Country/territory: India

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4iii (2004)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 1,375 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2003 high not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
Hokarsar, a renowned waterfowl reserve, lies c. 10 km west of Srinagar on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway, on the banks of the Jhelum river. It is fed by the perennial Doodhganga, which makes its way through village Hajibabh, situated on its southeast, to meet the Jhelum. Another stream called Sukhang enters the area near village Narabal on the northwest, and ultimately drains directly into the Doodhganga near Sozeith village. The water table depends upon the discharge from the Doodhganga spill channel. In recent years, the water from this channel has been diverted for cultivation, resulting in reduced supply to Hokarsar Lake. Moreover, due to deforestation in the catchment area, silt is brought down by the river, threatening the very existence of this important waterfowl habitat. The lake reaches a maximum depth of 2.5 m in spring during snowmelt and a minimum of 0.7 m in autumn. The vegetation ranges from submerged, attached, free floating to emergent. Shallow areas support thick stands of Typha and Phragmites. Trapa natans, Nymphoides peltatum, N. candida and N. stellata occur in the open water areas. At least 156 species of phytoplankton have been recorded, with Chlorophyceae predominating. There are many floating gardens in the lake. Plantation of Salix alba has been taken up along the shoreline, while rice is grown in the surrounding areas. These crop fields also provide foraging areas for birds.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Hokarsar is an important wetland for both resident and migratory waterfowl. Hussain (1989) counted 64 species in and around the wetlands during bird ringing studies. The lake is particularly important as a wintering area for migratory ducks and geese, and as a breeding area for herons, egrets and rails. Up to 25,000 wintering ducks have been recorded at one time; the common species being Greylag Goose Anser anser (10,000), Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea (100), Common Teal Anas crecca (10,000), Northern Pintail A. acuta (15,000), Eurasian Wigeon A. penelope (7,000), Mallard A. platyrhynchos (15,000), Garganey A. querquedula (3,000), Gadwall A. strepera (5,000), Northern Shoveller A. clypeata (5,000), Common Pochard Aythya ferina (10,000), White-eyed or Ferruginous Pochard A. nyroca (1,000) and Red-crested Pochard Rhodonessa rufina (2,000). Many of these species are found in much greater numbers than the 1% of biogeographic population threshold determined by Wetlands International (2002). Breeding species include the Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis, Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus, Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax, Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Water Rail Rallus aquaticus, Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus and Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus. A small number of Common Crane Grus grus is also seen in some years. Among the globally threatened species, Pallas’s Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus is resident (Scott 1989). The Department of Wildlife Protection of the Jammu and Kashmir Government conducts annual waterfowl surveys (Bacha 2002). According to this survey report, on January 12, 2002, more than 3,70,000 birds were counted. There has been considerable increase in the waterfowl numbers since shooting was stopped.

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The Common Otter Lutra lutra is common in the lake, and other mammals known to occur in the Reserve include the Red Fox Vulpes vulpes and Jackal Canis aureus. The lake supports rich fish fauna including Cyprinus carpio, Crossocheilus sp., Barbus conchonius and Gambusia affinis.

Key contributors: M. A. Parsa, M. S. Bacha, M. R. Dar and G. M. Shah.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Hokarsar. Downloaded from on 06/10/2022.