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Location India, Jammu & Kashmir
Central coordinates 78o 19.00' East  32o 53.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 20,000 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Tso Morari in eastern Ladakh is the largest of the high altitude Trans-Himalayan lakes situated entirely within Indian territory. The lake formerly had an outlet to the south, but has now become landlocked, because of which the water is now brackish to saline. The lake is fed by streams and snowmelt from two major stream systems, which create extensive marshes when they enter the lake. The lake is frozen from November to April. Small islands near the north and south ends are important for breeding waterfowl. The lake is bounded by mountain ranges with peaks exceeding 6,500 m. On the north and east sides, the lake is bounded by the hills of the Tibetan cold desert. The western side is bordered by steeper peaks exceeding 5,500 m. The Pare Chu river, which originates about 40 km upstream of the lake, flows along the southern side. Between Tso Morari in the north, and the Pare Chu in the south, lies the Nuro Sumdo wetland, covering an area of about 2,000 ha (Mishra and Humbert-Droz 1998). There does not appear to be any vegetation in the deeper parts of the lake, but shallow areas have some Potamogeton. Various species of sedge and rushes grow in the marsh, notably Carex. Caragana and Astragalus spp. characterize the steppe vegetation. Juncus thomsonii and Leontopodium sp. are also found.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus 2004  present  A4i  Least Concern 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca unknown  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis breeding  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Tsomoriri Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 12,000 unknown 0  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland   -
Wetlands (inland)   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture
tourism/recreation -
Notes: Tourism
urban/industrial/transport -
Notes: Transport; Urban settlements


Mishra, C. and Humbert-Droz, B. (1998) Avifaunal survey of Tsomorari Lake and adjoining Nuro-Sumdo wetland in Ladakh, Indian trans- Himalayan. Forktail 14: 65-67.

Pfister, O. (1998) Breeding ecology and conservation of the Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) in Ladakh / India. (Thesis) University of Hull, Hull / UK.

Pfister, O. (in press) Birds and Mammals of Ladakh.

Stattersfield, A. J., Crosby, M. J., Long, A. J. and Wege, D. C. (1998) Endemic Bird Areas of the World: Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation. BirdLife Conservation Series No. 7. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Wetlands International (2002) Waterbirds Population Estimates: Third Edition. Wetlands International Global Series No. 12. Wageningen, The Netherlands.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Tso Morari Lake and adjacent marshes. Downloaded from on 21/09/2014

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