SAVING the Ramsar site is important because it harbours a range of wildlife, particularly animals, birds, reptiles and insects, which all have tremendous benefits.
The Rann of Kutch is geographically the widest Ramsar site spread over 566,375 hectares out of all 10 identified Ramsar sites in Sindh. Besides, the Ramsar site, in 1980 it was also declared a wildlife sanctuary by the Sindh government.
This sanctuary is supporting nature’s richest ecosystem. It provides food and shelter to a number of migratory and local wildlife species. The marshy Rann of Kutch, with its surrounding Thar desert area in Sindh, is one of the most potential habitats for a number of animals and birds in the province.
This area is known to be a breeding ground for flamingoes and staging ground for pelicans, cranes, storks and many species of waterfowl. It is also an important site for animals like blue bull, chinkara and desert wolf, which have been sighted over here regularly. The site supports many species of birds and mammals which are locally and globally threatened. The site is also a wintering area for water birds. It is estimated that this wetland regularly supports over 40,000 water birds.
The marshy habitat is most attractive for water bird species such as common teal, shell duck, mallard, pochard, flamingo and pelican. Occasionally, the range of other species has also been seen in the outskirts of the site. These include peafowl, sarus cranes, houbara bustard and the peregrine and saker falcons.
Furthermore, the area has its unique identity among one of the five famous eco-ranges of Pakistan. Out of seven routes for migratory birds in Central Asia, the Indus green route passes through the Thar desert, making it more important zone from wildlife perspective.
According to the 1997 survey of the Sindh Wildlife Department, Tharparkar was found suitable to be declared as the National Park. The fauna of Tharparkar, among many others, has peacocks, vultures, sparrows, crows, chinkara, deer, partridge, bustards, rabbits, jackals, wolves, antelopes, hawks, owls, spiders, nightjars, spotted sand grouse, desert foxes, golden jackals, striped hyenas and mongoose.
Also, among water birds, the white stork and the black ibis are reportedly found in Tharparkar. In the district, various reptiles including snake, for example khapar, Indian cobra, are common in the rainy season in large numbers. Moreover, there are a range of insects in the desert including ‘meeh ja mama’ (a red and silky insect appears in desert soon after rains has wide medicinal use in alternative medicines), ants, gyingha, besides frogs and rats.
Although anciently the area was rich in fauna, most of it is now on the brink of extinction. Like every year, this year also the hunting of antelopes, deer and other wild animals and birds is common in Tharparkar, while the uncontrollable fatal disease in peacocks of Thar has left nearly 100 birds dead.
The authorities concerned should to take immediate measures to rescue the endangered wildlife resource of Tharparkar. The authorities concerned should conduct surveys for head counting of all species available in the area for future planning related to the betterment of the species. Also, the government should declare the area as a national park and take all appropriate measures to further foster the wildlife in Rann of Kutch as Ramsar site and wildlife sanctuary.
ASHOK SUTHAR Tharparkar