Tamil Nadu has the most Ramsar wetland sites in India now

With 4 more sites receiving the coveted tag on 13 August, the state now has 14 wetlands of global importance, overtaking UP.

ByPrasanna R S

Published Aug 16, 2022 | 8:37 AM Updated Feb 22, 2023 | 5:17 PM

Tamil Nadu now has 14 Ramsar sites in Tamil Nadu. Photo of Vaduvur bird sanctuary

Four more sites in Tamil Nadu received the Ramsar tag on 13 August 2022, taking the total number of such wetlands of international importance in the state to 14, overtaking Uttar Pradesh, which has 10 such areas.

The official Ramsar website does not yet have the names of the Chitrangudi, Vaduvur, and Kanjirankulam bird sanctuaries, and the Suchindram-Theroor wetland complex in Tamil Nadu in its list of wetlands.

However, the sites have indeed been recognised by Ramsar, Beom-Sik Yoo, Senior Advisor, Asia/Oceania at the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands, Switzerland, confirmed to South First.

“They have been designated as wetlands of international importance. The Ramsar Site Information Service will be updated accordingly in due course,” the Ramsar official said.

14 Ramsar sites in Tamil Nadu, up from 1 on 25 July 2022

When this author visited Point Calimere (Kodiakkarai) and the Udhayamarthandapuram bird sanctuary in December 2021–January 2022, the former was the sole Ramsar site in Tamil Nadu and the latter had not yet received the “wetland of international importance” tag.

On 26 July 2022, three sites in the state were recognised as Ramsar wetlands. They were the Pallikaranai marsh in Chennai, the Karikili bird sanctuary, and the Pichavaram mangrove forests near Chidambaram.

Related: A trip to Udayamarthandapuram bird sanctuary amid heavy rains

Vaduvur bird sanctary i

Vaduvur bird sanctary in Tamil Nadu, one of the new Ramsar sites in the state (Tiruvarur district government website)

Around a week later, on 3 August 2022, six more wetlands in Tamil Nadu received the tag. They were the Koonthankulam, Vedanthangal, Vellode, and Udhayamarthandapuram bird sanctuaries, Vembannur wetland complex, and the Gulf of Mannar marine biosphere reserve.

Jayshree Vencatesan of the NGO Care Earth Trust, which has worked with the government in filing the Ramsar Site Information Sheet (RIS) for many of the wetlands, had then explained to South First the reason for the turnaround in Tamil Nadu.

Now the four new sites have been added to the list, taking the total number of Ramsar wetlands in Tamil Nadu to 14.

Also read: Pichavaram is a Ramsar site, but not 2nd-largest mangrove in world, Asia, or even India

List of 14 Ramsar sites in Tamil Nadu

The 14 Ramsar sites in TamilNadu are:

1) Point Calimere (Kodiakkarai) wildlife and bird sanctuary (Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, and Thanjavur districts)

2) Pallikaranai marsh reserve forest (Chennai and Chengalpattu districts)

3) Karikili bird sanctuary (Chengalpattu and Kanchipuram districts)

4) Pichavaram mangroves (Cuddalore district)

5) Koonthankulam bird sanctuary (Tirunelveli district)

6) Vedanthangal bird sanctuary (Chengalpattu district)

7) Vembannur wetland complex (Kanniyakumari district)

8) Vellode bird sanctuary (Erode district)

9) Gulf of Mannar marine biosphere reserve (Bay of Bengal, extends between Thoothukudi and Ramanathapuram districts)

10) Udayamarthandapuram bird sanctuary (Thiruvarur district)

Udhayamarthandapuram bird sanctuary, one of the 14 Ramsar sites in Tamil Nadu

A visit to the Udhayamarthandapuram bird sanctuary, which was given the Ramsar wetland tag recently, on a rainy day. (Prasanna RS/South First)

11) Chitrangudi bird sanctuary (Ramanathapuram district)

12) Kanjirankulam bird sanctuary (Ramanathapuram district)

13) Suchindram-Theroor wetland complex (Kanniyamumari district)

14) Vaduvur bird sanctuary (Thiruvarur district)

For a map of all the 75 Ramsar sites in India, including the 14 in Tamil Nadu, click here.

How many Ramsar sites in India?

India now has 75 Ramsar wetlands of international importance.

Apart from the four sites in Tamil Nadu, seven other wetlands in India have received the Ramsar tag now. They are the Thane creek in Maharashtra, Tampara and Ansupa lakes, and Hirakud reservoir in Odisha, Hygam and Shallbugh wetland conservation reserves in Jammu and Kashmir, and Yashwant Sagar in Madhya Pradesh.

This was part of the push to ensure India had 75 wetlands of international importance by its 75th year of Independence.

The Convention on Wetlands, an inter-governmental treaty, was signed in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971.

(The article was updated on 22 February 2023 with a list of all the 14 Ramsar sites in Tamil Nadu)