Thol Wildlife Sanctuary near Ahmedabad and Wadhwana wetland in Vadodara are among the four wetlands of the country that have been included on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, the Union government said on Saturday. With this, the number of Ramsar listed wetlands in Gujarat goes up to three and the listings come nine year after Nalsarovar had earned the tag in 2012.
“Four more wetlands from India get recognition from the Ramsar Secretariat as Ramsar sites. These sites are Thol and Wadhwana from Gujarat and Sultanpur and Bhindawas from Haryana,” a release from the Press Information Bureau (PIB) stated on Saturday. “With this, the number of Ramsar sites in India are 46 and the surface area covered by these sites is now 1,083,322 hectares. While Haryana gets its first Ramsar sites, Gujarat gets three more after Nalsarovar which was declared in 2012,” the release further stated.
The official website of the Ramsar secretariat showed that the proposal of the Indian government to designate Thol and Wadhwana was accepted in April this year but the details were made available only this week.
Located 40 km west of Ahmedabad city, Thol was constructed for irrigation in 1912. In 1988, it was declared as a wildlife sanctuary by the state government to protect the birdlife found in this open-water wetland site.
“It is on the Central Asian Flyway and more than 320 bird species can be found, making up some 57% of all the bird species of Gujarat. More than 110 waterbird species have been recorded, about 43% of India’s waterbird species, with almost 30% of those species being migratory waterbirds. More than 30 of the waterbirds are threatened, such as the critically endangered white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) and sociable lapwing (Vanellus gregarius), and the vulnerable sarus crane (Grus antigone), common pochard (Aythya farina) and lesser white-fronted goose (Anser erythropus),” Ramsar secretariat records in its note.
“This wetland regularly hosts more than 1% of the population of species including glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus). It is also essential during the dry seasons for a population of blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) and other mammals in the surrounding area. The Lake provides water for drinking and irrigation and enables groundwater recharge,” Ramsar secretariat further records as the reason for annotating Thol on the list of Wetlands of International Importance.
Likewise, Wadhawana was also created as an irrigation dam in 1910 in Dabhoil taluka of Vadodara, some 40 km away from Vadodara city.
“The wetland is internationally important for its birdlife as it provides wintering ground to migratory waterbirds, including over 80 species that migrate on the Central Asian Flyway. They include some threatened or near-threatened species such as the endangered Pallas’s fish-eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus), the vulnerable common pochard (Aythya ferina), and the near-threatened Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus), grey-headed fish-eagle (Icthyophaga ichthyaetus) and ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca). In addition the red-crested pochard (Netta rufina), a duck which is otherwise rare in Western India, is regularly recorded here during winter… ,” the Ramsar note on Wadhwana reads.
Stating that Ramsar recognition was a matter of pride, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “This once again manifests India’s centuries old ethos of preserving natural habitats, working towards flora and fauna protection, and building a greener planet.”