Sunday, September 14, 2008

Palak Dil.

We at Samrakshan and Forest Department of MADC did contribute towards having Palak Lake (Pala Tipo or Palak Dil) included in "Potential and Existing RAMSAR sites in India" a book by M Zafar Ul Islam and Asad R Rahmani. The same has been released by the Vice President of India recently at New Delhi. According to the authors " Under the Important Bird Areas Programme (IBA) of the BNHS and BirdLife International we have prepared a list of additional 135 wetlands which are potential Ramsar Sites. This exercise is done objectively taking into consideration IBA and Ramsar criteria. We have identified potential Ramsar Sites mainly based on their biodiversity values, which was the original aim of the Ramsar Convention. We have also tried to cover the whole country and all biogeographic regions and their provinces. "

We share some relevant details.

State: Mizoram
District: Saiha
Coordinates: 22º 20' 25" N, 92º 56' 33" E
Altitude: c. 270 m
Rainfall: > 2,000 mm
Temperature: 7 ºC to 30 ºC
Biogeographic Zone: North-East
RAMSAR Criteria: 1 (Wetland is representative and unique wetland)
IBA Criteria: A3 (Biome 9: Indo-Chinese Tropical Moist Forest)
RAMSAR Wetland Type: O (Permanent freshwater lake)

Palak Dil.

The Mizoram state has three types of (natural) lakes: valley lakes, tectonic/landslide lakes and artificial reservoirs, but the only lake of significance is Palak Dil, which is a natural lake in a depression in the hills. Palak Dil may possibly be a combination of valley and tectonic lakes. Locally in Mizoram, lakes are called dils. There are many such dils scattered all over the state, but they are tiny pools or marshy depressions such as Rengdil, Tamdil and Mampui Dil (Choudhury 2002). The Palak Lake is situated within the Mara Autonomous district Council, which is a region inhabited by the Mara Tribe. The Maras are distinct from the majority Mizos and in the Mara language the Palak lake is referred to as Pala Tipa.

The Palak Dil, the largest lake in Mizoram is situated about 100 Km from the district headquarter of Saiha and situated within the Tuipang sub division. The dimension of the lake is 400 m x 600 m, and depth is about 13 m (Datta-Roy et al. 2007). Two small mountain streams flow into the lake, and one streams flows out, ensuring a constant supply of fresh water. The forest around the lake is Tropical Wet Evergreen. Many of the nearby hills are covered by jhum (slash and burn cultivation), bamboo brakes as well as woody vegetation. An interesting feature of the forests surrounding the lake is the presence of low lying swamps which transform in to shallow lakes during the monsoon. The lake is surrounded by moderately steep hills. The area has Dipterocarp-dominated Tropical Evergreen Forest. The forests are rich in palms, rattans, dense cane-brakes and reeds along the lake margin (Birand and Pawar 2001).

The lake has many myths and legends attached to its origin and is also revered and feared by the locals as an abode of evil spirits. The taboos have, however, been diluted over the years and now-a-days people from the adjoining villages visit the lake to catch fish regularly (Datta Roy et al 2007).

The closest human settlements are the villages of Phura (6 km) and Tokalo (7.5 km). Access to the lake is through Phura which is located about 100 km from Saiha, the district headquarters.
The lake is situated within the land (locally referred to as Rum) of Tokalo village and the Tokalo village council (the grassroots governance institution) is responsible for regulating the use of the lake as well as the land and forests surrounding it. Beyond the lake and towards Burma lie large swathes of forest that are exposed to very limited and low intensity local use. Recent research in this area has revealed the presence of 42 species of mammals and 136 species of avifauna including rare and threatened primates like the Phayre’s leaf monkey (Trachypithecus obscurus phayrei) and the Western hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock hoolock) (Datta Roy et al 2007).

Over 70 species of birds were recorded from the region during a three day IBA survey (Birand and Pawar 2001), though the bird life is certainly much richer. A later survey by Datta-Roy recorded 136 species of avifauna from the lake and its surrounding forests spread across three seasons. Common moorhen can be regularly seen with occasional sightings of the threatened Darter. Other migratory birds, though have not been recorded. Most of the other species recorded are forest birds such as the Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis, Grey Peacock Pheasant Polyplectron bicalcaratum, Pale-chinned Flycatcher Cyornis poliogenys, Black-backed Forktail Enicurus immaculatus, and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush Garrulax monileger, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus, White-rumped Shama Copsychus saularis, Red-headed Trogon Harpactes erythrocephalus, Long-tailed Broadbill Psarisomus dalhousiae, Silver-breasted Broadbill Serilophus lunatus, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush Garrulax pectoralis, Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis, Orange-bellied Chloropsis Chloropsis hardwickii, White-throated Bulbul Alophoixus flaveolus and Nepal Fulvetta Alcippe nipalensis. and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush Garrulax monileger.

Other key fauna.
Information on the mammalian fauna from a a recent survey confirms the presence of 19 species of mammals in the forest adjoining the Palak lake. It includes Leopard Panthera pardus, Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus, Dhole Cuon alpinus, Phayre’s leaf monkey Trachypithecus obscurus phayrei, Western hoolock gibbon Hoolock hoolock hoolock Sambar Cervus unicolor, Barking deer Muntiacus muntjac and civet cats.A solitary Asian elephant Elephas maximus also resides in the vicinity of the lake (Datta-Roy et. al. 2007). Reptiles and amphibian fauna information for the Palak lake is available from Pawar and Birand (2001). 9 amphibian species and 21 reptiles were recorded in the vicinity of the lake. Species such as the Red necked keelback Rhabdophis subminiatus, Spotted Draco Draco maculates, South east asian giant tortoise Manouria emys, Yellow tortoise Indotestudo elongata and South east asian softshell Amyda cartilaginea were recorded.

We are thankful to people in Saiha, BNHS and Dr. Rahmani.

For further information on the book ~

For further information Samrakshan ~ (Mizo) 94363 93394 ~ (Eng) 94361 56458 ~ email


Maraland said...

Thank you for the update. Pala Tipo - Palak Dil - Pala lake is beautiful.


prakhar said...

this lake is one of the most beautiful lakes i have seen........................

Nimesh Ved ( said...

Thanks Prakhar ... it is indeed one of the more beautiful places I have come across ... un spoilt by people like us .. hope / wish it remains like that for a long long time ...

Unknown said...

Tunnel plantations is being carried out ..the surrounding areas seems more dense now!