Ramsar Sites in Gujarat

by Vivek Doshi
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Ramsar Site in Gujarat

The Ramsar Convention (Ramsar Site) is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value. There are total of 75 sites in India and 4 of them belong to Gujarat.
There was only one Ramsar Wetland site in Gujarat till 2020. In 2021 3 more wetland were designated as Ramsar Sites.

Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary

Nalsarovar Lake, iron-flat plains and wetlands. This is the largest wetland sanctuary in the state and one of the biggest in the country as well. The sanctuary has flocks of indigenous and migratory birds, with as many as 250 species passing through in the winters.

Ducks, geese, eagles, spoonbills, cranes, pelicans and flamingos are best seen at daybreak and dusk. Wild asses and black bucks are also commonly seen in the lush region. There is an interpretation center here which offers details on birds and the habitat, especially flamingos, pelicans, egrets, herons, ducks, cormorants and cranes. The region was declared a sanctuary in 1969, and a Ramsar site since 2012

Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary

The Thol Lake Sanctuary is made up of a reservoir that was created in 1912 as an irrigation tank when the Maharajas of Baroda (Gaekwads) ruled the region. The lake, and the area around, was declared a sanctuary only in 1988, as it is home to a large number of avian species.. The wetland is an open water habitat surrounded by cropland, fallow land and scrubland, which helps other mammals to co-exist.

Apart from 150 species of birds, one can also spot black bucks, jackals and blue bulls in the vicinity. The protected area is great for waterfowl during monsoons and winters. Most travellers come to see thousands of flamingoes in the winters, covering the landscape in pink. Migratory birds like great white pelicans, mallards, geese, sarus cranes and many other waders make the sanctuary their home in the winters. The region was declared as Ramsar site in 2021

Wadhvana Wetland

Wadhwana is a century old tank, constructed by erstwhile King Gaikwad in 1909-10. This tank has a catchment area of 860 sqkm , deriving its water from Orsang river. This tank provides irrigation to 25 villages. The lake is an important wetland inviting migratory birds from far off places like Siberia and Europe.

Some of the birds seen around the lake: Coots, Ruddy Shelduck from ladakh , Little Grebes, Ferruguginous Pochards, Common Pochards, Greylag Geese from Northern Europe. All three varieties of Ibis- black, glossy & white. Kingfishers- Common, Pied and White throated, common sandpiper, Openbill Storks, Little cormorants, Darters, as well as Pond Herons, Small and medium Egrets, Black Winged Stilts, and the noisy Red Wattled Lapwings are seen. Large numbers of Wire Tailed Swallows fly around the lake. Hoopoes, Paddy field Pipits, Rufous tailed larks and the migrants- common Stonechat as well as white and yellow Wagtails are all present. Black Kites and Marsh Harrier too. The region was declared as Ramsar site in 2021

Khijadia Bird Sanctuary

This sanctuary is veritable showpiece for bird watchers since its unique quality of having freshwater area formed by rains are the cause of this unique diversity in a relatively small area of 6 square kilometers.

The fabulously diverse ecosystem offers diverse viewing pleasure to bird watchers. Along with marine and fresh water habitats, there are also marshy lands, mangroves, prosopis areas, mudflats, salt pans, creeks, forest scrub, sandy beaches, and even farmlands bordering the area.

Together, these ecosystems provide a haven for more than 220 species of resident and migratory birds. Bird watchers can train their binoculars and cameras at endangered species such as Dalmatian Pelican, Asian Open Bill Stork, Black Necked Stork, Darter, Black-headed Ibis, Eurasian spoonbill, and Indian Skimmer. On lucky days avian enthusiasts can spot these rare birds in large numbers. There are watchtowers, trails, and paddleboats to ease your avian encounters. It would be much appreciated if you are mindful of the conservation process and its realities while enjoying your delightful bird watching experience. The region was declared a sanctuary in 1981 and  Ramsar site in 2021.

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