World Wetlands Day: Sanctuaries in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh listed as Ramsar sites

What is the News?

On the occasion of World Wetlands Day, Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary in Gujarat and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh have been included as Ramsar Site from India.

With this, India now has 49 Ramsar sites which is the highest in South Asia. 

Moreover, the National Wetland Decadal Change Atlas was also launched.

What is Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary?

Khijadiya sanctuary is located in Gujarat.It is a freshwater wetland located near the coast of the Gulf of Kutch.

It was formed following the creation of a bund (dike) in 1920 by the then ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Nawanagar to protect farmlands from saltwater ingress. 

The sanctuary is now part of Marine National Park, Jamnagar, the first marine national park in the country.The sanctuary is also part of the Central Asian Flyway.

The site provides habitat to endangered Pallas’s fish-eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus) and Indian skimmer (Rynchops albicollis), and the vulnerable common pochard (Aythya ferina). 

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 common crane. 

Significance: 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.

What is Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary?

Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Uttar Pradesh.It is a freshwater marsh and is the largest natural floodplain wetland of eastern Uttar Pradesh. 

Note: A freshwater marsh is a non-tidal, non-forested marsh wetland that contains fresh water and is continuously or frequently flooded.

The Sanctuary was established in 1980 and is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act (1972). It is declared as an “eco-sensitive zone” which extends up to a kilometre around its boundary.

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, some of which are endangered Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), the vulnerable greater spotted eagle (Aquila clanga) among others.

The sanctuary also supports 45 species of fish such as vulnerable European carp (Cyprinus carpio) and the catfish Wallago attu, and the near-threatened Gangetic ailia (Ailia coila) and silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix).

What is the National Wetland Decadal Change Atlas?

It has been prepared by the Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad.The original Atlas was released by SAC in 2011.

The Atlas highlights the changes which have happened in Wetlands across the country in the past decade. 

The Atlas has been used extensively by all the State Governments in their planning processes

Source: This post is based on the articles:

“World Wetlands Day: Sanctuaries in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh listed as Ramsar sites” published in Indian Express on 3rd Feb 2022.

“World Wetlands Day celebrated at Sultanpur National Park ” published in PIB on 3rd Feb 2022.

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