Year of compilation: 2004
AVIFAUNA: The Basai wetlands harbour a rich avifauna; no less than 239 species have been recorded since February 2001. In 5 days in September 2001, 154 species of birds were recorded during a BNHS bird ringing camp. Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris, Sarus Crane Grus antigone, Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina hastate and Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni are threatened species that have been recorded at the site. Near Threatened species include the Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus, Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala, Black-headed Ibis or Oriental White Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus, Asian Dowitcher Limnodromus semipalmatus and Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus. A Black-necked Stork pair breeds in the vicinity of Basai. It was seen with juvenile in the year 2001 (B. Harvey pers. comm. 2002). At its peak, the wintering Bar-headed Goose flock has reached 1,100, while the peak spring and autumn passage brings up to 5,000 ducks of 18 species and 10,000 waders of 36 species. Number of many species is much above the 1% threshold estimated by Wetlands International (2002). For example, the 1% biogeographic threshold of Bar-headed Goose is 560, while at Basai, almost double this number have been seen. Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis exceed 1,000 in certain months and breed in Basai village. Flocks of Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus and Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio regularly exceed 200 birds. The latter together with Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis, Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus and Yellow Bittern I. sinensis breed in the reedbeds. Unusual wintering species include Water Rail Rallus aquaticus and Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris while Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla and Moustached Warblers Acrocephalus melanopogon winter in numbers significant for NW India and may even breed. There is a winter roost of several thousand Yellow wagtails Motacilla flava and Citrine Wagtails M. citreola. The Sind Sparrow Passer pyrrhonotus (a recent colonist of Haryana) has recently been sighted in this roost in September (B. Harvey pers. comm. 2003). The Basai wetlands easily fit A1 (Threatened Species) and A4i (1% population threshold) criteria. Although, at one time, it may not have = 20,000 waterbirds (A4iii criteria), much more than 20,000 birds use this IBA in a year. The Basai wetlands have also shown that with protection, even a sewage waterspread could attract thousands of waterbirds. This is particularly important as most of natural shallow wetlands of the Gangetic plains have been drained for cultivation or polluted and we need to create new wetlands and restore the natural ones.
OTHER KEY FAUNA: A breeding herd of up to 14 Nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus is regularly seen, whereas Indian Mongoose Herpestes edwardsii and Jungle Cat Felis chaus commonly occur. There are numerous water snakes and amphibians in the permanent swamps.
If the water channel breach is stopped and the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) extend their housing project west of the railway, it would constitute a major threat to the wetland. Current agricultural practices are beneficial as they create a variety of wet habitats and do not threaten the core wetland. Grazing is particularly beneficial, as it keeps the grass short and suitable for grazing geese and ducks. Most of the local villagers are very proud of “their” birds and do not harm them. However, shooting and trapping at night has been a problem in winter, but the police have apprehended the culprits. The site is not under any formal protection although it comes under the jurisdiction of the Sultanpur National Park. Signboards in Hindi emphasize the penalties for shooting the birds. However, the site faces immense pressure due to the increasing demand for land in its vicinity.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Basai wetlands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/02/2020.