India names important bird sanctuary in Gujarat state
The government of India has designated its 26th Wetland of International Importance, Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary (12,000 hectares, 22°46’33”N 072°02’21”E), a wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat state. As summarized by Ms Nessrine Alzahlawi, Ramsar’s Assistant Advisor for Asia-Oceania, based upon the Ramsar Information Sheet for the site, Nalsarovar is A natural freshwater lake (a relict sea) that is the largest natural wetland in the Thar Desert Biogeographic Province and represents a dynamic environment with salinity and depth varying depending on rainfall. The area is home to 210 species of birds, with an average 174,128 individuals recorded there during the winter and 50,000 in the summer. It is an important stopover site within the Central Asia Flyway, with globally threatened species such as the critically endangered Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius) and the vulnerable Marbled Teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris) stopping over at the site during migration, while the vulnerable Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) takes refuge there during summer when other water bodies are dry.
The wetland is also a lifeline for a satellite population of the endangered Indian Wild Ass (Equus hemionus khur) which uses this area in the dry season. Local communities heavily rely on the lake as it provides them with a source of drinking water and water for irrigiation, as well as an important source of income from fishing for Catla fish (Catla Catla) and Rohu (Labeo rohita). An average of 75,000 tourists visit the wetland annually.
India presently has 26 Ramsar Sites covering 689,131 hectares. This new site designation has benefited from financial, technical and scientific support from WWF International Freshwater Programme and WWF-India.
The Ramsar Secretariat would like to take this opportunity to convey best wishes to Dr Sidharth Kaul, our longtime National Focal Point, on the occasion of his forthcoming retirement.