Ecological Profile of Sheosar Lake

1.0       Description of site

The Sheosar Lake is situated in Deosai Plains at coordinates 34, 99° N and 75, 24° E between the district of Astore and Skardu in the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) of Pakistan.  It is a fresh water lake constantly  sourced by glacial defrost, streams and spring waters, situated at an altitude of 4,153 m to 4,162 m covering an area of 131.19 ha (1.31 km²). The Sheosar is owned by the state and is under the Forest Lake Management of Deosai National Park in N.A. The lake in native language, Shina is called “Blind Lake”. It measures to be 1.4 miles (2.3 km) in length and 1.2 miles (1.8Km) across wide, average depth of lake measuring to be 40m (131 feet).

  Climate and Physiography

The climate is very intense, strong solar radiation received at high altitudes creates desert and dry region where as the winters brings in heavy snowfall, with freezing temperatures lasting for about 5-6 months in a year. Summers are mild and pleasant but very short. Daily temperatures vary from -20ºC to 12ºC; annual precipitation gauged is between 510mm to 750mm.

Ecological profile of Sheosar Lake

Ecological profile of Sheosar Lake

1.1.1      Land use

The land is used for agriculture and farming and also for provision of fodder for the domesticated cattle. The waters are used for dampening the farms soil, drinking and also in sanitation use and domestic purposes. The forest wood is used as burning fuel in daily use.

2.0          Demographic Profile

The 2 villages near the Sheosar are; Sher-Qulli and Satpara. Each one has a different dependence on the lakes resource of water and forest.

Language: commonly spoken in the two villages is Shina.

Occupation: community is drawn in agricultural activities, rearing and herding of livestock, tourism, personal business (proprietors, shop owner/keepers), recipients of remittances from foreign employed relative, employed at government institutes and private organizations also working as skilled or Un-skilled manual labor.

3.0       Ecological Profile

It is a meadow with rising and falling cover of wild grasses, herbs and plants. There is no tree and shrub cover as snow covers the area most of the year. Sheosar provides a great place for rest and grounds for migratory as well as the resident avian species.

3.1       Major Vegetation

Sheosar Lake and its surrounding area mass some 342 species of vegetation. A number of aquatic plants are present in the ephemeral small ponds such as Mare’s tail (Hippuris vulgaris), Fennel pond weed (Potamogeton pectinatus), and Pnodosus spp.

 3.1.1   Natural Vegetation   

Given that it lies above the tree-line, and ground cover is sparse in many areas, it has the appearance of a high, cold desert in many regions. Some species such as Sorosaris dysaie, Saussuria gnaphalodes, Saxifraga jacquemontiana, Aster flaccida, Rhodiola wallichiana, and Primula macrophylla, not only are able to colonize in this habitat, but flourish greatly.

3.2           Avifauna

Avian fauna is fairly diverse here with 40 species, recorded here of both migratory and resident nature; Ring-tailed Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus), Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), Himalayan Griffon Vulture (Gyps himalayensis), Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), Grey Himalayan snowcock (Tetraogallus himalayensis), Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus), Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea), Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus), Common Redshank (Tringa tetanus),  Brown-headed Gull(Larus brunnicephalus), Common Tern (Sterna hirundo), Snow Pigeon (Columba leuconota), Eurasian Cuckoo (Cucules canorus), Eastern Swift (Apus apus), Hoopoe (Upupa epops), Lesser skylark (Alauda gulgula), Horned skylark (Eremophila alpestris), Rosy Pipit (Anthus roseatus), Tree pipit (Anthus trivialis), Citrine wagtail (Motacilla citreola), Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), White wagtail (Motacilla alba), Robin Accentor (Prunella rubeculoides), Blue-Throat (Luscinia svecica), Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), Guldenstat’s redstart (Phoenicurus erythrogaster), Pied stone shat (Saxicola caprata), Chinese Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus affinis), Mountain Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus sindianus), Hume’s leaf warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus), Wall creeper (Tichodroma muraria), Tibet Raven (Corvus corax), Red-billed chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Yellow-billed chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus), Grey-headed Goldfinch (Carduelis cardeulis), Twite (Carduelis flavirostris), Red-fronted Serin (Serinus pusillus), Mountain Finch (Leucosticte nemoricola) Plain Mountain Finch Leucosticte nemoricola), Spotted-crowned Rosefinch Carpodacus rubicilla) andPine Bunting (Emberiza leucocephalos).

3.3           Ichthyology

Snow trout and Brown Trout are the two major types of fish species found in the Sheosar. The Lake has both the endemic as well as exotic fish species.  The endemic or indigenous species include; Snow trout (Schizothorax plgiostomus) and Tibetan/High altitude loach (Triplophysa stoliczkae) while the exotic species found in the Lake is Brown trout (Salmo trutta fario).

Large Mammals

Sheosar has 3 species of large mammals existing in its location; Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos) of the given status as critically endangered has been known to survive here with aide of human efforts. Weasel (Mustela altacia) and Stoat (Mustela erminea) are seen despite the fact that information on their population statistics is barely studied.

3.4           Small Mammals

In Sheosar, 13 small animals were observed. Numbers of Long-tailed marmot (Marmota caudata), Mountain burrowing vole (Hyperacrius fertilis) andChinese birch mice (Sicista concolor) are the highest. Other creatures found in competition here are; Tibetan red-toothed shrew (Sorex thibetanus), Abbott’s high mountain shrew (Crocidura pergrisea), Himalayan white-toothed shrew (Crocidura. Pullata), Ermine (Mustela erminea) Himalayan pika (Ochotona roylei), Royals’ high mountain vole (Alticola royali), Wood mouse (Apodemus rusiges) andTurkistan rats (Rattus turkestanicus). Flying bats are represented by; Small Kashmir flying squirrel (Eoglaucomys fimbriatus), and Pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus).

 Amphibians and Reptiles

Only 2 species have been verified; Asian-lazy frog (Scutiger occidentalis)is commonly foundand Glacier skink (Scincella ladacensis) occurs in abundant form.

4.0       Primary and Secondary Stakeholders

The real players at this location are;

4.1 The local Villagers and Community

The villagers’ draw most  from here; area being under provided in fuel gas supply leads to an overall reliance on the forest tree wood, use of cow manure/peat/shrub as fuel to  light stoves is carried out, pastures are  subjugated to grazing of cattle and agriculture.

4.2       Government (Forest)

The government stands accountable for the management and protection of these resources; the locals are given concessions, although it lacks strict check and measures, the demands by populations increase has worsened the picture of withdrawing high yields unlawfully.

4.3       Tourism

The business of tourism continues to swell, degrading the surroundings by discarding waste which puts enormous pressure on the delicate mountain environment; pollution, disturbance, and transport influx, vacationers’ use of vehicles off the track on the pastures is ruining the location.

5.0          Major Issues and Threats

Mass tourism is major issue threatening Sheosar Lake to a great extent, with no genuine management; these anthropogenic activities are distorting the original scenic landscape; solid waste disposed, and pollution of waters of this wetland and entry of foreign population into this fragile ecosystem, over grazing in grassland pastures remain open, to further wear and tear down.

6.0          Recommendations

  • Promote Eco-tourism with seriousness and consciousness with knowledge of the importance of unique and fragile biodiversity and mountain ecosystems’
  • Monitoring and checking of the area should be strictly done to prevent overgrazing and wood cut for fuel use.
  • Train people how to enhance the environment by taking it as individual responsibility and play a part in betterment of the sensitive environment.
  • 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.

This Article is Written by “Zahor Ul Haq” Author At Envirocivil.com

 

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