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Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary

Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary

Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary, located just 44 kilometers east of Gorakhpur city, was established in 1990. Nestled in the Sant Kabir Nagar district, it stands as the largest natural floodplain wetland in Uttar Pradesh.

About Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary can be found in Uttar Pradesh, serving as the largest natural floodplain wetland in the eastern part of the state.
  • This sanctuary is essentially a freshwater marsh, meaning it’s a wetland that isn’t affected by tides and lacks dense forest cover. It’s an area filled with fresh water, frequently flooded by natural processes.
  • Established in 1980, Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary is safeguarded under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. It’s recognized as an “eco-sensitive zone,” extending about a kilometer around its boundaries to ensure additional protection.
  • The sanctuary serves as a crucial habitat for the state bird, the Sarus crane. Moreover, it acts as a wintering ground for more than 25 species of birds that migrate along the Central Asian Flyway. Notable among them are the endangered Egyptian vulture and the vulnerable greater spotted eagle.
  • Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary is also home to a variety of fish, including 45 different species. Among them are the vulnerable European carp, the catfish Wallago attu, and the near-threatened Gangetic ailia and silver carp.
  • The sanctuary plays a vital role in the conservation of these species, contributing to the overall biodiversity of the region. Its protected status ensures the preservation of this natural haven for both wildlife and the surrounding environment.

Key Points

With the addition of two new sanctuaries, the total number of protected wetlands in India has now reached 49, making it the country with the highest number of Ramsar sites in South Asia. In Uttar Pradesh alone, there are now 10 Ramsar sites:

  1. Upper Ganga River (Brajghat to Narora stretch)
  2. Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary (Unnao)
  3. Sandi Bird Sanctuary (Hardoi)
  4. Samaspur Bird Sanctuary (Rae Bareli)
  5. Saman Bird Sanctuary (Mainpuri)
  6. Parvati Arga Bird Sanctuary (Gonda)
  7. Sarsai Nawar Lake (Etawah)
  8. Sur Sarovar Lake/Keetham Lake (Agra)
  9. Haidarpur Wetland
  10. Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary (Sant Kabir Nagar)

Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in Sant Kabir Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, is especially important as it provides a safe winter habitat for many bird species from Central Asia.In addition to this, the National Wetlands Decadal Change Atlas on Wetlands of India was released on this occasion. Prepared by the Space Application Center (SAC) in Ahmedabad, this atlas highlights changes in wetlands over the past decade.

It’s worth noting that the Ramsar Treaty, an international agreement for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands, was signed on February 2, 1971, in Ramsar, Iran. To commemorate the importance of wetlands, World Wetlands Day is celebrated worldwide on February 2 each year. This year’s theme is ‘The Role of Wetlands for People and Nature,’ emphasizing the crucial role wetlands play in maintaining human and environmental health.

Ecosystem of the Sanctuary

  • Bakhira Lake in eastern Uttar Pradesh is a crucial wetland that serves as a breeding and nesting ground for a variety of migratory and resident birds.
  • Birds flock to this sanctuary from distant places such as Siberia, Tibet, China, and Europe, making it a diverse and vibrant hub for birdwatching.
  • Besides being a haven for birds, the sanctuary also hosts various species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.
  • The region’s plant life is marked by semi-arid vegetation and the distinctive aquatic plants found around the lake in the plains of North India.
  • Bakhira Lake supports a range of aquatic plants typical to the upper Gangetic system, contributing to the overall biodiversity of the area.
  • However, the sanctuary faces challenges as it reportedly has a relatively lower number of aquatic species due to the harsh climatic conditions and rocky soil.
  • The water bodies in Bakhira Lake are shallow and boggy, creating a unique habitat for the diverse wildlife that calls the sanctuary home.
  • The district receives an average annual rainfall of 1166 mm, sustaining the wetland ecosystem throughout the year.
  • Winter in the area is characterized by a mean minimum temperature of about 9 ºC and a mean maximum of 23 ºC, creating a favorable environment for both birds and visitors.
  • In the post-monsoon seasons, the relative humidity rises above 70%, providing optimal conditions for the diverse flora and fauna to thrive in the sanctuary.

Read Also: Climate Change Impacts on Salt Marsh Vegetation Ecophysiology

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