Ladakh’s Tso Kar now a wetland of worldwide significance

Vibha Sharma 

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 24

India has added Tso Kar Wetland Complex in Ladakh as its 42nd Ramsar site, the  second one in the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh, according to the government.

Environment Minister Prakash  Javadekar shared the information.

The Tso Kar Basin is a high-altitude wetland complex, consisting of two principal water bodies–Startsapuk Tso, a freshwater lake of about 438 hectares to the south, and Tso Kar itself, a hypersaline lake of 1,800 hectares to the north, situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh, India. 

It is called Tso Kar, meaning white lake, because of the white salt efflorescence found on the margins due to the evaporation of highly saline water.

The Tso Kar Basin is an A1 category important bird area (IBA), as per Bird Life International and a key staging site in the Central Asian Flyway. The site is also one of the most important breeding areas of the black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis) in India. 

This IBA is also the major breeding area for Great Crested Grebe (Podicepscristatus), Bar-headed Geese (Anserindicus), Ruddy Shelduck (Tadornaferruginea), Brown-headed Gull (Larusbrunnicephalus), Lesser Sand-Plover (Charadriusmongolus) and many other species, a statement issued by the Centre said.

The aim of the Ramsar list is “to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands, which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits”.

The wetlands provide a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fibre, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation. They are, in fact, a major source of water and our main supply of freshwater comes from an array of wetlands, which help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater. 

The ministry would be working closely with the UT Wetland Authority to ensure wise use of this site.

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