Keoladeo Ghana National Park (formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary) is located in the State of Rajasthan. It is India’s important wintering area for large numbers of aquatic birds. It is also well known for its large assembly of non-migratory resident breeding birds and therefore is an important bird watching site. Different species from far-flung areas and countries like Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Siberia and China visit the Sanctuary.
It is an important topic for the preliminary and the GS Paper 2 and GS Paper 3 paper of the mains stages of the IAS Exam. You should go through the list of important bird sanctuaries, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India, understand the difference between national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, study their habitats, geographical distribution, important species found there, rivers flowing through the national park or sanctuary etc.
Why is Keoladeo Ghana National Park in the News?
In order to observe and check the seasonal fluctuations in the movement of birds, the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (officially called the Keoladeo National Park) has taken up ringing of Oriental Darters after a period of 22 years. Ringing of birds with colourful bands will help in finding out their habit of reporting back at the nests used earlier by them and also aid the conservation of Oriental Darters. Ringing was carried out earlier mostly on the migratory birds to find out their routes of flight, stopover sites and breeding zones.
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Facts About Keoladeo National Park
- It was a duck-hunting reserve of the Maharajas earlier.
- It is an artificially created (1850) and maintained wetland site.
- It was declared a bird sanctuary on March 13, 1956.
- It was designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1981.
- It was declared a national park on March 10, 1982.
- It was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.
- It is home to more than 375 bird species.
- Sarus cranes, cormorants, peacocks, darters, owls, waterhens, the common coot, the purple sunbird can be seen in the national park. Other threatened avifauna species that are found here include Baer’s pochard, Dalmatian pelican, lesser and greater adjutants, cinereous vulture, spot–billed pelican etc.
- Animals like the Jackal, Bengal Fox, blackbuck, Chital, common palm civet, hog deer, sambar can be found here.
- As it is not a natural wetland, the main source of water to the national park is a temporary reservoir i.e., the Ajan dam. The dam gets water from the river Gambhir. Shortage of water is a problem in the park and the construction of the Panchana dam across the river Gambhir during the years 2003-04 has worsened the water problem in the national park.
- This is the only national park in India that is completely enclosed by a 2 m high boundary wall, which aims to minimise the possibilities of any encroachment, illegal activities and other biotic disturbances.
- The Keoladeo National Park is legally protected under the provisions of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The park is managed by the Rajasthan Forest Department with the help of local communities, national conservation organisations and other international bodies.
Threats to the Keoladeo National Park
There are various factors that threaten the habitat and species of the national park. Some of the factors include:
- Shortage of water in the park (source of water, its quantity and quality also affects the park).
- Invasive vegetation (Prosopis, Paspalum, Eichhornia)
Steps Taken to Improve the Habitat at the Keoladeo National Park
Various steps have been taken by the government with the help of the local villagers to restore and improve the habitat of the national park. Some of the measures include:
- Repair of wetland edges
- Deepening of water bodies
- Removal of invasive alien species eg: Prosopis juliflora, removal of african catfish etc