Kanwar Lake - A dying Bird Sanctuary of Begusarai
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Kanwar Lake – The Asia’s largest oxbow lake

Kanwar Lake Bird Sanctuary of Begusarai, Asia’s largest freshwater oxbow, was once a heaven for migratory birds.

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Since Kanwar Lake is one of the quietest bird sanctuaries in India. Hence with pretty fewer tourist attractions, the place is ideal for bird watching and photography. 

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The early morning boat ride through this freshwater lake is spellbinding and eye soothing with its beauty and natural splendor.

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On the other hand, mesmerizing the bird watchers with several endangered and vulnerable species and birds. 

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At the Kanwar Lake, Bird Sanctuary tourists can come across several critically endangered species of birds that include Oriental White-backed Vulture, Long-billed Vulture, Greater Adjutant, Greater Spotted Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Sarus Crane, Darter Anhinga, Painted Stork and Black-bellied Tern.

About Kanwar Lake

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Kabar Jheel or Taal, as locally called, this lake is located 22 km North-West of the Begusarai town of Bihar.

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Kanwar lake is a notified area under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 and a Bird Sanctuary from 1989. It is also a protected zone by the Bihar state government from 1986.

The authorities had notified 15,000 acres in the area as a wetland. This makes Kanwar Lake bigger than the well known Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary of Rajasthan.
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This residual oxbow lake is due to the meandering of Burhi Gandak, a tributary of Ganga, in the geological past.

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The resident and migratory birds from Central Asia and Himalayan regions flock here every winter. In addition, the wetland supports a variety of flora and fauna around the year.
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Ornithologist Salim Ali mentioned about 60 migratory birds that come all the way from Central Asia in winter and recorded about 106 species of resident birds.

Why Alarming situation came for Kanwar Lake?

Kanwar, the largest oxbow lake in the world since a long time facing a number of issues.

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The lake is undergoing through a very certain change, like agricultural activities increasing at the boundary of the lake, losses of water logging area, etc.

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During rainy season though the excess water fromKanwar-Lake-2Ghumakkar the adjoining villages viz. Rajour, Jaimanglagarh increase the depth as well as the area of the lake. 

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But during winter and summer months water dries up, resulting in the sufficient shrinkage of the lake.

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The recent visit shocked us seeing the agricultural activity inside the lake. Even the buffer zone of the lake is now being used by humans for agriculture.
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Despite being the declared Bird Sanctuary by authorities, no rules applied here for stopping these activities.
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The ongoing trend shows these activities will increase year by year at the cost of the Kanwar lake.

Livelihood Issues

This dying condition of Kanwar lake is not only due to the administration’s loose attitude rather the locals are also playing a vital role.

The local farmers of this region want only 1,400 acres to be notified as a wetland area.

They also want the area to be developed as “Krishi-Evam-Pakshi Vihar”, where agriculture and bird habitat can be equally developed in an integrated manner.

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But on the other hand, the Sahnis—a class depending on the fisheries—want a canal should connect the lake and the river to be restored with this.

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This has brought them into direct conflict with farmers making this largest oxbow vulnerable one.

Why the conservation of Kanwar Lake is an utmost priority?

Kanwar lake is the largest Ox-Bow lake, wetland, and bird sanctuary.  Hence the conservation of this lake is very essential not only for its survival rather for maintaining the biodiversity of the complete region.

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The water level in the lake has reduced and heavy siltation and eutrophication have set in, causing the death of other organisms. The depth of water in the lake is now only a few meters and hence, the wetland has almost been converted into marshland.
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Weeds have spread across the marshy wetland, leading to the loss of the lake’s natural biodiversity.
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Extensive deforestation, overgrazing, unsustainable agricultural practices, and over-exploitation of biomass for fuel, fodder and timber purposes have stripped the land of its natural vegetation cover, resulting in erosion. Rich farmers are also extensively encroaching the lake bed. 
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How to reach? 

Kanwar lake or Kabar Taal is located 22 km north-west of Begusarai town of Bihar. The nearest city to the sanctuary is Begusarai while Patna is the closest local airport.

Best time to visit Kanwar Lake? 

The best time to approach the sanctuary is the time between October and June. During these months a number of migratory birds come all the way from Central Asia.

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Due to all this, the lake should come under the conservation activity of the government,
because of it the richest biodiversity area of that region. There are near about 109 local and Migratory Birds comes for their reproduction and for protection of their life.
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The most important and essential step for its conservation is to include this beautiful lake under the “Ramsar Convention”.
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Indian Government should take initiative for being its Ramsar Site. After being a Ramsar site it can surely be developed as an Eco-Tourism Spot and this will conserve the lake in a good manner too.
Apart from this, on an urgent basis, some sort of arrangements of water in the lake for the whole year should be made so that birds can stay here for a longer time.
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Same time a strong legal framework is needed for the protection of this notified area and its an urgent need here for intervention to save this lost paradise.
Happy Travelling !!

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