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Winter migratory water birds make a beeline to Punjab’s Harike wetland

News: Winter migratory waterbirds using the central Asian flyway have started making a beeline to Punjab’s Harike wetland.

Facts:

  • Harike Wetland: It is one of the largest man-made wetlands of northern India which shares its area with the Tarntaran, Ferozpur and Kapurthala districts of Punjab.
  • It came into existence in 1952 after the construction of a barrage near the confluence of rivers Sutlej and Beas. The grand Indira Gandhi Canal in Rajasthan is fed from this wetland.
  • The wetland was accorded the wetland status in 1990 by the Ramsar Convention.
  • Migratory Birds:
    • The wetland is a significant abode for the migratory birds as every winter, the birds make their way 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.
  • Fauna: The wetland also harbors endangered aquatic mammalian as well as reptilian fauna like the Indus river dolphin, smooth-coated otter and seven species of rare freshwater turtles.
  • Concerns: Over the years, the number of certain species visiting the wetland has been 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.

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