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Five wetlands in India declared Ramsar Sites

File photo of the Pichavaram Mangrove, Tamil Nadu, now a Ramsar site

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has announced that India has designated five new Ramsar sites. These new sites are Tamil Nadu’s Karikili Bird Sanctuary, Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve Forest and Pichavaram Mangrove; Mizoram’s Pala wetland and Sakhya Sagar in Madhya Pradesh.

With the designation of these sites as “wetlands of international importance”, the number of Ramsar sites has increased from 49 to 54.

A wetland is an ecosystem flooded by water, seasonally or permanently and India’s has the largest number of Ramsar sites in Asia. Ramsar Convention or the Convention on Wetlands, is an intergovernmental treaty for the conservation of wetlands which was established in 1971 by UNESCO and came into force in 1975. It provides for national action and international cooperation on the issue of wetland and wise sustainable use of their resources.

The Pichavaram mangrove is India’s second largest mangrove ecosystems and has littoral and swamp forest habitats. Situated between the estuaries of the Vellar and Kollidam rivers it is home to many threatened species, like great white-bellied heron, spoon-billed sandpiper, the endangered spotted greenshank and the vulnerable olive ridley turtle.

The Pallikaranai wetland is a freshwater marsh in Chennai and is situated adjacent to the Bay of Bengal. This heterogenous ecosystem covers a geographical area of 80 square kilometres and supports 337 species of floras and faunas. It supports 115 species of birds, 10 species of mammals, 21 species of reptiles, 10 species of amphibians, 46 species of fishes, 9 species of molluscs, 5 species of crustaceans, and 7 species of butterflies. There are 114 species of plants including 29 grass species, exotic floating vegetation like water hyacinth and water lettuce,

Located in Kancheepuram district of Tamil Nadu, Karikili Bird Sanctuary is a protected area spread over 151.3-acre. In this sanctuary 100 species of birds have been recorded so far.

Pala wetland is Mizoram’s largest natural wetland and its lake, which is more than 16 metres deep, supports a rich diversity of animal species, including at least seven mammals, 222 birds, 11 amphibians and 21 reptiles. It is home to sambar deer, wild boars and barking deer and endangered Hoolock gibbon and Phayre’s leaf monkey. It is revered by the local Mara people.

Sakhya Sagar Lake is a lake located in Shivpuri near Madhav National Park and has been created on the Manier river. There are several animals including Indian pythons, marsh crocodiles, monitor lizards, and reptiles, around this lake.