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Location India, Punjab
Central coordinates 74o 59.00' East  31o 9.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A4i, A4iii
Area 8,600 ha
Altitude 0
Year of IBA assessment 2004

Bombay Natural History Society

Site description Harike Lake is a shallow water storage reservoir created by the construction of a barrage at Harike in 1952, at the confluence of the Sutlej and Beas rivers. It covers an area of approximately 14,800 ha in the open water. About 33 islands are scattered throughout the lake. The water depth varies from 1.2 m to 4.2 m. More than 50% of the water area is thickly covered by Water Hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes. The lake is surrounded by agricultural land and is the main source of water for the Indira Gandhi (Rajasthan) Canal. The lake is triangular in shape, with its apex in the west, a bund called Dhussi Bund forming one side, a canal the second and a major road the third. Harike lake is a vital source of fish to Punjab (WWF, undated). The National Committee on Wetlands, Mangroves and Coral Reefs of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has identified Harike Lake as one of the wetlands for special conservation action and management. This artificial water body is heavily infested with Water Hyacinth that forms floating islets throughout the lake. Thick stands of Typha are found at the margins. The embankments have been planted with Dalbergia sissoo, Acacia nilotica, Zizyphus, Ficus and Prosopis chilensis.

Key Biodiversity 

AVIFAUNA: Harike Lake was designated as a Ramsar site on account of its importance as habitat for large number and diversity of waterfowl (Ladhar et al. 1994). The lake is an important staging and wintering area for migratory waterfowl. Over 20,000 ducks have been counted at the peak of the migratory season. Flocks of 2-3 thousands Redcrested Pochard Rhodonessa rufina, Common Pochard Aythya ferina and Tufted Pochard Aythya fuligula are not uncommon. A study conducted by the Bombay Natural History Society (1980-85) recorded 167 species of resident and migratory birds. Scaup Duck Aythya marila, Falcated Teal Anas falcata and the globally threatened White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala have been reported. The updated list (Harvey, 2002) consists of 358 species, including some very old records such as the Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax that has not been seen in India for the last five decades or more. The open water zone is very important for Near Threatened Darter Anhinga melanogaster. More than 100 have been counted in some years (Prakash, et al. 1997). The Wetlands International (2002) calculate that its population in South Asia would be about 4,000 and declining. Its 1% biogeographic population threshold is 40. It number in Harike is more than 2% of its population. Similarly, many ducks are seen in more than 1% population threshold at Harike. Therefore, this site also qualifies A4i criteria, i.e. the site is known to or thought to hold, on a regular basis, =1% of a biogeographic population of a congregatory waterbird species (BirdLife International, undated).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: Sinha (1997) reported 16 mammalian species from this IBA site out of which the Smooth Indian Otter Lutra perspicillata requires conservation measure. Other mammals present at the site include Jungle Cat Felis chaus, Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Wild Boar Sus scrofa, and Common Mongoose Herpestes edwardsi. Fresh water turtles include Kachuga tecta and Lissemys punctata andersoni. About 26 species of fish have been recorded from the lake.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca unknown  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala winter  2004  present  A1  Endangered 
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala resident  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus resident  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus resident  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster resident  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
Pallas's Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca winter  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris non-breeding  2004  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Indian Skimmer Rynchops albicollis breeding  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Bristled Grassbird Chaetornis striata resident  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Kashmir Flycatcher Ficedula subrubra passage  2004  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2012 high favourable medium
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - unintentional effects (species is not the target) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high

Wetlands (inland)   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Harike Lake Sanctuary 8,600 is identical to site 8,600  
Harike Lake Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 4,100 unknown 0  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - aquatic   -
Artificial - terrestrial   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
Notes: Fishing
rangeland/pastureland -
Notes: Grazing
water management -
Notes: Water management

Acknowledgements Key contributors: Bill Harvey, Satnam Singh Ladhar and Prakash Rao..


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

Harvey, B. (2002) Harike Checklist-Febraury 2002. Delhi Bird Club. Unpublished.

Ladhar, S. S., Chauhan, M., Handa, S. M. and Jerath, N. (1994) Ramsar Sites of India: Harike Lake, Punjab.World Wide Fund for Nature-India, New Delhi. Pp. 41.

Prakash, V., Mahapatra, K. K. and Chaturvedi, N. (1997) Species composition, population and distribution of aquatic birds in Harike Wildlife Sanctuary, Punjab. Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai. Pp 15.

Sinha, N. K. (1997) An account of mammals of Harike Lake, Punjab. Cheetal 36 (1-2): 46-54.

WWF (undated) WWF -Fact Sheet. Harike Wetland: Punjab. World Wide Fund for Nature-India and Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India.

Wetlands International (2002) Waterbird Population Estimates - Third Edition. Wetlands International Global Series No. 12. Wageningen, the Netherlands.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Harike Lake Bird Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016

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