluster is a part of the Western Ghats which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012.
Significance: About 80% of flowering plants reported from the Western Ghats occur in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
Panna Biosphere Reserve
UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program has included the Panna Biosphere Reserve to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
Location: Madhya Pradesh
About Panna Biosphere Reserve: The Panna Biosphere Reserve in India encompasses Panna National Park, three sections of the Gangau Sanctuary.
Forest and vegetation: The major vegetation of the park is miscellaneous dry deciduous forest mixed with grassland area. The site is characterized by forests, seasonal as well as aquatic, and marshy vegetation.
Rivers: Ken River flows through this reserve and creates beautiful waterfalls on its way to the valley.
Flora: Characterized by forests and marshy vegetation. It has an abundance of rare medicinal plants as well as other non-timber forestry products such as Kattha, gum, and resins.
- Endangered animals like Tiger, Leopard and Chinkara.
- It is also home to the Siyah Gosh (Felis caracal) and Jungle cat (Felis chaus).
- Other exotic animals like Chital, Nilgai, Sloth Bear, Sambhar.
- More than 200 species of birds including the King vulture, Indian Vulture, and bar-headed goose.
Significance: Panna National Park was declared as the 22nd Tiger Reserve of India and the 5th in Madhya Pradesh in the year of 1994. It is a critical tiger habitat area and hosts the Panna Tiger Reserve, as well as the World Heritage site of the Khajuraho Group of Monuments.
Read More – Other Biosphere Reserves
Manas National Park
About Manas national park: It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a Tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve. It is also called Kamrup Sanctuary,
Location: It is located in the Himalayan foothills in Assam. It is contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.
Origin of Name: The name of the park is originated from the Manas River.
Flora: The combination of Sub-Himalayan Bhabar Terai and the Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests makes Manas National Park one of the richest biodiversity in India. There are around 543 plant species recorded in the core of the national park.
Vegetation: There are four types of vegetation in Manas National Park namely, Sub-Himalayan Light Alluvial Semi-Evergreen forests (northern parts); East Himalayan mixed Moist and Dry Deciduous forests; Low Alluvial Savanna Woodland, and Assam Valley Semi-Evergreen Alluvial Grasslands.
Fauna: The Park is known for its rare and endangered endemic wildlife such as the Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur, and pygmy hog. It is also famous for its population of wild water buffalo.
River: The Manas river flows through the west of the park. Manas is a major tributary of Brahmaputra River. The river is named after the serpent goddess Manasa.
Village: Pagrang is the only forest village located in the core of the Manas national park. Apart from this village 56 more villages surround the park. Many more fringe villages are directly or indirectly dependent on the park.
- Cultural services include all non-material benefits obtained from ecosystems. Manas and Royal Manas National Parks attract several thousands of tourists, both Indian and foreign. In addition, the Bodo community living in the area and their livelihoods, culture, and food all depend on forests to a great extent.
- Manas and other protected areas also provide regulating services. These are benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystem processes. Manas natural habitats play a significant role in climate and disease control, water regulation, as well as pollination.
- It helps regulate floods as the water rushes down from the Himalayas. The vast green grassland in Manas is one of the most productive ecosystems and acts as a carbon sink, sequestrating huge amounts of carbon each year.
- Supporting services are necessary for the production of all other ecosystem services. The entire range of ecosystems in Manas helps in soil formation and nutrition supplements. Manas is home to thousands of species and is a haven for securing the Himalayas’ genetic diversity.
Kaziranga National Park
News: A study conducted by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, and some universities have found Kaziranga National park to be a net carbon emitter.
How Kaziranga National Park became a net carbon emitter?
The biggest factor that makes Kaziranga national park a net emitter is its unique soil. The soil is home to a large population of bacteria that release carbon dioxide as they breathe, which adds to the carbon dioxide being emanated by other organisms, including trees.
The photosynthetic activity of trees during the monsoon decreases due to increased cloud cover. Hence, the ability of the forest to absorb carbon dioxide also decreases. The situation remains the same during the post-monsoon and winter months, making the forest a net carbon emitter.
About the Kaziranga National Park: The Park has recorded a 175% increase in the number of waterfowl and winter migratory birds.
Location: It is located in the State of Assam. It is the single largest undisturbed and representative area in the Brahmaputra Valley floodplain.
UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Park was declared a National Park in 1974. In 1985, the park was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Further, it was also declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006.
Important Bird Area: It is also recognized as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for the conservation of avifaunal species.
Vegetation: Due to the difference in altitude between the eastern and western areas of the park, here one can see mainly four types of vegetation’. Like alluvial inundated grasslands, alluvial savanna woodlands, tropical moist mixed deciduous forests, and tropical semi-evergreen forests. Kumbhi,
Flora: Indian gooseberry, cotton tree, and elephant Apple are among the famous trees that can be seen in the park. Also, a good variety of aquatic flora can be seen in lakes, ponds, and along the river shores.
Fauna: Along with the iconic Greater one-horned rhinoceros, the park is the breeding ground of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer. Over time, the tiger population has also increased in Kaziranga, and that’s the reason why Kaziranga was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006.
- It is the house of the world’s largest population of Great One-horned Rhinoceros (IUCN Status- Vulnerable).
- The title Kaziranga adopts its name from Karbi, which is the name of a woman who ruled here in ancient times.
- It is the only ancient park in Assam which wraps a vast region of numerous flora and fauna.
Area Under Wetland: The area under wetlands in Kaziranga has reduced from 8.5% of the total area to 6.7% over a period of 30 years till 1977.
Threat: However, efforts to check siltation, erosion, and fragmentation of the beels (wetlands) and removal of invasive species have breathed fresh life into the park’s ecosystem.
Nandankanan Zoological Park
About Nandankanan Zoological Park (NZP): Unlike other zoos in the country, Nandankanan is built right inside the forest and set in a completely natural environment.
Source: Wildlife Institute of India
Location: It is located in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
Flora: A diverse variety of plants, orchids, creepers, cacti, palms, and 750 species of plants are seen here.
Fauna: Nandankanan has been internationally acclaimed for its highest collection of white tigers in the world. Besides, gharials and white tigers, leopards, pangolin, mouse deer, lions, ratel and vultures are also bred here. It is recognized as a leading zoo for the breeding of the Indian pangolin and white tiger.
- It is the first zoo in the World to breed White tiger and Melanistic tiger and it is the only conservation breeding center of Indian Pangolins in the world.
- First captive breeding center for endangered Gharials in the year 1980.
- Kanjia Lake – A wetland of National importance (2006).
- It is the only zoological park in India to become an institutional member of World Association of Zoos and Aquarium (WAZA).
- It is the only zoo in India after which an express train Puri-New Delhi express has been named as “Nandankanan Express”.
- It is the first zoo in India where endangered Ratel was born in captivity.
Read More – Other National Parks of India
Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary
About Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary: It is a wildlife sanctuary located in the Kalahandi district in Odisha. The sanctuary is famous for the lush green dry deciduous forest.
Flora: The sanctuary consists of flora like Sal, Bija, Asan, Harida, Amala, Bahada, Bamboo and varieties of medicinal plants.
Fauna: The sanctuary is home to a plethora of wildlife animals such as leopard, gaur, sambar, nilgai, barking deer, elephants, mouse deer, soft claws ottawa, and a wide variety of birds.
Waterfalls: It is famous for the Phurlijharan waterfall. There are other several small and big waterfalls inside the sanctuary like Ghusrigudi, Dumnijhola, Kamalajharan, Koyirupa, Kuang, and Raja Rani.
Nagi- Nakti Bird Sanctuaries
News: ‘Kalrav’, Bihar’s 1st state-level festival started at the Nagi-Nakti bird sanctuaries in the Jamui district, Bihar.
About Nagi Dam and Nakti Dam: They are although two different sanctuaries but they can be taken as one bird area due to their closeness. These notified sanctuaries are surrounded by rocky hillocks, formed by the damming of streams. Both these water bodies are quite deep, with a clear water surface.
Important Bird Area: Birdlife International has declared it as an important bird area due to a rare phenomenon. I.e., the appearance of Around 1,600 bar-headed geese at this sanctuary which is about 3% of the global population of this variety.
Location: It is located in the Jamui district, Bihar.
Fauna: These sanctuaries are home to a wide variety of indigenous species and migratory birds that turn up during the winters from places like Eurasia, Central Asia, the Arctic Circle, Russia, and Northern China.
Significance: The sanctuary is unique for its rock formation, “tor” in the Jamui area. In India, this rock formation is available only in Hampi in Karnataka.
Dehing Patkai wildlife sanctuary
About Dehing Patkai wildlife sanctuary: The sanctuary is also known as the Jeypore Rainforest. It is a part of the Dehing Patkai Elephant Reserve. Dehing is the name of the river that flows through this forest and Patkai is the hill at the foot of which the sanctuary lies.
Location: It is located in the districts of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia in Assam.
Flora: It is a deciduous rainforest interspersed with semi-evergreen and lush green flora. It is the only patch of virgin rainforest in Assam.
Fauna: It includes Chinese pangolin, Flying fox, Rhesus macaque, Assamese macaque, Himalayan black bear, Lesser Adjutant Stork, White and Slender-billed Vulture, Leopard, Golden Cat, Jungle Cat, and Marbled Cat.
Significances: Post-up-gradation, Dehing Patkai will be the sixth national park in Assam — the other five being Kaziranga, Nameri, Manas, Orang, and Dibru-Saikhowa.
Pong Dam Wetland
About Pong Dam wetland: It is also known as Pong Dam Reservoir or Pong Dam Lake. It is located in Himachal Pradesh. The dam was created on Beas Riverin District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, for hydel and irrigation purposes.
Location: It is located 65-km from Dharamsala, Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh. Dhauladhar mountains form the backdrop of this reservoir.
Ramsar Site: The dam was created in 1975 and was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1983. The lake was declared a Ramsar Site in 2002.
Flora: The sanctuary area is covered with tropical and subtropical forests. It shelters a great number of Indian Wildlife animals.
Fauna: The sanctuary is a host to around 220 species of birds, along with 54 species of Water Fowl. Migratory birds from all over Hindukush Himalayas and also as far as Siberia come here during winter. The flagship species of the lake are Bar Headed Geese. Other species having a high population at the sanctuary include Eurasian Coot, Northern Pintail, Common Teal, Great Cormorant, GreyLag Goose, etc.
Rivers: The lake is fed by the Beas River. Its numerous perennial tributaries are Gaj, Neogal, Binwa, Uhl, Bangana, and Baner.
- The size of Pong Dam Lake and its situation in theextreme northwest of the northern plains make it a suitable habitat for migratory birds entering the plains of India from Central Asia.
- It is also known as the Pong reservoir or Pong Dam. This dam was built in 1975 named in honor of Maharana Pratap
- Pong reservoir and also Gobind sagar Reservoir are the most important fish reservoir in the foothills of the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh.
Concerns: The total population of birds as well as the number of species counted this year is marginally less as compared to last year, probably due to the impact of avian influenza.
Maguri Motapung Beel Wetland
About Maguri Motapung Beel: It is a wetland and lake located near to Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in Assam.
Location: Maguri Motapung Beel is less than 10 km south of the more famous Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and is a part of the Dibru-Saikhowa Biosphere Reserve.
Rivers: The Dibru river flows from east to west through the wetland. To the North-west of the wetland, a river once called Dangori used to flow. But now this river has been captured by the bigger river Lohit.
Origin of the name: The wetland derives its name from ‘Magur’, a local word for the catfish Clarius batrachus, once found here in abundance. The second half of the name comes from a village nearby, and Beel is the Assamese word for the wetland.
Fauna: Declared an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) in 1996, the wetland has over 110 bird species. 8 of which are listed as threatened by the IUCN. These include the Falcated Duck, Ferruginous duck, and Swamp Prinia.
Important Bird Area: It was declared as an Important Bird Area by the Bombay Natural History Society.
- The wetland is very important. It is home to at least 304 bird species, including a number of endemic ones like the Black-breasted parrotbill and Marsh babbler.
- Maguri Motapung beel is also home to 84 species of fish, including the golden mahseer.
Threats: It forms near the confluence of the three rivers that form the Brahmaputra. Maguri Motapung Beel in Assam is under threat from overfishing, silt and floods from the mountains, and oil exploration.
Concerns: In 2020, a blowout and fire at an Oil India Limited-owned gas well affected this wetland adversely. The resulting oil spill killed a number of fish, snakes as well as an endangered Gangetic dolphin.
About Harike Wetland: It is one of the largest man-made wetlands in northern India. It spreads in the Tarntaran, Ferozpur, and Kapurthala districts of Punjab.
Location: It came into existence in 1952 after the construction of a barrage near the confluence of rivers Sutlej and Beas. It is located in Punjab. The grand Indira Gandhi Canal in Rajasthan is fed from this wetland.
Fauna: The wetland is home to endangered Fauna like the Indus river dolphin, smooth-coated otter, and seven species of rare freshwater turtles.
Ramsar Convention: The wetland was accorded the wetland status in 1990 by the Ramsar Convention.
- The wetland is an important area for migratory birds. Every winter, the birds migrate to India through the central Asian flyway which covers a large continental area of Europe-Asia between the Arctic and Indian Oceans.
- Birds such as the Eurasian coot, Greylag goose, Bar-headed goose, Gadwall, and the northern shoveler are the prominent ones that could be sighted at Harike Wetland.
Concerns: Over the years, the number of certain species visiting the wetland are falling. The key reasons attributed to the drop are increased human interference in their breeding regions, oil exploration, use of pesticides in farms, climate change, and rising air and water pollution.
Deepor Beel Wetland
About Deepor Beel: It is a permanent freshwater lake. The beel drains into the Brahmaputra river 5 km to the north, through the Khonajan channel.
Location: It is located in the southwest of Guwahati city, in Kamrup district of Assam.
Ramsar Site: Deepor Beel was designated a Ramsar site in 2002 for sustaining a range of aquatic life forms besides 219 species of birds.
Important Bird Area: It is also an important bird sanctuary (IBA) habituating many migrant species.
Flora: A large variety of aquatic flora of tropical wetland is found in Deepor Beel and its adjoining areas. The Giant Water Lilies is of considerable botanical and economic importance.
Fauna: It is home to many migratory birds. Deepor Beel supports some globally threatened species of birds like Spot-billed Pelican, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Baer’s Pochard, Palas Sea Eagle, Greater Adjutant Stork.
Climate: The climate is humid and tropical monsoon, with a prolonged monsoon season from May to September and a relatively cool, winter.
- It is considered one of the largest beels in the Brahmaputra valley of Lower Assam. Beel is categorized as a representative of the wetland type under the Burma monsoon forest biogeographic region.
- Every year during winters thousands of migratory birds start taking shelter from mid-November in Deepor Beel. They arrive at this destination after completing a troublesome journey of several thousand kilometres from winter-hit regions of Europe, Antarctica, North America, South Africa, China, Russia, Ghana, Siberia, etc.
Concerns: Deepor Beel is in a bad state. It is losing connectivity with small rivers like Kalmoni, Khonjin, and Basistha. It is due to encroachment upon the natural channels of the wetland, and over-exploitation of the wetland.
Tso Kar Wetland
India has added Tso Kar Wetland Complex in Ladakh as its 42nd Ramsar site. It is the 2nd one in the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh.
About Tso Kar Basin: It is a high-altitude wetland complex. It consists of two connected lakes; Startsapuk Tso (a freshwater lake of about 438 hectares to the south) and Tso Kar (a hypersaline lake of 1800 hectares to the north).
The name Tso Kar refers to the white salt efflorescence on the margins of the lake caused by the evaporation of the saline waters.
Location: It is situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh, India.
Fauna: Numerous threatened species inhabits this wetland, including the endangered saker falcon, and Asiatic wild dog or dhole, and the vulnerable snow leopard.
Important Bird Area: The Tso Kar Basin is an A1 Category Important Bird Area (IBA) as per Bird Life International and a key staging site in the Central Asian Flyway.
Important Breeding Ground: The site is one of the most important breeding areas of the Black-necked Crane in India. It is also the major breeding area for Great Crested Grebe Bar-headed Geese, Ruddy Shelduck, Brown-headed Gull, Lesser Sand-Plover, and many other species.
Lonar lake Wetland
India has named Lonar lake and Sur Sarovar lake as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
About Lonar Lake: Lonar wetland is a natural, saline lake situated in Buldhana district of the state of Maharashtra. It is a notified National Geo Heritage Monument.
The lake is high in salinity and alkalinity, as the lack of an outflow leads to a concentration of minerals as the lake water evaporates.
Fauna: It is home to 160 species of birds including the vulnerable Asian woollyneck and common pochard. 12 species of mammals including the iconic grey wolf also stay here.
Flora: Lonar wetlands preserve the Indian sandalwood tree that is vulnerable to exploitation as well as animal species like the grey wolf, jungle cats, hyenas, cobras, water snakes, and several beautiful migratory bird species.
Formation: The lake is believed to have been formed when a meteorite crashed into Earth around 50,000 years ago. The lake sits inside the Deccan Plateau- a massive plain of volcanic basalt rock created by eruptions some 65 million years ago.
- This site also has archaeological, cultural, and spiritual significance with 27 temples, 3 monuments, and 3 inscriptions.
- The lake is mentioned in ancient scripts like the Skanda Purana, the Padma Purana, and the Ain-i-Akbari.
Sur Sarovar Lake Wetland
India has named Lonar lake and Sur Sarovar lake as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
About Soor Sarovar Lake: Also known as Keetham lake, it is a human-made reservoir. Lake is situated alongside the river Yamuna in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. The river was constructed by the British to meet the water requirements of the city of Agra during the summer months.
Location: The lake is situated within the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary. It was declared as a bird sanctuary in the year 1991. It also has a Bear Rescue centre for rescued dancing bears.
Fauna: The Site provides refuge to resident and migratory birds, and more than 60 species of fish. Threatened species include the vulnerable greater spotted eagle, sarus crane, spot-billed duck, and catfish.
Significance: The Site is important for bird species that migrate on the Central Asian flyway, with over 30,000 waterbirds known to visit the reservoir annually.
About Sambhar Lake: It is India’s largest inland saline water body.
Ramsar Site and Important Bird Area: The lake was also designated as a Ramsar site in 1990. It is also famous for salt production and is also an Important Bird Area (IBA).
Location: It is located near Jaipur in Rajasthan.
- The lake is surrounded on all sides by the Aravali hills. It spreads across Jaipur and Nagaur districts and also a part of Ajmer district in Rajasthan.
- The lake receives water from five rivers Medtha, Samaod, Mantha, Rupangarh, Khari, and Khandela.
Vegetation: The vegetation surrounding Sambhar Lake including the watershed zone is basically dry thorn scrub, which is typical of arid and semi-arid areas.
Fauna: About 45 species of water birds as ducks, shorebirds, and geese are spotted at Sambhar. However, Sambhar Lake is famous for harboring flamingos in large
numbers, next only to Rann of Kutch in the country. It also homes different avifauna like a black-headed gull and Northern Shoveller.
Significance: Every year, a large number of birds from the cold northern regions of Central Asia come to Sambhar Lake. In 2019, more than 20,000 migratory birds died due to avian botulism in the lake.
Kabartal Wetland has been designated as a Ramsar site. With this, the total number of Ramsar sites in India is 39, the highest in South Asia.
About Kabartal Wetland: It is also known as Kanwar Jheel. It covers 2,620 hectares of the Indo-Gangetic plains in the Begusarai district of Bihar.
Location: It is located Begusarai district of the state of Bihar. It is formed in the depression between River Burhi Gandak and the paleochannel of River Bagmati.
Fauna: It is home to species such as white-rumped vulture (Critically Endangered), red-headed vulture (Critically Endangered), and two waterbirds, the sociable lapwing and Baer’s pochard.
Biodiversity: Significant biodiversity is present in the wetland. It is also an important stopover along the Central Asian Flyway for migratory waterbirds.
Significance: It acts as a vital flood buffer for the region besides providing livelihood opportunities to local communities.
Khijadia Bird Sanctuary in Gujarat and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary
News: On World Wetlands Day, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands designated Khijadia Bird Sanctuary in Gujarat and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh as wetlands of international importance.
What is Wetland?
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands defines wetlands as “areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters.”
However, the Indian government’s definition of wetland excludes river channels, paddy fields, and other areas where commercial activity takes place.
Wetlands in India
Globally, wetlands cover 6.4% of the geographical area of the world.
In India, wetlands make up 4.63% of the total geographical area of the country. Among them, inland-natural wetlands account for 43.4% and coastal-natural wetlands for 24.3%. India has 19 types of wetlands.
In the state-wise distribution of wetlands, Gujarat is at the top with 22.7% of total wetlands areas of the country. It is followed by Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
Ramsar Sites globally and in India
The countries with the most Ramsar Sites are the United Kingdom (175) and Mexico (142). Bolivia has the largest area under wetland protection.
India has a total of 49 designated sites spread over 18 states and two Union Territories. Of the 49 sites, 10 are in UP, 6 in Punjab, 4 each in Gujarat and Jammu, and Kashmir among others.
About Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary
Located in: Gujarat.
Type: Freshwater wetland located near the coast of the Gulf of Kutch.
Flora and Fauna: The site provides habitat to endangered Pallas’s fish-eagle, Indian skimmer, and the vulnerable common pochard. The site also regularly supports more than 1% of the south and south-west Asian population of Dalmatian pelicans, more than 2% of greylag goose, and more than 20% of the common crane.
The sanctuary is now part of Marine National Park, Jamnagar (the first marine national park in the country) and also part of the Central Asian Flyway.
Note: Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary has become the fourth wetland of Gujarat to get the Ramsar tag. Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, Thol Wildlife Sanctuary and Wadhwana wetland are the other Ramsar sites in the state.
About Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in: Uttar Pradesh
Type: Freshwater marsh
A freshwater marsh is a non-tidal, non-forested marsh wetland that contains fresh water and is continuously or frequently flooded.
Significance: It is the largest natural floodplain wetland in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Flora and Fauna: The sanctuary serves as a natural habitat for the state bird, Sarus. It also provides a wintering ground for over 25 species that migrate on the Central Asian Flyway. The sanctuary also supports 45 species of fish such as vulnerable European carp and the catfish Wallago Attu.
Significance of Ramsar Listing
Ramsar secretariat designating a wetland as a wetland of global importance may not lead to any extra funding by the global body. But from the management point of view, it is like an ISO certification.
Moreover, not every Ramsar Site is a notified protected area under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. But a Ramsar tag makes it incumbent upon the authority to strengthen the protection regime.
News: Haiderpur Wetland of Western Uttar Pradesh has been recognized as the 47th Ramsar site in the country and 9th in Uttar Pradesh.
About Haiderpur Wetland
Haiderpur Wetland is a human-made wetland situated on the Muzaffarnagar-Bijnor border in Uttar Pradesh.
It was formed in 1984 by the construction of Madhya Ganga Barrage at the confluence of the Solani and Ganga rivers. It is part of Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary.
Haiderpur Wetland supports a variety of plant species as it is a source of freshwater and groundwater recharge.
It also supports more than 15 globally threatened species such as the critically endangered gharial and the endangered hog deer, black-bellied tern, steppe eagle, Indian skimmer, and gold mahseer.
News: The Basai Wetland has shrunk to a quarter of its original size over the years.
About Basai Wetland
Located in: Gurgaon, Haryana.
Flora and Fauna: It houses 20,000 birds of over 280 species including migratory birds and endangered birds.
Threats: Due to the accelerated expansion of Gurugram, the wetland continues to disappear under newly laid roads, modern housing constructions, and other infrastructure development.
Moreover, an upcoming expressway cutting through the terrain of the wetland has majorly impacted the flyway of thousands of migratory birds from Europe and Central Asia.
Recognized as a key biodiversity area by the IUCN and the Wildlife Institute of India
Recognized globally as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International.
The wetland lies in one of the paleochannels of the Sahibi River. It is a tributary of the Yamuna which originates from the Aravalli range in Rajasthan and flows through west and South Haryana into Delhi where it is also known as the Najafgarh drain.
Note: The Basai Wetlands have not yet been declared a protected wetland by the Government of Haryana.
Asan Conservation Reserve
The Asan Conservation Reserve (ACR) was declared as a site of international importance under the Ramsar Convention becoming Uttarakhand state’s first entry into the coveted list and 38th Ramsar Wetland Site of India.
About Asan Conservation Reserve: Asan Reserve is at the confluence of the Asan River and Yamuna River canal. The reserve is known particularly for its avifaunal diversity owing to which it has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA).
Location: Near Dehradun district in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.
Fauna: It is home to species such as white-rumped vulture (Critically Endangered), ruddy shelduck (Least Concern), red-headed vulture (Critically Endangered), and Asian woolly neck (Vulnerable) among others. It is one of the best-known sites for the congregation of ruddy shelduck.
Significance: The wetland also acts as a host to several migratory birds from October to March. The reserve has a year-round availability of freshwater owing to a constant inflow of water through the Yamuna canal and Asan River.
Kakoijana Reserve Forest
News: Villagers in Assam’s Bongaigaon district have opposed a move by the State government to upgrade Kakoijana Reserve Forest to a wildlife sanctuary.
About Kakoijana Reserve Forest
Location: Bongaigaon district of Assam.
It was constituted in the year 1966 as a reserve forest. The reserve is one of the better-known homes of the golden langur (Trachypithecus geei).
Note: Golden langur is found only in Assam and Bhutan. It is listed in the world’s 25 most endangered primates.
Reason behind opposition
Once the Kakoijana Reserve Forest is converted into a wildlife sanctuary, stricter rules will be applied and this will impact the customary and traditional practices and consequently result in villagers losing their rights over the forest.
Instead, the villagers have demanded that the reserve forest should be converted into a community forest reserve using Forest Rights Act, 2006. This is because some areas inside the forest are sacred, and their sanctity should be maintained.
News: According to a study, more than 75% of the Amazon rainforest has been heading towards a tipping point since the early 2000s.
About Amazon Rainforest
These are large tropical rainforests occupying the drainage basin of the Amazon River and its tributaries in northern South America. It covers an area of 6,000,000 square km.
Comprising about 40% of Brazil’s total area, it is bounded by the Guiana Highlands to the north, the Andes Mountains to the west, the Brazilian central plateau to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.
Note: Tropical forests are closed-canopy forests growing within 28 degrees north or south of the equator. They are very wet places, receiving more than 200 cm of rainfall per year, either seasonally or throughout the year.
Temperatures are uniformly high – between 20°C and 35°C.
Such forests are found in Asia, Australia, Africa, South America, Central America, Mexico, and many of the Pacific Islands.
Significance of Amazon Rainforest
Amazon’s rainforest is home to 30% of the world’s species, comprising 40,000 plant species, 16,000 tree species, 1,300 birds, and more than 430 species of mammals.
The rainforest is also a carbon sink — a place that absorbs more carbon dioxide than it releases. It plays an essential role in combating climate change.
What is happening with the Amazon Rainforest?
The Amazon Rainforest is getting impacted by activities such as Deforestation, increase in temperature and other human-induced activities. Due to this, it is losing its ability to bounce back from damage caused by droughts, fires, and deforestation.
The study has also warned that the rainforest may become a dry savanna-like ecosystem. This means that it could transform into a carbon source: Places that release more CO2 than they absorb.