Weekend trip to Chilika Lake – India
by Katja Goertz
This weekend we went from Bhubaneswar to Rambha, a small place on the side of Chilika Lake. It is around 120 km away from Bhubaneswar. Chilika is a brackish water lagoon on the east coast of India, covering an area of over 1,100 km2. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the world.
The lagoon has a high ecological importance due to its unique ecosystem. It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl on the Indian sub-continent and one of the hotspot of biodiversity in the country. Some rare, vulnerable and endangered species listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened animals inhabit in the lagoon for at least part of their life cycle. On account of its rich biodiversity, Chilika was designated as a «Ramsar Site» in 1981. The Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971) — called the «Ramsar Convention» (http://www.ramsar.org) — is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies the commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance and to plan for sustainable use, of all of the wetlands in their territories. The Chilika Development Authority is responsible for the restoration of the ecological characteristics of the site. In 2002 they won the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award and Evian Special Prize for not only increasing the biodiversity, but also increasing the fish catches and other socio-economic benefits to the local population.
Beside this Chilika Lake is a quite famous tourist destination mostly for Indian tourists. The main attractions are boot tours to several small islands in the lagoon. During the tours you can watch the fishermen, the birds or relax while looking on the water and the beautiful landscape. With luck it is also possible to spot green sea turtles and dolphins. A really nice place!
Further information about the Ramsar site and the activities of the Chilika Development Authority can be found on the website http://www.chilika.com.