Shandur Lake is formed at an elevation of 3,738 m with rock-strewn mountains of Hindukush on the eastern and western side. It lies at 36º 11′ latitude and 72º 46′ longitude on the world’s atlas in Ghizer district, Northern areas of Pakistan. The lake covers an area of 1 square mile (2.6km²) which is sourced by various streams generating from snow melts, springs and occasional rainfall. Lake in 1993 was pronounced as the national park, and the Shandur pass extending near 644 km² invites a large crowd to the annual game of polo.
The climate remains dry mostly and the rainfall begins generally between March and May, the winters are severe and long, extending form September to April, snowfall appears in December and February. Shandur Lake falls under the mountain desert ecosystem where the average rainfall seldom goes over 150 mm.
The land mainly a pasture; provides grazing cover for the locals’ cattle and for cultivating particular crops like wheat, maize and potatoes. Lake water is channeled to lands for moistening at lower elevations than the lake itself.
The 3 villages around the lake are namely; Barsat, Surlaspur and Terru,
Language: Chitrali (Khwar).
Population: poor =37%, middle = 49% and rich =14%
Occupation: Agriculturist, livestock herders, government employees (operation of transport), private employed, skilled and unskilled labourers and business, shop keeping, mass tourism etc
Poverty ratio: major of the population is very poor.
Shandur Lake lay in a mountain desert ecosystem provides an excellent place to home waterfowl.
The natural forest is of Greek Juniper (Juniperus excellsa), Birch (Betula utilis), and Willow (Salix spp.)
The natural forest is of Juniper (Juniperus excellsa), Birch (Betula utilis), and Willow (Salix spp ) are chopped for the consumption in heating and stoves, and is mainly surrounded by pastureland formed by various kinds of grasses, herbs shrubs and bushes.
At Shandur Lake 39 birds recognized are by name given as; Gadwall (Anas strepera), Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus), Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea), Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus), Common Redshank (Tringa tetanus), 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), White browed wagtail (Motacilla maderaspatensis), Yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava),Kashmir house martin (Delichon dasypus), Rosy Minivet ()Common Dipper (Cinclus cinclus), Brown Dipper (Cinclus pallasii) Brown Accentor (Prunella fulvences), Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris), Black-breasted Ruby throat (Luscinia pectoralis), Guldenstat’s Redstart (Phoenicurus erythrogaster), Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) Stone chat (Saxicola torquata), pied stone chat (Saxicola caprata), Common wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe), Chinese Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus affinis), Mountain Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus sindianus),Brooks’ Leaf warbler (Phylloscopus subviridis), Grey-headed Goldfinch (Carduelis cardeulis), Twite (Carduelis flavirostris), Red-fronted Serin (Serinus pusillus)Plain Mountain Finch (Leucosticte nemoricola) and Pine Bunting (Emberiza leucocephalos).
Shandur is without any fish in its waters, yet again the experts’ view for this lake as well is that Brown (Salmo trutta fario) or the Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) can be raised here.
The animals sighted during the survey were 5 species, the visibly noticed species were the; Weasel (Mustela altacia) and Stoat (Mustela erminea), where as the Snow leopards (Uncia uncia) presence in the area was figured out by various physical evidences, where this creature is Red-Listed endangered provided by the IUCN. Also in the Red-List is the threatened Lynx (Felis lynx) and Stone marten (Martes foina) are known to struggle for their existence here.
Species of small mammals were 11; Migratory hamster (Cricetulus migratorious) is abundantly found in these pastures followed by the Royals’ high mountain vole (Alticola roylei). The other species identified to survive here are; Himalyan white-toothed shrew (Crocidura. Pullata), Mounatin Burrowing Vole (Hyperacrius fertilis), Stoat (Mustela erminea), Weasel (Mustela altacia), Himalayan Pika (Ochotona royalei), Cape hare (Lepus capensis), and Long- tailed marmot (Marmota caudata) and Hemprich’s Long-eared Bat (Otonycteris hemprichi).
Out of 7 amphibian and reptilian species, alone 2 species of Swat green toad (Bufo pseudoraddei pseudoraddei) holding status abundant and Himalayan rock agama (Laudakia himalayana) common were collected from the lake.
The villagers are chief drawing processes of natural resources here. Area being deficient in any facility of fuel gas supply has cost to an overall want of forest tree wood from the plantation in the private possessions, and use of cow manure as fuel for stoves, pastures for foraging cattle and land for agriculture.
The government is responsible for the management and protection of these resources, although with check and measures the population increase has distorted the look, of high yields to meet the ever increasing demand.
Tourism industry is expanding in multitude, degrading the surrounding by waste accumulation, noise/water/solid waste pollution, human activities interruption and transport and foreign population inflow swarming the area focusing on draining modest resources.
Major Issues and Threats
The escalating apparent and acknowledged strains to Lake Shandur are; mass tourism as an external factor threatening the area at large scale, which goes without any administration, care or concern to manage the solid waste, water pollution of this wetland and foreign population entry to such a fragile ecosystem, over grazing on grassland pastures, leaving severely grazed land open to deterioration.
- 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.