Ecological Profile of Lake Saif Ul Malook

Saif ul Malook is a large reservior located at coordinates 34° 52′ 37.34″ N and 73° 41′ 37.71″ E in district Manshera, Kyber Pukhtoon Khwa. It lies at an altitude of 3,224 m (10,578 feet). The lake is spread over an area of 12,026 acres (48.7 km²). The sink is sourced by various springs, streams and annual rainfall, while the mount Malika Parbat snow melts is its biggest supplier. The climate is primarily dry where rainy season is mainly between March and May, snowfalls between December and February. Hottest month usually is August, with calculated average temperature of 12.2°C. January usually is the coldest of month in a year, temperatures falls below freezing i.e. to -6.9°C. Five months (December to April) remain below 0°C. The average rainfall received is more than 150 mm. The land foremost is made available for growing of crops and vegetables, provides food for livestock, woody plant species are a good source of fuel wood and construction of house thatch. Dry branches and stems of Common juniper (Juniperus communis) and Willow (Salix. sp) are collected for fire wood. Several herbs with medicinal properties are extracted by the village locals in large quantity The 2 main villages chosen are; Delsehri and Langrah with population of 1,560 people and 2,700 people likewise. The mass population is underprivileged, i.e. poor = 48%, middle=50% and rich are 2%. The people are employed as daily wages labourers in business and tourism. Farming crops, cattle rearing and herding, employed in government departments and as proprietors loaning to tenants for agriculture puposes. Main laguages spoken are Hindko, Pashtoo, Gojree and Urdu.

profile of saif ul malook

Sub-Alpine mountainous ecosystem includes pastures with growth of curative plants, wildlife, glaciers and countryside view. Lake Saif-ul-Malook, is shaped by a fusion of cover of grasses, grass-like plants, herbs and shrubs. This vegetation along the hills and around the lake provides an excellent habitat for rich flora and fauna. Species well represented in the sub-alpine are; blue pine, fir and birch among trees; and Junipers, Rosa, Berberis, Willow (Salix) and Cotoneaster among shrubs. Many grasses, grass-like forbs and other plants are also found. Common Juniper (Juniperus communis) patches are found all over the pastureland on rocky ridges. Willow (Salix) occupies depressions on cooler aspects. Buck wheat (Polygonum) are usually visible in the pasture. Iris form more or less compact patches distributed all over the area, giving the impression of pure stands. Butter cup (Potentilla) and the Astragalus herb vegetation is intertwined. The region provides grounds for resting/breeding of avian fauna; 51 species have been sighted and White wagtail (Motacilla alba personata), Yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava), Black red-start (Phoenicurus ochruros), Plain mountain finch (Leucosticte nemoricola) were the most commonly observed bird species. Predatory birds were presented by Black kite (Milvus migrans) and Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus). The statistics of species scarcely in attendance are; Green necked bunting (Emberiza buchanani), Rufus-tailed rock thrush (Monticola saxatilis) and White throat dipper (Cinclus cinclus). The Lake Saif Ul Maluk and its tributaries have five fish species in all and only two of them have the economic importance. The economically viable species are the Brown Trout (Salmo trutta fario) and  Schizothorax plagiostomus where as the other three species are the Glyptosternum reticulatum Triplophysa kashmirensis, Schistura alepidota.

 

The large mammals known to be found in the area are; Common leopard, Black bear (Ursus thebitansus), Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Asiatic jackal (Canis aureus), Wolf (Canis lupus) and Rabbit (Lepus sp).  Kashmir Markhor and the Himalayan Ibex  are seen at the high ridges in winter season. Saif-ul-Malook maintains a good number of small mammals, of these 10 species found here are Himalayan pika (Ochotona royalii), Mountain borrowing vole (Hyperacrius fertilis), Wood mouse (Apodemus rusiges), House mouse (Mus musculus) and Royals’ high mountain vole (Alticola royalii) is most common. Long-tailed marmot (Marmota caudata), Himalayan white- toothed shrew (Crossidura pullata) are abundant while Weasel (Mustela altaica) is least common. The mammals in flight glimpsed at dusk are; Whiskered-bat (Myotis mystacinus) and Lesser horse-shoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros) with fairly sufficient figures. Almost six species of the Amphibians and reptiles are found in the vicinity of the lake, which include the Scincella himalayana, Laudakia himalayana, Bufo peudoraddei pseudoraddei, Laudakia agrorensis, Laudakia tuberculata and Spalerosophis atriceps.

Resources from the nature to a large extent are used by the people living in the neighboring environment. Lake is exploited as a grazing land and for plant cropping;deficient gas service leads to in general dependence on forest wood and use of cow manure/peat as fuel to inferno stoves.

The management and protection of these resources comes under the care of government department of forest and wildlife, although with petite check and measures, with the ever ascending population demands there is a visible destructive affect on the forest tree covers. At Lake Saif-ul-Malook tourism continues to inflate, hastening degradation of the environment by disposing of solid waste which lodges enormous strain on the delicate mountain ecology; noise/air/water pollution, inescapable human commotion and transport incursion to this area.

 

Major Issues and Threats

Saif-ul-Malook wetland faces an enormous danger; grasslands consumed by excessive livestock foraging, grazed land unfastened for wear down/ soil erosion, increased load of fuel/fire wood requirement; destroys the natural forest habitat. Tourism activity creates a hostile environment; with no overseer, checks or measures to safeguard the frail mountain ecosystem.

Recommendations

  • Pollution due to tourist activity be prevented, by putting up billboards of notices of not disposing waste in the area, hefty fine should be kept as penalty.
  • Encourage and involve community to help prevent pollution of the lake it self
  • Educate the community on the importance of biodiversity and sustainable use of resource.
  • Prevent human activity in the wildlife rich areas by constant check and monitors.
  • Train people how to enhance the environment by taking it as individual responsibility and play a part in betterment of the sensitive environment.
  •  Monitoring and checking of the area should be strictly done to prevent overgrazing and wood cut for fuel use

 

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