Chari-Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve
Coordinates: The Chari-Dhand wetland conservation reserve is located on the edge of arid Banni grasslands and the marshy salt flats of the Rann of Kutch in Kutch District, Gujarat State in India. It is currently legally protected under the status as a Protected or Reserve Forest in India. Chari means salt affected and Dhand means shallow wetland, Dhand is a Sindhi word for a shallow saucer shaped depression. This is a seasonal desert wetland and only gets swampy during a good monsoon, receiving water from the north flowing rivers as well as from the huge catchment areas of many surrounding big hills. It is spread over an area of 80 km2. It is in Nakhtrana Taluka, 80 km south west to the city of Bhuj, about 7 or 8 km from Fulary village and 30 km from Nakhtrana town. It is home to nearly two lakh birds with migratory and endangered species of birds flocking into the area in thousands during monsoon and winters.
Originally proposed as a "Bird Sanctuary"Edit
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The Gujarat State forest department had originally proposed that Chari Dhandh be declared as the "Kutch bird sanctuary" because its much bigger in size than the famous Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in neighbouring state of Rajasthan. The Gujarat state Wildlife Board agreed to the demand on 26 June 2002, but later it was decided to accord Chari-Dhand wetland the status of a "conservation forest", as it would be of greater benefit to the local populace.
Currently granted lower level protection as a "Protected or Reserve Forest"Edit
The wetland was originally spread over 22,700 hectares (227 km2), out of which 80 km2 was the water filled area. Gujarat State Forest Department has accorded it the legal status of a "Protected or Reserve Forest" in 2008 after 20 year lobbying by local conservationists.
Habitat and wildlifeEdit
The abundance of water during the monsoons attracts birds to this one of India's unique wasteland. Thousands of flamingos in their mating plumage, Common cranes and other wetland birds including hundreds of Painted storks and Spoonbills among others can be spotted here. The wetland also attracts chinkara, wolves, caracal, desert cats and desert foxes besides endangered birds.
There are also efforts to replace alien invasive Gando Bawal thorn tree (Prosopis juliflora) with useful trees like Khara (Salvadora oleoides) and Mitha pilus (Salvadora persica) on the periphery of the Chari lake as part of the new conservation measures.
Research and educationEdit
Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) had its field station at Chhari-Dhand in Banni grasslands from Jan 1990 to 1995 for the Bird Migration study project (S.A. Hussain) and grassland ecology project headed by Dr. Asad Rahmani. It now organizes Nature Education Camps here.
Proposed "Ramsar Convention site"Edit
Eco tourism developmentEdit
The district administration has chosen the Chari Dhandh wetland to create basic facilities for tourists. The Gujarat State forest department is preparing a project for Chari Dhandh development along with Dhinodhar hills in Nakhatrana taluka to make a circuit comprising Dhorado in interior Banni, Chari Dhandh and Dhinodhar to be a scenic route for nature lovers. As it is shallow water body, it could be used to promote boating providing employment to the local people, whose main activity has been restricted to fishing till now. There is also a suggestion to set up a Nature Interpretation Centre at the nearby Fulary village, the centre will provide knowledge of the wetland to the tourists.
In dark nights an unexplained strange dancing light phenomena known locally as Chir Batti (Ghost lights) is known to occur here, in the banni grasslands and its seasonal marshy wetlands and in the adjoining desert of the marshy salt flats of Rann of Kutch.
Wildlife sanctuaries and reserves of KutchEdit
From the city of Bhuj various ecologically rich and wildlife conservation areas of the Kutch / Kachchh district can be visited such as Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, Narayan Sarovar Sanctuary, Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, Banni Grasslands Reserve and Chari-Dhand Wetland Conservation Reserve etc..
- Maheshwari, D. V. (15 June 2008). "Chari-Dhand wetland yet to get conservation reserve tag". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 2 October 2012.
- Maheshwari, D. V. (24 June 2008). "Bhuj wetland to be turned into a tourist hot spot". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 2 October 2012.
- Maheshwari, D. V. (22 August 2008). "Migratory birds come flocking as Chari-Dhand gains 'wet'". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 14 February 2009.
- Chhari-Dhand Conservation Reserve Archived 15 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine; Article by Jugal Kishore Tiwari; Wetlands Forever website
- India's riches unprotected; Credits: BNHS, RSPB; 25-07-2008; BirdLife International, Also posted on The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance website 
- Ecological Sites; NATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON PROSOPIS: ECOLOGICAL, ECONOMIC SIGNIFICANCE AND MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES Archived 11 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine; 20–21 February 2009, Bhuj; URL: nspc.gujaratdesertecology.com "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 2010-02-07.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Ramsar designation of IBA lacking (159 IBAs); Important Bird Areas and potential Ramsar Sites in Asia – India Archived 3 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine; 31 August 2005; birdlife.org
- Ramsar site status sought for Nal Sarovar; By Sajid Shaikh, TNN, 17 February 2002, Times of India
- Basu, Debarati; Shukla, Shubhlakshmi (26 August 2008). "[Gujarat] State thinks green, banks on eco-tourism". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 12 September 2008.
- "Ghost lights that dance on Banni grasslands when it's very dark; by D V Maheshwari; 28 August 2007; The Indian Express Newspaper". Archived from the original on 14 January 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2009.
- Stark beauty (Rann of Kutch); Bharati Motwani; 23 September 2008; India Today Magazine, Cached: Page 2 of 3 page article with these search terms highlighted: cheer batti ghost lights rann kutch [permanent dead link], Cached: Complete View - 3 page article seen as a single page 
- Chhari-Dhand finally declared Bird conservation reserve - Kutch, Gujarat; by Jugal Tiwari; 15 July 2008; delhibirdpix Google Group
- Chhari-Dhand Conservation Reserve; Article by Jugal Kishore Tiwari; Wetlands Forever website
- Desert (Rann of Kutch) wetlands; 6 February 2003; WWF Global website
- Wetlands; FORESTS & ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT; Government of Gujarat State, India
- KACHCHH PENINSULA AND THE GREAT RANN; The Geological Survey of India, Ministry of Mines, Government of India