Officials appeal for eco-tourism development for Chatlam Wetland – home to over 50,000 birds
Pampore: The serene landscapes of the four Pampore Wetlands have become the temporary abode for over one lakh migratory birds. This mesmerizing congregation of avian visitors has been warmly embraced by the local community, marking their arrival as a harmonious celebration of nature’s abundance.
Parvaiz Yousuf, the Director of the Wetland Research Centre at the Wildlife Conservation Fund, has sounded a clarion call for urgent attention to the development of eco-tourism in Pampore’s Chatlam Wetland. Home to over 50,000 birds, this wetland serves as a sanctuary, highlighting the critical need for sustainable initiatives to preserve and showcase the region’s rich ecological diversity.
Yousuf commended the people of Pampore for their hospitality towards these migratory guests, a trait well-known in their interactions with tourists and visitors. Speaking exclusively to Kashmir Reader, Yousuf underscored the significance of the four exquisite wetlands in Pampore—Chatlam, Fashkoori, Meanbugh, and Krunchoo. These wetlands, acting as interconnected satellite ecosystems, form a cluster of picturesque landscapes.
Migratory birds typically commence their annual arrival to Pampore in October, with their numbers gradually increasing. By mid-November, the influx reaches its zenith, sustaining high activity levels through December and January. As April approaches, these migratory birds embark on their journey back to their native habitats. The avian congregation consists of both migratory and resident birds, with approximately 90 to 95 percent undertaking arduous migrations from places like Syria, China, and Russia. The wetlands in Pampore, especially Chatlam Wetland Reserve, play a pivotal role as crucial waypoints in the migratory journey of these birds along the Central Asian flyway.
Presently, Chatlam Wetland hosts more than 50,000 bird species, representing diverse avian life. Species include Mallard (Pachen), Gadwall (Budan), Northern Shoveler (Honk), Northern Pintail (Sokh Pachen), Green-winged Teal (Kuispoot), Greylag Goose (Anz), Ferruginous Duck (Kaacxur Budan), among many others, each with a distinct Kashmiri name. This avian diversity attracts researchers, wildlife enthusiasts, and tourists who flock to Pampore to observe and capture these birds through photography.
Reflecting on the progress made in the conservation efforts of the wetlands over the past decade, Yousuf credited the local community’s robust support. He emphasized the crucial responsibility now lying with the government to develop the wetland as an eco-tourist spot, creating employment opportunities for locals and actively participating in ongoing conservation endeavors.
Sajjid Farooq, Range Officer of Lakes Wetland Division, provided an update on the current status of migratory birds in the Pampore wetlands. With over one lakh migratory birds presently in the region, stringent protection measures have been implemented to safeguard against poaching. A dedicated protection force, along with an Anti-Poaching Team in collaboration with the Forest Protection Force, conducts regular patrols during both night and morning shifts to ensure the well-being of the avian visitors.
The vibrant avian activity in the Pampore wetlands stands as a testament to the region’s ecological richness. However, the urgency for eco-tourism development in Chatlam Wetland, as advocated by Parvaiz Yousuf, echoes the need for sustainable initiatives that promote both conservation and economic development.
Eco-tourism, if strategically implemented, has the potential to transform the wetlands into an official tourist destination. This, in turn, would provide the local community with increased livelihood opportunities, generating satisfaction and active engagement in the ongoing conservation efforts. The government’s role is pivotal in fostering the development of Pampore’s wetlands as a sustainable and ecologically responsible tourism hotspot.
The confluence of migratory and resident birds in Pampore’s wetlands not only offers a visual spectacle but also provides an invaluable opportunity for ecological education and research. Parvaiz Yousuf’s efforts to document the avian diversity through his book, “Birds of Jammu and Kashmir including Ladakh,” underscores the need for comprehensive resources to enhance understanding and appreciation of the region’s avifauna.
The current ecological marvel in the Pampore wetlands is a testament to the delicate balance between nature and human stewardship. The urgent call for eco-tourism development serves as a beacon for sustainable initiatives that can harmonize conservation efforts with economic development, ensuring the thriving ecological diversity of this remarkable region.