IN087
Kaj Lake (Pipalava Bandharo)


Year of compilation: 2004

Site description
Kaj Lake is situated 10 km eastward of Kodinar town in Junagadh district. It is a tidal regulatory dam constructed by the Irrigation Department, Government of Gujarat in 1995. The name of the site on government record is ‘Pipalava Bandharo’ (Bandharo = earthen dams erected to harvest rainwater). The lake is bordered by three villages: Nanavada, Pipalava and Chikhli. Maximum depth of the lake is 2 m. During the high tide, particularly on full moon and no moon days, tidal water from the Arabian Sea touches the dam. Thus, one side of the dam is a large, shallow freshwater lake with moderate vegetation and on the other side the tidal mudflat attracts thousands of waterfowl in winter. The maximum water is seen during July and August and minimum during March when the lake is totally dry. As the farmers of surrounding villages drain the water to irrigate their crops from October onwards, the lake almost dries out by the end of February or March. The farmers use diesel engine or submersible water pumps to draw the water. The village Kaj is about 8 km from the lake which is also known as Kaj Nu Talav. The main occupation of the villagers is agriculture. Cotton, groundnut, sugarcane, sorghum, maize and millet are cultivated. Typha and Cyperus are the common emergent vegetation. The vegetation cover is moderate. The surrounding area has sparse stands of Prosopis chilensis. Sedges and grasses are found on the islands and margins of the lake. Scattered shrubs of Zizyphus and Capparis are also seen in the surrounding area.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: About 40 species of birds were observed by Indira Gadhvi (pers. comm. 2003). The wetland regularly harbours more than 20,000 birds during winter, thus it fulfills A4iii criteria. At least two globally threatened species are seen here every winter, so it also qualifies A1 criteria. Besides this, four Near Threatened species have been seen till now, and more are likely to occur. Wetlands International (2002) has recently published new waterbird population estimates. The A4i criteria of BirdLife International (undated) states that any site which has =1% of the biogeographic population of a congregatory waterbird species could be considered as an IBA. The Kaj Lake easily qualifies this criteria as it has more than 1% population of five species. The Common Crane Grus grus can be mentioned here, although with a maximum number of 675 seen in January 2003, it does not strictly hold 1% population threshold (Wetlands International estimates 1% population threshold as 700).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: There is no mammal of great conservation concern. Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Jungle Cat Felis chaus, and Nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus are the commonly seen in the area.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: Draining of water in peak migratory season; Invasion by Prosopis chilensis; Grazing; Poaching.

This wetland suffers from the litany of problems that beset other wetlands in India - overgrazing in the catchment area resulting in siltation, spread of invasive species and drainage of water when bird populations are at their peak in winter. As this is an irrigation reservoir, and the villagers have the right to use water for irrigation, not much can be done. As Saurashtra regularly suffers from drought, it becomes difficult to stop draining of whatever water is collected for irrigation. The welfare of birds always comes second. The only way by which villagers could be persuaded to keep some water is through conservation education and bird related tourism. If the villagers see great benefit accrued through tourism, they would be willing to save some water for the birds.

Acknowledgements
Key contributor: I. R. Gadhvi.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kaj Lake (Pipalava Bandharo). Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/01/2022.