24 December 2020.
India has added Tso Kar Wetland Complex in Ladakh as its 42nd Ramsar site, which is a second one in the Union Territory of Ladakh. According to the , Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar, the complex is a notable example of two connected lakes, the freshwater Startsapuk Tso and the hypersaline Tso Kar.
About the Tso- Kar Wetland Complex:
- The Tso Kar Basin is a high-altitude wetland complex, consisting of two principal waterbodies, Startsapuk Tso, a freshwater lake of about 438 hectares to the south, and Tso Kar itself, a hypersaline lake of 1800 hectares to the north, situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh.
The Tso Kar Basin is an A1 Category Important Bird Area 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 in 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 site is habitat of numerous threatened species including the endangered saker falcon (Falco cherrug) and Asiatic wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus laniger), and the vulnerable snow leopard (Panthera uncia).
- The Site also acts as an important stopover ground for migratory birds along the Central Asian Flyway and is one of the most important breeding areas in India for the black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis).
- The Central Asian Flyway covers continental area of Eurasia between Arctic Ocean and Indian Ocean.
- It covers northern most breeding grounds in Siberia, non-breeding winter grounds in India, West Asia, Maldives and British Indian Ocean Territories.
- Ramsar convention is an inter-governmental environmental treaty established by UNESCO and came into force in 1975.
- A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
- 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.
Important Bird Area:
The Important Bird Area is an area identified internationally by a set of criteria for the conservation of bird population, developed by Bird Life International. There are 12,000 Important Bird Areas worldwide.
Global Important Bird Area Criteria:
Based on the criteria, the Global Important Bird Areas are classified as follows:
- A1 Category: Globally Threatened Species. The sites under this category holds bird population that are categorised as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- A2 Category: Restricted Range species
- A3: Biome Restricted Species
- A4: Congregations
Central Asian Flyway
The Central Asian Flyway covers continental area of Eurasia between Arctic Ocean and Indian Ocean. It covers northern most breeding grounds in Siberia, non-breeding winter grounds in India, West Asia, Maldives and British Indian Ocean Territories.
Tsomoriri was included as a Ramsar site in 2002. It is a brackish lake that lies at a height of 4,595 metres above the sea level. This site is the only breeding ground of the black-necked cranes outside China. These birds are endangered.