NAGPUR, NOV 2: A washim-based zoologist has proposed that the world famous meteoritic Lonar lake in Buldana district be declared a `Ramsar' site, arguing that it fulfills all the criteria for such a step.
A Ramsar site is a wetland area with specific biological and ecological characteristics. It derives its name from the Iranian city of Ramsar, where a convention on wetlands was held in 1971. During this convention a treaty was signed for international co-operation for the conservation of wetland habitats.
India, a participating nation, acceded to the convention in 1982. The governments party to the treaty have to agree to the following -- to designate at least one wetland for inclusion in the list of wetlands of international importance, to promote wise use of wetlands in their territory, to consult each other on implementing obligations arising from the convention, especially, but not exclusively in the case of shared wetland or water system, and to create wetland reserves.
Wetlands ecosystem is azone between the terrestrial and aquatic systems, characterising a unique environment suitable for development of particular kinds of flora and fauna.
Wetlands are selected for the list of Ramsar sites for their international importance, established on the basis of ecological, botanical, zoological and hydrological criteria. India, at present, has six Ramsar sites. Harike lake in Punjab, Chilka lake in Orissa, Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur (Rajasthan), Sambhar lake (Rajasthan), Wular lake (Kashmir) and Loktak lake (Manipur).
Ram Malu, reader and head of department, PGTD, Zoology, R A College, Washim, has made a case for Lonar lake as a probable Ramsar site. He presented a research paper to this effect at the recently held national conference on wetland conservation at Washim.
Lonar lake, the only inland saline lake in the region, is widely known all over the world because of the theory that it originated because of the impact of meteorites The lake water shows high concentration of salts likechlorides, carbonates and sodium. The lake was earlier used for preparation of salt products.
Malu has mentioned various features of the lake which he believes make it suitable for being declared as a Ramsar site. The lake ranks among the five largest craters of its kind in the world. Although full of salty water, it harbours an oasis of life within its womb.
What makes the lake more unique is the micro-ecosystem that has evolved within it. The lake is inhabited by a wide range of plant and animal life. The marshy areas around it, fresh water streams, man-made plantations, crop fields and remnants of original forests around the lake provide a special habitat for plants and animals.
An impressive number of resident and migratory birds are found on the lake. They include black-winged stilts, brahminy ducks, grebes, shell-ducks (European migrants), shovellers, teals, herons, red-wattled lapwings, rollers or blue jays, baya weavers, parakeet hoopoes, larks and swallows. Among reptiles, the monitor lizard ismost prominent.
The lake is also home to thousands of pea fowls, the highest number in any single habitat in the state. The nearby villagers and farmers are quite tolerant towards them.
Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.