Ranganathittu, a Ramsar site now
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Ranganathittu, a Ramsar site now

August 4, 2022

By M.T. Yogesh Kumar

Mysore/Mysuru: The over six-year wait is over and the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary near Srirangapatna in Mandya District has been declared a Ramsar site, underlining its status as a wetland of international importance.

Ranganathittu is Karnataka’s first Ramsar site that fulfils the criteria as defined by the Ramsar Convention. The announcement was made last evening by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

Along with Ranganathittu, 10 more bird sanctuaries and wetlands in India were declared as Ramsar sites, taking the total number of such sites in India to 64. The Ramsar list aims at developing and maintaining an international network of wetlands, which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life, through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits.

The convention to protect wetlands was signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971. Member countries, including India, under the convention, identify the sites which can be of significant value for their eco-services and rich biodiversity. The wetlands — land areas covered by water, either seasonally or permanently — play a key role in flood control and as sources of water, food, fibre and raw materials.

International recognition

Being designated a Ramsar site does not necessarily invite extra international funds but the State and the Centre must ensure that these tracts of land are conserved and spared from man-made encroachment. Acquiring this label also helps with a locale’s tourism potential and its international visibility.

Deputy Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Dr. V. Karikalan said that as a Ramsar site, Ranganathittu would gain international recognition. “We have been trying for this for over six years as Ranganathittu met three to four of the nine criteria of Ramsar pertaining to local flora, fauna, and ecology. This will help further boost bird conservation at Ranganathittu along with the supporting biodiversity,” he said.

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A rare and rich ecosystem

The 67-hectare Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary was declared in 1940 and is located in the midstream of River Cauvery. It is an integral part of the wetland system and now spreads across 517.70 hectares including the place where the River flows and surrounding wetlands.

Ranganathittu has 25 islands and finds a place in the Important Bird Areas (IBA) list of 42 sites in Karnataka that are identified by the Bombay Natural History Society. The Sanctuary is home to 188 species of plants, 225 species of birds such as Asian openbill, spot-billed pelican and black-headed ibis, 69 species of fish, 13 species of frogs, 98 species of medicinal plants and 30 species of butterflies.

It houses a healthy population — over 200 — of mugger crocodiles, smooth-coated otters and the endangered hump-backed mahseer fish. Many forest officers, who served in Mysuru earlier and who are still serving in Mysuru have strived to get the Ramsar site recognition for Ranganathittu. They include present DCF (Territorial) K. Kamala Karikalan, DCF (Wildlife) Dr. V. Karikalan, V. Yedukondalu, Siddaramappa Chalakapure, Alexander and Dr. K.C. Prashanth Kumar.

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