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India Celebrates World Environment Day with Two New Ramsar Sites

In a move that highlights India’s dedication to wetland conservation, the country designated two new wetlands as Wetlands of International Importance on World Environment Day, June 5th, 2024. These sanctuaries, aptly named Nagi Bird Sanctuary and Nakti Bird Sanctuary, join the prestigious Ramsar Sites list, bringing India’s total to 82.

Both sanctuaries lie within the Jhajha forest range of Jamui District, Bihar. Interestingly, these are man-made reservoirs, created by dams on the Nagi and Nakti rivers. Despite their human-made origins, the surrounding catchments boast dry deciduous forests nestled amidst rolling hills.

Nakti Bird Sanctuary (Ramsar Site No. 2546) was initially built for irrigation purposes. However, since its construction, the area surrounding the dam has flourished into a haven for over 150 species of birds, mammals, fish, and aquatic life. This includes a surprising diversity, from globally threatened species like the Indian elephant and the Wallago catfish to a vibrant community of reptiles and amphibians.

Recognizing its significance as a wintering ground for migratory birds, Nakti was declared a Bird Sanctuary in 1984. During these colder months, over 20,000 birds flock to the area, including one of the largest congregations of red-crested pochards seen on the entire Indo-Gangetic plain. Beyond its ecological importance, the sanctuary plays a vital role in supporting the water needs of local communities, both for agriculture and domestic use. It’s even become a popular destination for birdwatchers seeking a glimpse of this avian spectacle.

Nagi Bird Sanctuary (Ramsar Site No. 2545) boasts a similar origin story. The damming of the Nagi River led to the gradual formation of clear-water bodies teeming with aquatic vegetation. This rich ecosystem provides critical habitat for over 75 bird species, 33 fish varieties, and 12 aquatic plant species. It’s particularly renowned for hosting one of the largest congregations of bar-headed geese found anywhere on the Indo-Gangetic plain. Nagi’s importance extends beyond its ecological value. The reliable water source irrigates over 9,800 acres of farmland and serves as a hub for recreation, tourism, and educational activities.

The designation of these two sanctuaries as Ramsar Sites signifies India’s commitment to protecting its wetlands and the diverse life they sustain. With continued efforts, these vital ecosystems will continue to thrive, ensuring a healthy environment for generations to come.

PIC Courtesy: Ramsar

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