Environment

Bihar: Human-made wetlands Nagi & Nakti recognised under Ramsar Convention

The inclusion of the two bird sanctuaries in the Ramsar Convention has taken the total number of Ramsar sites in India to 82

 
By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Thursday 06 June 2024
These sanctuaries are built on human-made wetlands. Photo: Mohd Imran Khan

Amid an ongoing heatwave and drying water bodies across India, there’s some good news from Bihar —  the Nagi and Nakti Bird Sanctuaries have been recognised as the wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

These sanctuaries are built on human-made wetlands and provide a natural habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna, especially flocks of birds.

Both these wetlands are deemed as protected areas situated in Bihar’s Jamui district. With their inclusion in the Ramsar Convention, the total number of such wetlands in India has risen to 82. It is important to note that the Kanwar Lake in Begusarai district was designated as Bihar’s first Ramsar Site in 2020.

Ramsar Convention is an international convention to conserve wetlands and was signed in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. 

Bihar Chief Wildlife Warden PK Gupta expressed his happiness about the two wetlands being recognised as Ramsar site.  

“We were execting this. It will inspire and motivate us for conservation of other wetlands in the state,” he told Down To Earth. 

The news has been welcomed by environmentalists and bird experts alike. 

“I am overjoyed with the announcement of designating Nagi bird sanctuary and Nakti bird sanctuary as the new 81st and 82nd Ramsar sites in India. I am thankful to the top officials of Bihar Forest,  Environment and Climate Change Department for this recognition,” Arvind Mishra, a Bihar-based bird expert, who is also member of the Governing Council of Mumbai-based Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). 

Mishra futher stated that both the bird sanctuaries draw hundreds of migratory birds in winters including those species that are critically endangered. 

“Some two years back, the department had finalised the proposals for five wetlands in the state for sending to the union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) for further processes of designation as Ramsar sites were Kusheshwar Asthan in Darbhanga, Tal Baraila in Vaishali, Gogabeel in Katihar, Nagi and Nakati dams in Jamui,” he added.

In terms of size, the Nagi and Natki bird sanctuaries are spread across 791 and 333 hectares respectively. 

As per the information available on the Ramsar Sites Information Service website, the two bird sanctuaries are human-made wetlands which were developed primarily for irrigation through the construction of Nakti Dam.

“Since the dam’s construction, the wetland and its surrounding area have provided habitat for over 150 species of birds, mammals, fish, aquatic plants, and reptiles and amphibians,” it mentions. 

These species include globally threatened species, including the endangered Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) and a vulnerable native catfish (Wallago attu). 

The catchment area of the wetlands is the largely dry deciduous forest which is surrounded by the  hills. 

In 1984, the wetland was designated as a Bird Sanctuary, highlighting its importance as a wintering habitat for several migratory species, with over 20,000 birds congregating during winter months. This includes one of the largest congregations of red-crested pochard (Netta rufina) on the Indo-Gangetic plain. 

Apart from supporting the agricultural and domestic water demands of local communities, the sanctuaries are popular as a recreational bird watching site.

As per Asiatic Waterbird Census(AWC) 2023, the Nakti bird sanctuary is the wetland with the highest number of birds reported with a count of 7,844 birds,  followed by Nagi bird sanctuary with 6,938  birds. 

 

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