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Wet Lands of Pakistan

WET LANDS OF PAKISTAN Although predominantly arid and semi-arid, Pakistan possesses a great variety of wetlands ranging from coastal mangroves and mudflats in the Indus Delta complex to the glacial lakes of the Himalayas. The total wetland area has been estimated at over 7,800,000 ha. Though rich in biodiversity, these areas have traditionally been neglected both in terms of conservation and sustainable development. Wetlands can be divided into three categories: inland, riverine and coastal.

These wetlands provide substantial economic benefits to local communities as they are a source of staple food, livestock grazing and fodder, fuel-wood, transport, energy generation and irrigation. In addition, these ecosystems provide essential habitats for a number of important mammal species like the smooth coated otter, Indus dolphin, fishing cat, hog deer, and wild boar. the following are the major wetlands of Pakistan: •Haleji, Hadero, kennjhar lake bufferzone •Zangi Nawar Lake •Ucchali, Khabbika, Jalar lake bufferzone •Rawal Lake •The Sind and Mekran coast Indus Delta and River system Haleji, Hadeiro, Keenjhar Lake Bufferzone: Asia’s greatest water fowl reserve, Haleji lake is 70 km (about 52 miles) from Karachi. A perennial freshwater lake with associated marshes. and adjacent brackish seepage lagoons, set in a stony desert. During winter, a hundred thousand birds fly down to Haleji from the cold of Siberia. It is a bird watchers’ paradise. Between Bhanbhore and Thatta, if you turn into the countrylane by the 82km (51/1 mile-furlong stone) a 6-km long drive will bring you to the largest bird sanctuary of the country, Haleji Lake.

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During the winter, migatory birds come to this lake in very large numbers to the great delight of the bird watchers. Haleji Lake supports a very diverse fauna and flora, including several threatened species, and is one of the most important breeding, staging and wintering areas for waterfowl in Sindh, regularly holding between 50,000 and 100,000 birds. You can drive along the 16 km. (10 miles) track around the lake for photography or bird watching. Another lake worth visiting is Lake Hadeiro 5km north of Haleji. Unlike Haleji lake this lake’s water is brakish.

Generally bird species different from Haleji are found here, especially Pelican and Flamingos . Ahead of this lake lies Keenjhar lake. A large natural freshwater lake, the largest in Pakistan, with extensive reed-beds, particularly in the shallow western and northern parts. This lake also contains many different species of birds different from Haleji and Hadeiro. Kinjhar Lake supports a very diverse flora and fauna, and is an extremely important breeding, staging and wintering area for a wide variety of waterfowl.

Mid-winter waterfowl counts in the four winters 1986/87 to 1989/90 averaged 140,000 (maximum 205,000 in 1987/88). Together, these three lakes provide refuge to almost 250 different species of birds. Common birds include Grey heron, Purple heron, Night heron, Purple Ganinule, Water rail, Brahminy kite, Black shouldered kite and Coucal. Rawal Lake: Rawal Lake is situated in the heart of the national capital Islamabad, protected within an isolated section of the Margalla Hills National Park.

A small water storage reservoir with some associated freshwater marshes, adjacent to a large area of protected woodland on the outskirts of Islamabad. The reservoir is of considerable importance for wintering waterfowl (mostly Anas platyrhynchos); it is scenically attractive and within very easy reach of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. It is a popular area for outdoor recreation including boating and sport fishing, and offers an ideal opportunity for the development of a conservation education centre and nature reserve with sophisticated facilities for the general public.

A large area of marsh at the northwest corner of the reservoir would be suitable for management as a strict nature reserve to provide disturbance-free areas for waterfowl; a smaller area of marsh at the northeast corner would make an ideal site for a visitor centre and other facilities for the general public This lake has many resident species of birds and provides refuge to more than a hundered migratory birds in the winters. The surrounding areas of this lake provide good habitat for some smaller mammals. These mammals include Common fox, Pangolin, Porcupine, Jungle cat, Jackal, Wild boar and ellow throated marten. Reptiles include indian cobra and Russell’s viper. Zangi Nawar Lake: Zangi Nawar Lake is situated in the soutwest of Quetta in the province of Baluchistan. Zangi Nawar is a unique wetland ecosystem, supporting a great diversity of fauna and flora in an otherwise inhospitable desert landscape. It is a very important breeding area for the endangered Marbled Teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris) and several other waterfowl, and when water levels are high, can hold as many as 90,000 ducks and coots in mid-winter.

The main lake (1,060 ha) was declared a Game Reserve in 1982 and has since been upgraded to a Wildlife Sanctuary. A shallow, brackish, eutrophic lake and associated marshes surrounded by high, windblown sand dunes, in a desolate region of stony plains and barren rocky hills. At low water levels, the lake fragments into a chain of shallow lagoons, and during periods of drought, the wetland may dry out completely This lake is listed in the Ramsar list of important wetlands. Many species of birds and reptiles are found in and around this lake.

Ucchali, Khabbaki and Jalar lake Bufferzone : The Ucchali complex is an internationally well known area for wetland conservation. This site is located in the Salt Range of north central Punjab, Pakistan. The Ucchali complex is a combination of three interdependent wetlands: Ucchali, Khabbaki and Jalar. The three lakes are in a closed bassin surrounded by hills which form the catchment areas. The wetlands are important for international conservation as they presently support the only wintering flock of White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) visiting Pakistan.

Along with the White-headed Duck, three other bird species also listed in the IUCN Red Data Book are supported on these lakes: the Cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus), the Imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca) and the Sociable plover (Vanellus gregarius). Other important avian species visiting the wetlands include flamingoes (Phoenicopterus ruber), pied harrier (Circus melanoleucos), greylag goose (Anser anser) and the ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca) besides many others. On the recommendations of the World Wildlife Appeal in 1966, Khabbaki lake was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary.

It was then declared a Ramsar site in 1976. The area was denotified in 1987 but, following the recommendations of the Ramsar Mission in 1991, Khabbaki lake was again declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in December 1992. Ucchali lake was declared a Game Reserve in May 1986 and its conservation status was extended for another five years from may 1991. Lake Jalhlar was given the status of Wildlife Sanctuary in 1993. Following the 1991 Ramsar Mission, it was proposed to declare the total Ucchali Complex as a Ramsar site.

The Ucchali wetlands cover about 1243 hectares and are managed as protected areas under the Punjab Wildlife Act (1974). A public awareness campaign was initiated by WWF-Pakistan to highlight the wetlands’ conservation values. WWF-Pakistan and the Punjab Wildlife Department have prepared the first integrated management plan for the Ucchali complex (Khan and Chaudhry, 1993). The plan seeks to maintain the natural integrity (our emphasis) of the site through appropriate conservation measures and also cater for the needs of local communities through sustainable development.

However, the proposed management plan for the Ucchali complex contains significant analysis of secondary information and opinions from experts working in the region but no information on the opinions of the village communities. It was therefore agreed that there was a need to understand the local communities’ perceptions on development and conservation issues and, more particularly, their views on the links between wetland management and local livelihoods.

A Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) workshop was thus organised as a result of a dialogue between WWF International, WWF-Pakistan and the Punjab Wildlife Department of the Government of Pakistan. Participatory Rural Appraisals were then carried out in three villages to further develop the proposed wetland management plan, prior to its submission for government approval and donor funding ( information from WWF Pakistan ). Indus Delta and River System: The Indus delta extends over an area of some 6000 hacters, on the border between Pakistan and India.

Its seaward costline is about 346km. A vast complex of river channels and creeks. Low lying sandy Island, mangrove swamps and intertidal mudflats covering about 200 km of outer edge of the delta. The mangroves in this region are considered to be the sixth largest in the world. Wildlife here is found nowhere else in Pakistan. Mammals include Wild boar, Hog deer, Fishing cat, Smooth-coated Otter, Small Indian Civet, Jungle cat, Jackal, Desert hare, Plumbeous Dophin and Finless Black Porpoise.

Birds of this region are Grey heron, Purple heron, Night heron, Flamingo, White pelican, Dalmacian pelican, Brahminy kite, Marsh harrier, Black shouldred kite, Kestrel, Indian sparrow hawk, Coucal, Purple Moorhen and Water rail. . The Sind and Makran Coast: The Makran Coast stretches from the Iranian border at the mouth of River Dasht eastward 700 km towards the Hub River. The coastline east of Hub River to the mouth of Indus river is called the Sind coast. This area is the wintering ground of numerous waders and waterfowl in the winters as well as a breeding ground for many resident species of birds.

The Arabian sea which makes this area contains many species of unique mammals only found here. The mammals of this area includes the largest land mammal on this planet the Blue Whale. Other mammals are Fin Whale, Bryde’s Whale,Humpback Whale,Dwarf Sperm Whale, Finless Porpoise, Long-beaked Dolphin. Rough-toothed Dolphin,indian Humbacked Dolphin, Bottled-nose Dolphin, Melon-headed Whale, False Killer Whale, Goosebeaked Whale and possibly Dugong (unconfirmed). This area is the breeding ground of the Green and the Olive Ridley turtle. There is a diverse marine life found along this coastline.


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