Ramsar Wetland Sites in India

Ramsar Wetland Sites in India

Ramsar Wetland Sites in India

Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change announced that on the eve of World Wetlands Day, 2024, India has increased its tally of Ramsar sites to 80 from the existing 75 by designating five more wetlands as Ramsar sites. Three of these sites, Ankasamudra Bird Conservation Reserve, Aghanashini Estuary and Magadi Kere Conservation Reserve are located in Karnataka whereas two, Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary and Longwood Shola Reserve Forest are in Tamilnadu.
What are the Wetlands?
  • Wetlands are areas where water is the primary factor controlling the environment and the associated plant and animal life. They occur where the water table is at or near the surface of the land, or where the land is covered by water.
  • The Ramsar Convention’s definition for wetlands includes: “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 tides, does not exceed six meters”.
  • Fishponds, rice paddies, and saltpans are human-made wetlands.
What is Ramsar Convention and what is its mission?
  • Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty adopted in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea.
  • It came into force for India on 1st February, 1982. Those wetlands which are of international importance are declared as Ramsar sites.
  • The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world.
 Montreux Record:
  • The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference. It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.
  • At present, two wetlands of India are in Montreux Record:
    • Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan) and
    • Loktak Lake (Manipur).
    • Chilika Lake (Odisha) was placed in the record but later removed from it.

About the recent additions


1. Ankasamudra Bird Conservation Reserve (Karnataka):

  • It is a human-made village irrigation tank built centuries back and is spread over an area of 244.04 acres adjoining the Ankasamudra village.
  • ABCR is about an hour from Hampi town and very near to Tungabhadra Reservoir.
  • It was declared a ‘Birds Conservation Reserve’ in 2017 as per the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • It has been home to a wide variety of birds, both domestic and migratory. There are 175 species (of birds) and even 11 species from the IUCN Red List.
  • Little cormorants, Indian cormorants, great cormorants, grey herons, purple herons, and black-crowned night herons (rare for Ballari and its first record of breeding) are among the variety of birds seen nesting and breeding.

2. Aghanashini Estuary (Karnataka):

  • It is spread over an area of 4801 ha, and is formed at the confluence of the Aghanashini River with the Arabian Sea.
  • The brackish water of the estuary provides diverse ecosystem services including flood and erosion risk mitigation, biodiversity conservation and livelihood support.
  • The wetland also provides livelihoods by supporting fishing, agriculture, collection of edible bivalves and crabs, shrimp aquaculture, traditional fish farming in the estuarine rice fields (locally known as Gazni rice fields) and salt production.
  • The mangroves bordering the estuary help to protect the shores against storms and cyclones.

3. Magadi Kere Conservation Reserve (Karnataka):

  • It is a human-made wetland with an area of nearly 50 hectares which was constructed to store rainwater for irrigation purposes.
  • The wetland harbors two vulnerable species, namely Common pochard (Aythya ferina) and River tern (Sterna aurantia) and four near-threatened species namely Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster), Black-headed Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus), Woolly- necked Stork (Ciconia episcopus) and Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala).
  • It is also one of the largest wintering grounds for the Bar-headed goose (Anser indicus) in Southern India. It has been declared globally as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA).

4. Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary (Tamil Nadu):

  • Water from the wetland is utilized by the villagers for cultivating agricultural crops such as paddy, sugar cane, cotton, corn, and split red gram.
  • About 198 species of birds have been recorded here; some of the important visitors being the Bar headed Goose, Pin-tailed duck, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Eurasian Wigeon, Common teal and Cotton teal.

5. Longwood Shola Reserve Forest (Tamil Nadu):

  • It derives its name from the Tamil word, “Solai”, which means a ‘tropical rainforest’.
  • The ‘Sholas’ are found in the upper reaches of the Nilgiris, Anamalais, Palni hills, Kalakadu, Mundanthurai and Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu.
  • These forested wetlands serve as habitats for the globally endangered Black-chinned Nilgiri Laughing thrush (Strophocincla cachinnans), Nilgiri Blue Robin (Myiomela major), and vulnerable Nilgiri Wood-pigeon (Columba elphinstonii).

In the 75th year of Independence, 11 wetlands were added to the list of Ramsar sites.

1. Tampara Lake (Odisha)

  • Tampara Lake is among the most prominent freshwater lakes in the State of Odisha situated in Ganjam district.
  • The depression on the ground gradually filled with rainwater from catchment flow and was called “Tamp” by the British and subsequently termed “Tampra” by the locals.
  • The wetland is an important habitat for vulnerable species such as Cyprinus carpio, common pochard (Aythya ferina), and river tern (Sterna aurantia).

2. Hirakud Reservoir (Odisha)

  • Hirakud Reservoir, the largest earthen dam in Odisha started operating in 1957. The reservoir is important for livelihoods of fishermen, tourism, irrigation and production of hydro-energy.
  • Out of the known 54 species of fish from the reservoir, one has been classed as being endangered, six near threatened and 21 fish species of economic importance.
  • The wetland also provides important hydrological services by moderating floods in the Mahanadi delta, the ecological and socio-economic hub of the east coast of India.

3. Ansupa Lake (Cuttack district)

  • Ansupa Lake is the largest freshwater lake of Odisha situated in Banki subdivision of Cuttack district and has been famous from time immemorial for its scenic beauty, biodiversity, and natural resources.
  • The wetland is an oxbow lake formed by River Mahanadi.
  • The wetland provides a safe habitat to:-
    • Three threatened bird species– Rynchops albicollis (EN), Sterna acuticauda (EN) and Sterna aurantia (VU)
    • Three threatened fish species– Clarias magur (Clariidae) (EN), Cyprinus carpio (Cyprinidae) (VU) and Wallago attu (VU).

4. Yashwant Sagar (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Yashwant Sagar is one of the two Important Bird Areas (IBA) in the Indore region as well as one of the most important birding sites in Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Presently it is mainly used for water supply to the city of Indore and is also being used for fish culture on a commercial scale.
  • Yashwant Sagar is considered to be a stronghold of the vulnerable Sarus Crane in central India. Due to its vast shallow reed beds, the wetland is considered heaven to a large number of winter migratory birds.

5. Chitrangudi Bird Sanctuary (Tamil Nadu)

  • Chitrangudi Bird Sanctuary, locally known as “Chitrangudi Kanmoli” is located in Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu.
  • Chitrangudi Bird Sanctuary is an ideal habitat for winter migratory birds.
  • Notable waterbirds spotted from the site area spot-billed pelican, little egret, grey heron, large egret, open billed stork, purple, and pond herons. 

6. Suchindram Theroor Wetland Complex (Tamil Nadu)

  • Suchindrum Theroor Wetland complex is part of the Suchindrum-Theroor Manakudi Conservation Reserve. 
  • It is declared an Important Bird Area and lies at the southern tip of the Central Asian flyway of migratory birds.
  • This is a man-made, inland Tank and is perennial.

7. Vaduvur Bird Sanctuary (Tamil Nadu)

  • It is a large human-made irrigation tank and shelter for migratory birds as it provides a suitable environment for food, shelter, and breeding ground.
  • These tanks have the potential to harbor good populations of resident and wintering water birds.

8. Kanjirankulam Bird Sanctuary (Tamil Nadu)

  • Kanjirankulam Bird Sanctuary is a Protected area near Mudukulathur Ramanathapuram District, Tamil Nadu.
  • It is notable as a nesting site for several migratory heron species that roost in the prominent growth of babul trees there.
  • The site qualifies as an IBA as the threatened Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis breeds here.
  • The wetland supports IUCN RedList vulnerable avian species like Sterna aurantia (River Tern).

9. Thane Creek (Maharastra)

  • Thane Creek is located in Maharashtra, India. There are several sources of fresh water to the creek, of which Ulhas River is the largest, followed by many drainage channels from various suburban areas of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai & Thane. 
  • It has been declared as Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary.
  • Thane creek is fringed by mangroves on both banks & comprises around 20% of the total Indian mangrove species.
  • The area is an important part of the wetland complex of the Central Asian Flyway of the birds and has been categorized as an Important Bird Area (IBA).

10. Hygam Wetland Conservation Reserve (Baramulla district, J&K)

  • Hygam Wetland falls within the River Jhelum basin and plays a significant role as a flood absorption basin, biodiversity conservation site, eco-tourism site, and livelihood security for the local communities.
  • It serves as an abode to many residents and migratory bird species. 
  • It is also recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA).

11. Shallbugh Wetland Conservation Reserve (Sri Nagar, J&K)

  • Shallabug Wetland Conservation Reserve is located in the District Srinagar, UT of J&K.
  • It serves as an abode to more than four lakh resident and migratory birds of at least 21 species. 
  • Shallabugh Wetland plays a major role in the natural control, amelioration or prevention of flooding, It is also important for seasonal water retention for wetlands or other areas of conservation importance downstream.
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