Recently, I posted an article titled "February 2, 2014 is World Wetlands Day".
Why am I interested in wetlands? Because I am concerned. My home in Jalladianpet, in the suburbs of Chennai is just 2.5 miles (4 km) from the Pallikaranai wetland in Chennai, Tamilnadu, India.
A wetland is technically defined as:
"An ecosystem that arises when inundation by water produces soils dominated by anaerobic processes, which, in turn, forces
the biota, particularly rooted plants, to adapt to flooding."
The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation that adapts to its unique soil conditions. Primarily, wetlands consist of hydric soil, which supports aquatic plants
There are four main kinds of wetlands: marsh, swamp, bog and fen. Sub-types include mangrove, carr, pocosin, and varzea.
Some experts also include wet meadows and aquatic ecosystems as additional wetland types.
This wetland is literally a treasury of bio-diversity that is almost four times that of Vedanthangal bird sanctuary in the Kancheepuram District of the state of Tamil Nadu, India, 47 miles (75 km) from Chennai where more than 40,000 birds (including 26 rare species), from various parts of the world visit during the migratory season every year.
The Pallikaranai wetlandcontains several rare and endangered species of plants and animals. It acts as a forage and breeding ground for thousands of migratory birds from various places within and outside the country. Bird watchers opine that the number of bird species sighted in the wetland is definitely more than in the Vedanthangal bird sanctuary.
The heterogeneous ecosystem of the marshland supports about 337 species of floras and faunas:
GROUP NUMBER OF SPECIES
Birds, fishes and reptiles are the most prominent of the faunal groups.
Russel's Viper (Source: umich.edu)
The Pallikaranai wetland is also home to some of the most endangered reptiles such as the Russell's viper, and birds such as the glossy ibis, gray-headed Lapwings and pheasant-tailed Jacana. Cormorants, darters, herons, egrets, open-billed storks, spoonbills, white ibis, little grebe, Indian moorhen, Black-winged Stilts, purple moorhens, warblers, coots and dabchicks have been spotted in large numbers in the marshland.
About 114 species of plants are found in the wetland, including 29 species of grass. These plant species include some exotic floating vegetation such as water hyacinth and water lettuce.
Since 2002, presence of new reptiles and plants have been recorded.
This pristine idyllic wetland is now shrinking due to indiscriminate dumping of refuse from the city; discharging of sewage; constructing buildings, including a railway station; connecting old Mahabhalipuram Road (OMR) and Pallavaram by road; disgorging toxic waste products, etc. In 2007, to protect the remaining wetland from shrinking further, the undeveloped areas in the region were notified as a reserve forest.