India’s 42nd Ramsar Site is a high-altitude wetland in Ladakh
It is also a key staging site in the Central Asian Flyway
A freshwater lake and right next to it a hypersaline lake. These are the two principal waterbodies of the high-altitude wetland complex of Tso Kar Basin in Ladakh, India. On Thursday, December 24, 2020, this complex was added as India’s 42nd Ramsar Site.
Second Ramsar Site in Ladakh, the Tso Kar Basin is a high-altitude wetland complex, consist of Startsapuk Tso, a freshwater lake of about 438 hectares to the south, and Tso Kar itself, a hypersaline lake of 1,800 hectares to the north, situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh.
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 Tso Kar Basin is an A1 Category Important Bird Area (IBA) 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 (Grus nigricollis) in India. This IBA is also the major breeding area for Great Crested Grebe (Podicepscristatus), Bar-headed Geese (Anserindicus), Ruddy Shelduck (Tadornaferruginea), Brown-headed Gull (Larusbrunnicephalus), Lesser Sand-Plover (Charadriusmongolus) and many other species, a government release said.
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”.
Wetlands provide a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fibre, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation. They are, in fact a major source of water and our main supply of freshwater comes from an array of wetlands which help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater. The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change would be working closely with the UT Wetland Authority to ensure wise use of this site.