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Location India, Jammu & Kashmir
Central coordinates 74o 42.00' East  34o 26.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4iii
Area 2,400 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society



Site description Wular Lake and its associated marshes lie on the floodplains of the River Jhelum in the Kashmir Valley. It is designated as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1990. It originally occupied an area of 20,200 ha but has now shrunk to a mere 2,400 ha. The lake has an elliptical boundary, with a maximum length of 16 km and width of 7.6 km. It is about 34 km northwest of Srinagar, 3 km from Sopore town. The name Wular is derived from the Sanskrit word volla, meaning turbulent, a reference to the high waves one encounters while crossing the lake during certain months. Wular was one of the largest freshwater lakes of South Asia. It plays an important role in the hydrology of the Kashmir Valley, due to its huge capacity to absorb the annual flooding. The Wular Lake is surrounded by high altitude mountain ranges on the northeast and northwest sides. Due to its particular topography, Walur lake faces strong winds. There is considerable dispute about the size of this lake. As per the Directory of Wetlands of India, the area has been shown to be only 189 ha, while the Survey of India maps indicate the lake area to be 5,870 ha in winter of 1978. According to a study, the area at maximum flood level has decreased from the original 27,300 ha to 17,000 ha. The revenue records show that the lake area is 13,000 ha (Baba, undated). Wular Lake is heavily overgrown with macrophytes. The margins are covered with Typha, while Phragmites, Nymphoides pellata, N. alba, Nelumbo nucifera and Trapa natans cover the shallow zones. Villagers harvest some of these species for food. Salvinia and Lemna cover the surface. A total of 82 species of phytoplankton, and 50 species of zooplankton have been reported. The shallows parts also bear stands of Willow Salix alba.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Pallas's Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Wular Lake Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 18,900 unknown 0  

Habitats

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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
Notes: Agriculture
fisheries/aquaculture -
Notes: Fisheries
rangeland/pastureland -
Notes: Grazing
tourism/recreation -
Notes: Tourism and recreation
water management -
Notes: Water management

Acknowledgements Key contributors: M. M. Baba and A. Wani.

References 

Ali, S. and Ripley, S. D. (1987) Compact Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan (Second Edition). Oxford University Press, Delhi.

Baba, M. M. (undated) Conservation of Wular Wetland: Ramsar Site- 2001-2005. Department of Wildlife Protection, Jammu and Kashmir Government, Srinagar.

BirdLife International (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: The BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Loke, W. T. (1946) A bird photographer in Kashmir. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 46: 431-436.

Ward, A. E. (1906-1908) Birds of the province of Kashmir and Jammu and adjacent districts. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 17: 108-113, 479- 485, 723-729, 943-949; 18: 461-464.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Wular Lake and associated marshes. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/08/2014

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