Waterbird numbers at high altitude lakes in eastern Ladakh, India

Tsewang Namgail, Divya Mudappa, T R Shankar Raman


The unique high altitude (> 3,500 m a.s.l.) brackish and freshwater lakes of the Ladakh region, India, are used as breeding grounds and staging sites by migratory waterfowl and waders. A survey of the abundance and diversity of birds at four lakes in eastern Ladakh in July 2007 found that the diversity of birds in these lakes (Tsokar, Statsapuk Tso, Thasangkaru Tso and Tsomoriri) was relatively low. Eleven species were identified, ranging from the widespread Common Redshank Tringa totanus (590 individuals) to the highly endangered Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis (three individuals). Among the four lakes, bird abundance and diversity was highest in Statsapuk Tso and Tsokar, respectively, and lowest in Thasangkaru. The importance of the lakes for waterbird conservation in Ladakh is discussed in relation to environmental changes in the area.

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