Pakistan designates three new Ramsar sites

05/05/2003

Pakistan designates three new Ramsar sites

The Ramsar Bureau is particularly pleased to announce three new Wetlands of International Importance in Pakistan totaling over 1 million hectares, all wildlife sanctuaries and all in Sindh Province, designated effective 5 November 2002. Deh Akro-II Desert Wetland Complex (20,500 ha, 26°50'N 068°20'E) consists of east-west dune systems punctuated by 36 permanent lakes in the inter-dunal valleys, home to a number of rare species. Indus Delta (~472,800 ha, 24°06'N 067°42'E) is the 5th largest delta system in the world and home to the 7th largest mangrove forest system. The Runn of Kutch (566,375 ha; 24°23'N 070°05'E), part of the great Thar desert and part of the very large transfrontier wetland system also known as the Rann of Kutch, is likewise characterized by sand dune systems broken up by inter-dunal depressions with alluvial soil. Sindh authorities were materially assisted in the preparation of these site designation by WWF-Pakistan with the benefit of financial assistance from WWF International's Living Waters Programme. Pakistan now has 19 Ramsar sites covering 1,343,627 hectares, and the Convention's 1283 sites now cover a surface area of 108,751,595 hectares.

(Note: WWF is also working with the Indian Government to prepare the designation of several new wetlands of international importance in India, including the Indian side of the Rann of Kutch. WWF is expecting that the process under way in India may be completed very soon.)


Deh Akro-II Desert Wetland Complex. 05/11/02; Sindh; 20,500 ha; 26°50'N 068°20'E. Wildlife Sanctuary. A complex of four major habitats, desert, wetland, marsh, and agricultural, 330km northeast of Karachi, representing an example of a natural inland wetland ecosystem comprising 36 lakes and unique desert habitat, which supports a variety of rare and endangered wildlife species. Based in a typical stable sand desert covered with 5m-10m dunes lying in an east-west orientation, the flat-bottomed valleys between them contain lakes, mostly brackish but five freshwater, recharged by seepage from the Nara and Jamrau irrigation canals and by rainwater. The complex plays host to a considerable number of fauna that are rare (e.g., Desert cat Felis libyca, Darter Anhinga melanogaster pennant, Garganey Anas querquedula, Black Ibis Pseudibis papillosa) and endangered (e.g., Marsh crocodile crocodylus palustris, Hog deer Axis porcinus, White-eyed pochard Anthya nyroca), and it supports many indigenous fish species - though commercial fishing is prohibited, subsistence fishing by local people is permitted. Water scarcity during a current long dry spell is considered to be a threat. WWF-Pakistan assisted in preparations for the designation of the site. Ramsar site no. 1283.

Indus Delta. 05/11/02; Sindh; ~472,800 ha; 24°06'N 067°42'E. Includes wildlife sanctuaries. The fifth largest delta in the world, formed under largely arid climatic conditions and characterized by high river discharge, moderate tides, and evidently the highest wave energy of any river in the world. The fan-shaped delta consists of creeks, estuaries, mud, sand, salt flats, mangrove habitat, marshes, sea bays, and straits and rocky shores. Its 129,000 ha. of mangrove, mostly Avicenna marina, comprises 97% of the total mangrove area in the country and is said to be the 7th largest mangrove forest in the world. A large number of species are supported, of birds (including the threatened Dalmatian pelican), of fish and shrimps, and of dolphins (Plumbeous dolphin, Finless porpoise, and Bottlenose dolphin), humpback whale, and reptiles. The area is rich in archaeological and religious heritage. Some 40 settlements in the area, with about one million people, find livelihoods largely from fishing. Ramsar site no. 1284.

Runn of Kutch. 05/11/02; Sindh; 566,375 ha; 24°23'N 070°05'E. Wildlife Sanctuary. Part of the great Thar desert and comprising stablized sand dunes, some more than 170m in height, with broad inter-dunal valleys of alluvial soil, integral with the large Rann of Kutch across the frontier with India, which includes permanent saline marshes, coastal brackish lagoons, tidal mudflats, and estuarine habitats. The site supports many locally and globally threatened species, including the Great Indian bustard (Choriotis nigriceps), Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata), Sarus crane (Grus antigone), and hyena (Hyeana hyaena) and supports more than 1% of the biogeographical population of flamingos Phoenicopterus ruber and P. minor. Some 500,000 agro-pastoralists live in 330 villages/hamlets in the site area, and rich archaelogical remains include three giant temples dating from 1375-1449. Scarcity of water remains the potential threat to the ecosystem. WWF-Pakistan and Sindh authorities have carried out work with GEF funding and a management plan is in preparation. Ramsar site no. 1285.

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