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Top five largest Ramsar sites in India

  • Category
  • Published
    30th Oct, 2019


Following are the top five largest Ramsar sites in India:

Sr No.

Ramsar site


Designation year

Area (in sq. km.)


Sunderbans Wetland

West Bengal




Vembanad Kol Wetland





Chilka Lake





Kolleru Lake

Andhra Pradesh




Bhitarkanika Mangroves




  • Sunderbans Wetland:
    • Sundarban Wetland is located within the largest mangrove forest in the world, the Sundarbans that encompasses hundreds of islands and a maze of rivers, rivulets and creeks, in the delta of the Rivers Ganges and Brahmaputra on the Bay of Bengal in India and Bangladesh.
    • The Indian Sundarban, covering the south-westernmost part of the delta, constitutes over 60% of the country’s total mangrove forest area and includes 90% of Indian mangrove species.
    • The Sundarban Tiger Reserve is situated within the Site and part of it has been declared a “critical tiger habitat” under national law and also a “Tiger Conservation Landscape” of global importance.
    • The Sundarbans are the only mangrove habitat which supports a significant population of tigers, and they have unique aquatic hunting skills.
    • The Site is also home to a large number of rare and globally threatened species such as the critically endangered northern river terrapin (Batagur baska), the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), and the vulnerable fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus).
    • Two of the world’s four horseshoe crab species and eight of India’s 12 species of kingfisher are also found here. The uniqueness of the habitat and its biodiversity, and the many tangible and intangible, local, regional and global services they provide, makes the Site’s protection and management a conservation priority.
  • Vembanad Kol Wetland:
    • It is the largest brackish, humid tropical wetland ecosystem on the southwest coast of India, fed by 10 rivers and typical of large estuarine systems on the western coast, renowned for its clams and supporting the third largest waterfowl population in India during the winter months.
    • Over 90 species of resident birds and 50 species of migratory birds are found in the Kol area. Flood protection for thickly-populated coastal areas of three districts of Kerala is considered a major benefit, groundwater recharge helps to supply well water for the region, and the value of the system for the local transport of people and trade is considerable.
  • Chilka Lake:
    • It is a brackish lake separated from the Bay of Bengal by a long sandy ridge and subject to sea water exchange, resulting in extreme seasonal fluctuations in salinity in different sections of the lake. Saline areas support aquatic algae.
    • The site is an important area for breeding, wintering and staging for 33 species of waterbirds.
    • It also supports 118 species of fish, including commercially important species. Significant numbers of people are dependent upon the lake's resources.
    • Placed on the Montreux Record in 1993 due to problems caused by siltation and sedimentation which was choking the mouth of the lake; removed from the Record in 2002 following rehabilitation efforts for which the Chilika Development Authority received the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award for 2002.
  • Kolleru Lake:
    • It is a natural eutrophic lake, situated between the two major river basins of the Godavari and the Krishna, fed by two seasonal rivers and a number of drains and channels, which functions as a natural flood balancing reservoir between the deltas of the two rivers.
    • It provides habitat for a number of resident and migratory birds, including declining numbers of the vulnerable Grey Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis), and sustains culture and capture fisheries, agriculture and related occupations of the people in the area.
    • Damage and losses due to flooding in monsoon seasons and partial drying out during summers, the results of inadequate management planning and action, are the areas for improvement.
  • Bhitarkanika Mangroves:
    • It is one of the finest remaining patches of mangrove forests along the Indian coast.
    • 25 years of continued conservation measures have made the site one of the best known wildlife sanctuaries.
    • The site's Gahirmatha beach is said to host the largest known Olive Ridley sea turtle nesting beach in the world, with half a million nesting annually, and the site has the highest density of saltwater crocodile in the country, with nearly 700 Crocodylus porosus.
    • It is a major breeding and wintering place for many resident and migratory waterbirds and is the east coast's major nursery for brackish water and estuarine fish fauna.
    • Like many mangrove areas, the dense coastal forests provide vital protection for millions of people from devastating cyclones and tidal surges - of India's 58 recorded species of mangroves, 55 species are found in Bhitarkanika, a wider mangrove diversity than in the Sundarbans!
    • Traditionally, sustainable harvesting of food, medicines, tannins, fuel wood, and construction materials, and particularly honey and fish, has been the rule, but population pressures and encroachment may threaten that equilibrium.|

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