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Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary is spread over an area of 12,082 ha and is one of the largest shallow freshwater lakes in India. It has been proposed as a Ramsar Site. The Sanctuary lies in the semiarid districts of Ahmedabad and Surendranagar in north Gujarat. The Lake has an elliptical basin with a gentle slope. It is very shallow, with a maximum depth of 3 m and has about 360 islands scattered in it. The shoreline of the lake is barren and is surrounded by dry land and some crop fields (Singh 2001). Nalsarovar is also a very popular site for tourists and birdwatchers. Nalsarovar is a typical temporary shallow wetland, generally seen in dry areas. About 50 species of algae and over 72 species of aquatic plants including Vallisneria, Ceratophyllum and Chara have been recorded from the area (Singh 1998). This vast shallow wetland does not have much emergent vegetation. In drought years, it remains dry for most part of the year.
AVIFAUNA: About 250 species of birds have been recorded of which 158 species are waterbirds. Over 2,24,000 birds were recorded in 1992 and over 1,41,000 birds in 1996 in censuses conducted by the Forest Department (Singh 2001). Threatened bird species include the Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus, Pallas’s Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus, Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis and others. Some common species of birds are the Coot Fulica atra, Northern Shoveller Anas clypeata, Northern Pintail Anas acuta, Wigeon Anas penelope, Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber and Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala. This site has been selected mainly on the basis of congregatory criteria (A4) as more than 20,000 waterfowl are found when rainfall is normal. As the area is vast, so species-wise population estimates are not easy. Nevertheless, many ducks and waders are found in much larger numbers than their 1% biogeographic population threshold estimated by Wetlands International (2002). As Nalsarovar falls in the migratory route, hundreds of thousands of birds stop over before spreading out in the rest of Gujarat (and other parts of India). Therefore, we have included it under A4iv criteria also, i.e. the site is known or thought to exceed thresholds set for migratory species at bottleneck sites.
OTHER KEY FAUNA: The Sanctuary also supports a herd of Wild Ass Equus onager during summer. Wolf Canis lupus, Hyena Hyaena hyaena, Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Indian Fox Vulpes bengalensis and Jungle Cat Felis chaus are also recorded in the area. About 20 species of fish have been recorded from the area (Singh 2001).
Key contributors: H. S. Singh and the IBA team.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Nalsarovar Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/02/2023.