In news– A recent notice by the state government of Manipur to remove/dismantle all ‘athaphums’ (circular fish culture ponds) and huts on ‘phumdis’ (floating organic mass) from the lake has evoked a sharp reaction from the fishing community and homestay operators.
About Loktak Lake-
- The largest freshwater lake in Northeast India, the pristine Loktak Lake((ancient supervolcanic caldera)) is located about 40 kilometres south of Imphal in Manipur.
- The etymology of Loktak is Lok = “stream” and tak = “the end” in Meitei language (Manipuri language).
- The lake is known for its floating circular swamps, which are called phumdis in the local tongue.
- These swamps look almost like islands and are a mass of soil, organic matter and vegetation.
- The lake houses the only floating national park in the world, the Keibul Lamjao National Park, which is the last refuge of the endangered brow-antlered deer or sangai, Manipur’s state animal.
- In addition, the lake shelters about 230 species of aquatic plants, 100 types of birds and 400 species of fauna like barking deer, sambar and Indian python.
- Loktak is a visual treat for birdwatchers, who can find species like black kite, East Himalayan pied kingfisher, northern hill myna, lesser eastern jungle crow, Burmese pied myna and lesser skylark.
- The lake covers 61 per cent of the total identified wetlands of the state.
- It serves as a source of water for hydropower generation, irrigation and drinking water supply.
- Considering the ecological status and its biodiversity values, the lake was initially designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on 23 March 1990.
- It was also listed under the Montreux Record on 16 June 1993, “a record of Ramsar sites where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring or are likely to occur”
Keibul Lamjao National Park-
- It is a national park in the Bishnupur district of the state of Manipur in India.
- It is 40 km2 (15.4 sq mi) in area, the only floating park in the world and an integral part of Loktak Lake.
- The national park is characterized by floating decomposed plant material locally called phumdi.
- It was created in 1966 as a wildlife sanctuary to preserve the natural habitat of the endangered Eld’s deer (Cervus eldi eldi). In 1977, it was gazetted as national park.
- Two thirds to three fourths of the total park area is formed by phumdis.
- A waterway through the park provides year-round access by boats plying through the Loktak Lake, to the Pabot Hill in the north.
- The distinctive nature of the park is that it is too deep to be marsh, too shallow to be a lake.
- It is an endemic and endangered subspecies of Eld’s deer found only in Manipur, India. It is also the state animal of Manipur.
- Its common English name is Manipur brow-antlered deer or Eld’s deer and the scientific name is Rucervus eldii eldii.
- Its original natural habitat is the floating marshy grasslands of the Keibul Lamjao National Park.
- IUCN status- Endangered.