July 26, 2007 1:16:32 am
The Wild Ass Sanctuary in the Rann of Kutch is all set to be enlisted as a World Natural Heritage site in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage by 2009. Along with the sanctuary, the Kanchenjunga Wildlife Park in Sikkim and Namdapha Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh too are expected to make it to the coveted list.
A proposal in this regard was submitted to UNESCO on March 15 last year to include these sites in the tentative list of World Natural Heritage list.
Speaking to The Indian Express from Dehradun, Director, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dr V B Mathur said that a study in this regard was carried out by Mysore-based Nature Conservation Foundation and Bangalore-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE) during December 2005. “Subsequently, we submitted the proposal in March and these three sites were included in the tentative list. The Western Ghat region with 39 sites spread across Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra has also made it to the list,” he said. The inclusion in the tentative list is the first step towards making it to the final list of world heritage.
For inclusion in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage, the site has to contain habitat for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including threatened species .
The Rann, the last habitat of the wild ass (Equus hemionus khur) covering an area of 4,954 sq km is one of the most remarkable and unique landscapes of its kind in the world, which is considered as a transitional area between marine and terrestrial ecosystems. During the monsoons, while the entire area gets inundated, as many as 74 elevated plateaus stand out in the area. The sanctuary also houses 253 flowering plant species, 93 species of invertebrates and 33 species of mammals including the Khur sub-species of wild ass.
“These nominations from India have already been included in the tentative list and we hope that they’ll be inducted in the World Heritage list in a few years,” said Mathur. He pointed out that after submitting the initial proposal a detailed dossier on the sanctuary has to be sent to UNESCO for finalisation of the process. With the deadline for 2008 list already over, WII is trying to prepare the dossier and send it by February 2008, which is the deadline for submission of dossiers for 2009 list.
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