Pangong Lake

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Pangong Tso Kashmir

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Location: 33’50’N, 78’35’E; on the Chinese border, 100 km ESE of Leh, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
Area: 65,000 ha (about one-third in India, the remainder in the People’s Republic of China)
Altitude: 4218 m
Biogeographical province: 2.38.12
Wetland type: 12,16

Description of site: Pangong Tso is a long, narrow, brackishwater lake spanning the Indian/Chinese border, in a high mountain valley in the upper drainage basin of the Indus river, at the east end of the Karakoram Range. Only the westernmost third of the lake lies in Indian territory. The lake is actually a chain of four interconnecting water bodies and is probably of very recent origin, having been formed by natural damming of the valley. Five rivers, fed by perennial springs and snow-melt, flow into the Indian portion of the lake; the outlet at the west end flows northwest into the Shyok river, a tributary of the Indus. There are some brackish to saline marshes near the western end, with adjacent wet meadows

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 20°C

Principal vegetation: Brackish to saline marshes and alpine meadows at the west end of the lake. The lake itself is reported to be devoid of macro-vegetation. Surrounding hillsides support low, thorn scrub and perennial herbs
Land tenure: The lake and most of the surrounding areas are state-owned (Jammu & Kashmir)

Conservation measures taken: The entire lake is protected in a reserve, and all shooting of wildlife is strictly prohibited
Conservation measures proposed: The State Government intends to declare an area of 400,000 ha in eastern Ladakh as a High Altitude Cold Desert National Park. The existing Pangong Reserve would be incorporated within this National Park

Land use: Local people graze their yaks and horses on the marshes and meadows, and harvest the grasses for fodder
Disturbances and threats: The current level of grazing already exceeds the carrying capacity of the land, and is resulting in soil erosion. Domestic livestock cause some disturbance to nesting birds
Economic and social values: The marshes provide important grazing land for the local people. The region has considerable potential for scientific research and tourism although, at present, access to the area is restricted. The lake itself has a considerable modifying effect on the local micro-climate

Fauna: An important breeding area for a variety of waterfowl, including Tadorna ferruginea. Anser indicus occurs in significant numbers on migration and may breed. The surrounding hills support a rich assemblage of Himalayan and Tibetan wildlife, including the wild ass (Equus hemionus)

Special floral values: None known
Research and facilities: Some research has been carried out on the breeding ecology of Grus nigricollis

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