Mathura, 2019.03.09 (VT): The Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary located in Agra District (part of Greater Braj) of Uttar Pradesh, will soon be declared a Ramsar Site. Named after the great poet-saint Surdas, who is said to have been born within its boundaries, Sur Sarovar was declared a Sanctuary in the year 1991.
Spread across an area of 700 hectares, it includes the fresh water wetland popularly known as Keetham Lake (300 ha.).
The decision was taken by senior forest officials at a meeting held in Lucknow on Thursday.
A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands – an intergovernmental treaty that provides a global framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
Patna Vihar Bird Sanctuary (108 ha.) in Jalesar sub division of Etah district and Saman Bird Sanctuary (5.25 sq.km) in Mainpuri district of Uttar Pradesh were also considered for nomination. However, of the three, only Sur Sarovar could meet the prescribed criteria for a Ramsar Site.
Once the nomination is approved by the Environment Ministry, Sur Sarovar will become the second Ramsar Site in the state, after Narora (Bulandshahr district).
The Brijghat to Narora stretch covering an area of 265.9 sq. kms in the upper Ganga region, was designated as the first Ramsar Site from UP on November 8, 2005.
Over the years, Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary and Keetham Lake have become a thriving habitat for migratory and resident birds.
According to the official website of UP Forest and Wildlife Department, during summer, the Sanctuary becomes the favoured destination for Comb Duck, Spot-billed Duck, Lesser Whistling Teal, Storks – painted, open bill, black-necked, woolly-necked, Herons – Grey, Purple and night, Egrets – large, medium, little and cattle, Cormorants – great, Indian Little Shag and Darter. It also supports the Sarus Crane population of the area during this period.
A huge heronry of colonial nesting birds develops every year in the bird sanctuary, the presence of which has been recorded since 1990. In the year 2008, more than 5000 nests were counted. The nesting activity by 14 heronry species (4 types of egrets, 3 types of cormorants, 3 types of herons, Open Bill Stork, Darter, White Ibis and Spoonbill) makes it a unique asset of Uttar Pradesh.
Besides this, resident ducks like Comb duck, Spot Billed Duck, Lesser Whistling Teal and many other woodland birds also nest in this area.
Situated on the Delhi-Agra Highway (170 km from Delhi and 30 km from Agra), Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary is an important birding destination for ornithologists. The visiting season lasts from November 15 to June 30; with the best time for sighting being Nov-March.
The Ramsar treaty is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem. The Convention was signed in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975. Since then, 169 countries, almost 90% of UN member states from the entire world’s geographic regions have acceded and become contracting parties.
As of 2016, there were 2,231 Ramsar sites, protecting an area of 214,936,005 hectares (531,118,440 acres). There are total 27 recognized Ramsar Sites in India.