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India adds a high-altitude wetland complex to the Ramsar List

  • India adds high-altitude wetland complex to the Ramsar List
    Tso Kar Wetland Complex. Credit: Siddharth P, 2020

About the entity

Ramsar
The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
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India has designated its 42nd Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Site). Tso Kar Wetland Complex (Site no. 2443 on the List of Wetlands of International Importance) is found at more than 4,500 metres above sea level in the Changthang region of Ladakh.

The complex includes two connected lakes, the freshwater Startsapuk Tso and the larger hypersaline Tso Kar; it presents a notable example of two such lakes existing in close proximity. The name Tso Kar refers to the white salt efflorescence on the margins of the lake caused by the evaporation of the saline waters. The local climate is arid, and glacial meltwater is the primary water source for the lakes.

The lakes and in particular the presence of fresh water attract biodiversity in a biologically sparse region. Inhabiting the Site are numerous threatened species including the endangered saker falcon (Falco cherrug) and Asiatic wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus laniger), and the vulnerable snow leopard (Panthera uncia). The Site also acts as an important stopover ground for migratory birds along the Central Asian Flyway and is one of the most important breeding areas in India for the black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis).

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