Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Osmania University, Department of Zoology, Hyderabad, 500007 India
India, by its strategic geographical position and its varied terrain, supports a number of wetlands which provide a variety of floral and faunal components, and play an important role in the nation's economy. This paper summarizes the ecological relationships and the economic features of Kolleru Wetland on India's largest natural freshwater lake. The current status of this wetland, and its functional values are addressed as a review of (1) wetland configuration and characterization in various seasons; (2) hydrologic variables including industrial influx and man-made obstructions; (3) vegetative structure with emphasis on 18 species of aquatic macrophytes of 14 families, their economic uses, and problems regarding excessive weed growth; (4) resource utilization such as aquaculture and fisheries (this lake holds 63 species of fish belonging to 28 families), agriculture, and livestock rearing; (5) wildlife values such as the importance of the habitat for migratory and resident waterfowl (surveys of the avifauna recorded 198 species belonging to 45 families and 155 genera; this wetland serves as an excellent habitat for more than 60 species of migratory waterfowl); and (6) socioeconomic impact of increasing human populations.
Kolleru wetland is an integral part of the local irrigation network and is exploited extensively for paddy cultivation. There are also serious threats to this wetland in the form of encroachment for cultivation and conversion into aquaculture farms. Loss of habitat and poaching have affected the number of resident and migratory waterfowl. Clearly, policy or legal remedies are needed to check the rate of destruction of Kolleru. A natural awareness campaign will be necessary to develop an interest among the people for wetland protection and conservation.