Hanle River Kashmir

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Hanle River in Kashmir

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HANLE RIVER MARSHES

Location: 32°55’N, 78’55’E; west and north of Hanle village, near the Chinese border, 180 km southeast of Leh, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
Area : Western marshes c.7,500 ha plus a 500-m wide strip along the Hanle river
Altitude: 4250-4350 m
Biogeographical province: 2.38.12

Description of site: A complex of fast-flowing streams, stagnant pools, saline marshes, seasonally flooded marshes, and bogs along the Hanle river above its confluence with the Indus. The Hanle river flows through a wide, sandy plain with seasonally flooded marshes and grasslands. Several small streams debouch into the river, giving rise to a complex of pools, bays, and inlets. The wetlands are frozen from November to March, and are fed by snow-melt in summer

Climatic conditions: Arid, high plateau (Tibetan) climate, characterised by marked differences between sun and shade, and night and day temperatures. The average annual rainfall is 76 mm, and the temperature range, -40°C to 30°C

Principal vegetation: The freshwater pools shelter species of Hydrilla, Myriophyllum, Potamogeton, and an edible aquatic lichen. The marshes and meadows support Myricaria elegans and species of Carex and Caragana. Surrounding hillsides are sparsely covered with low, thorn scrub and perennial herbs

Land tenure: Partly state-owned (Government of Jammu & Kashmir) and partly under private ownership. The privately owned areas include lands belonging to the Hanle Buddhist Monastery
Conservation measures taken: Shooting is totally prohibited
Conservation measures proposed: The Jammu & Kashmir State Government intends to declare an area of 400,000 ha in eastern Ladakh as a High Altitude Cold Desert National Park. This would incorporate the marshes of the Hanle river
Land use: Livestock grazing in the marshes, and water supply to Hanle village and the monastery
Disturbances and threats: The human population in the valley is increasing, and the concomitant increase in livestock population, particularly yaks, is intensifying grazing pressure on the marshes

Economic and social values: An important grazing area for domestic livestock and the venue for various Tibetan Buddhist festivals

Fauna: An important breeding area for a variety of waterfowl, including one or two pairs of black-necked cranes (Grus nigricollis) and many Tadorna ferruginea and Tringa totanus. Breeding passerines include Melanocorypha maxima and Motacilla spp.

Special floral values: A hitherto unknown edible, aquatic lichen was discovered in the marshes in 1980
Research and facilities: Some research has been carried out on the marsh flora and the breeding black-necked cranes

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