Karnataka’s Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary declared a Ramsar site

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary in Srirangapatna, Karnataka, has been declared as the Ramsar site, signifying its status as a wetland of global importance. The bird sanctuary joined nine other wetlands in India that have been designated as Ramsar sites.

This is the first time a wetland in Karnataka is getting designated as Ramsar site.

The Union Environment Ministry Wednesday announced the recognition given to 10 wetlands designated as Ramsar sites, including the renowned Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, which is first such site in Karnataka.

“The 10 new sites include:  Six sites in Tamil Nadu and one each in Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. Designation of these sites would help in conservation and management of wetlands and wise use of their resources. India is one of the contracting parties to Ramsar Convention, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971. India signed it on 1st February 1982. So far, 64 wetlands covering an area of 12,50,361 ha have been designated as Ramsar Sites of International Importance from India, till date,” the ministry said.

Dr T V Ramachandra, professor at the Centre for Ecological Sciences department at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) said that Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is a representative, rare or unique wetland with diversity of waterfowl and deserves conservation.

“Considering Ranganathittu bird sanctuary as a Ramsar wetland of international significance will help in the conservation of the ecologically fragile region with wise use of wetlands and support local livelihood (boost eco-tourism) in addition to mitigating changes in climate. I am happy to learn that Karnataka state joins other states in India in getting designation of Ramsar wetland, which would improve human well-being and aids in the conservation and now many international and national visitors will have an opportunity to enjoy yet another tourist destination.”

‘Pakshi Kashi’ of Karnataka

Hailing the recognition that had come to Karnataka for the first time, Krishna Raj, a member of Karnataka State Wetland Conservation and Management Authority and a professor at Institute for Social and Economic Change said, “Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is also known as ‘Pakshi Kashi’ of the state. A lot of migratory birds from Africa and Siberia go there. There are nine criteria laid down by the convention which need to be met to get the tag and this sanctuary meets all. The sanctuary has rare species of birds, fish among others. This recognition will help in conservation of the wetland.”

He said that the efforts are now being on to propose the declaration of Aghanashini estuary as a Ramsar site.

Aghanashini River in central Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka originates in the Western Ghats and flows westward towards the Arabian Sea. A major part of its course travels through forested gorges and valleys.

Criterias for the Ramsar Site

A wetland should be considered internationally important if:

Criterion 1: it contains a representative, rare, or unique example of a natural or near-natural wetland type found within the appropriate biogeographic region.

Criterion 2: it supports vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species or threatened ecological communities.

Criterion 3: it supports populations of plant and/or animal species important for maintaining the biological diversity of a particular biogeographic region.

Criterion 4: it supports plant and/or animal species at a critical stage in their life cycles, or provides refuge during adverse conditions.

Criterion 5: it regularly supports 20,000 or more waterbirds.

Criterion 6: it regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of waterbird.

Criterion 7: it supports a significant proportion of indigenous fish subspecies, species or families, life-history stages, species interactions and/or populations that are representative of wetland benefits and/or values and thereby contributes to global biological diversity.

Criterion 8: it is an important source of food for fishes, spawning ground, nursery and/or migration path on which fish stocks, either within the wetland or elsewhere, depend.

Criterion 9: it regularly supports 1 per cent of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of wetland-dependent non-avian animal species.

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