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P-17 January 2005 5th November 2015

PONG DAM WETLAND A SAFE DESTINATION FOR MIGRATORY BIRDS Pong Dam

Wetland popularly known as Ramsar site has been recognized Internationally as one of the finest and largest manmade wetlands of North India situated in the Dhauladhar mountain ranges of Himachal Pradesh. Known as an outstanding town of paradise for birds watchers, the wetland has rich bio-diversity with meagre forests round the Pong Dam Wetland having several tree species which serve as edible fruits for the migratory birds. Keeping in view the natural beauty of the wetland, the area has been developed as national wetland and has been included in the list of Internationally known wetlands. The main tree species of the tract having attracton of the birds are Acacia, Jamun, Shisham, Mango, Mulberry, Ficus, Kachanar, Amla and Prunus. Apart from these tree species, a variety of shrubs, grasses and climbers are also found in these forests. The main wildlife species found here are Nilgai, Samber, Barking deer; Wild boar, Clawless otter and Leopard. The Pong Dam lake support more than 220 bird species belonging to 54 families (taxonomically in India about 77 bird families occur). It is an important wintering area for a large number of black headed Gulls, Brahminy ducks, Bar headed geese, Plovers, Grebes, Cormorants, Daters, Herons, Moorhens, Egrets and Storks etc. The first sighting of red necked Grebe in India was reported from the Pong dam Wetland. Migratory birds census and ringing of birds through Bombay Natural History Society was conducted during December, 2003. This year about 1,35,958 migratory birds of different species visited the area. Pong Dam has become centres of attraction for the bird watchers due to the presence of about 70 demoiselle cranes, which have visited this area for the first time and that too in the off-season. A large variety of fish such as Mahasheer, Katla, Miror carps, Rohoo, Singhara etc. are found in the Pong Dam Lake and its tributaries. A total of 27 fish species belonging to 5 families have been recorded. The commercial fishing in the Wetland was initiated soon after the emergence of wetland. It provides direct employment to about 1500 fishermen. Keeping in view the importance of the Wetland, State Government has put special emphasis on the development of the area. Pong Task Force has been created under the chairmanship of Forest Minister for integrated development of the area. Different stake holders are the members of said Task Force viz. BBMB, Forest, Wildlife, Tourism, District Administration, Animal Husbandry, Pollution Control Board. In order to tap the eco-tourism potential of the Pong Dam Wetland, a blue print of plan with special emphasis on encouragement to private entrepreneurs has been prepared. Important development activities like soil conservation works; habitat improvement works and development of Ranser Island have been carried out in the Wetland. Local people were associated for effective patrolling of the wetland area against poaching. The steps initiated by the Himachal Pradesh Government to ensure complete protection of the migratory birds, which has chosen the Pong Dam Wetland as their permanent habitat, has started yielding results. About 1500 winged birds such as common pochards, coots, cormorants, barheaded geese, grey herons, pintails, tufted ducks, open build starkes and common teals had preferred to stay back this year. Around 5000 tourists visited the bird sanctuary during last winter and most of them came to watch migratory birds for the first time. Efforts are being made to attract more tourists to the Pong Dam. Awareness and Information facilities in the sanctuary area are being strengthened for protecting the environment and safety of rare migratory birds from poaching. Local people have also been associated in the task to ensure better management of the sanctuary area.

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