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Indawgyi Wildlife Sanctuary, its natural beauties and biodiversity boost ecotourism

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The Shwemyintzu mid-water pagoda at Indawgyi Lake. Photos : Kanu

By Thitsar (MNA)/GNLM

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The enchanting scenic beauty and biodiversity are captivating eco-travellers in Indawgyi Lake. The lake is packed with migratory and resident birds in winter as well.
Indawgyi Wildlife Sanctuary surrounded by evergreen steep mountains is located in Mohnyin Township in Kachin State and it is recognized as UNESCO Bioreserve Reserve. It is Southeast Asia’s third-largest lake and the largest wetland in Myanmar.

Indawgyi Wildlife Sanctuary was established on 9 August 2014. It was declared as ASEAN Heritage Park on 18 December 2003 and became a member of East Asia- Australasian Flyway as 118th country on 15 December 2014, was designated as Ramsar Site No. 2256 on 2 February 2016. Furthermore, it was recognized as Biosphere Reserve on 15 June 2017 and joined the network of Wetland Link International-WLI (Asia) on 1 April 2019.
Indawgyi Lake expanded across an area of 303.508 square miles (200,645 acres).
Indawgyi Wildlife Sanctuary warden office under the Department of Forest is implementing to protect habitat of migratory birds, conserve the ecosystem, maintain the sustainability of Wetland areas and restore and conserve the forest to minimize climate change.
The lake is situated 480 feet above sea level and surrounded by 1,100-high mountains. The lake is quite smaller than the lakes in Russia and Japan. Like the Lake Baikel in Russia and Pitch Lake, it is an ancient lake with similar existence and eutrophication, according to micro-climate research. The lake is Kachin State’s landmark, where biodiversity, ecosystem and historical geography can be studied. As a result of this, the lake conservation plan must continue from generation to generation to protect the heritage of the country.

Additionally, wild rice plants grow naturally in the lake. Indawgyi Lake became a stopover for migratory birds from the north to escape the extreme weather in winter.
Water quality assessment plays a pivotal role in sustainable aquaculture so environmental conservation measures have to be undertaken. Indawgyi Lake, Indawgyi creek and Mogaung creek are also grounds for different species of fish that hatch after swimming upstream.
Myanmar is strategically located and of geopolitical importance for regional connectivity between Southeast Asia and South Asia. The country is standing proudly with its strategic coastlines in the west and south, natural resources, icy mountains in the north and mountain ranges and rich biodiversity. The country’s wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are drawing the attention of researchers and have become the destinations for eco-tourism. The country is home to several cultural heritage sites, with UNESCO World Heritage sites and ASEAN Heritage Park.
Indawgyi Lake was a famous destination for tourists. In 2019, more than 10,000 ecotourists flocked to the Lake and enhanced the livelihoods of the residents. Indawgyi Lake is designated as UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve and it is supported by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, contributing towards sustainable tourism in the Mohnyin area.
Natural lakes and wildlife sanctuary draws the attention of the tourists and the ecotourism sites generate revenues more than the cultural heritage sites. The world countries notice it and preserve them for sustainable tourism.
The tourism recovery plan is halted amidst the concerns of the Omicron variant. Yet, some countries reopened tourism with safety and precautionary measures. The most visited countries are Canada, the US, India, Ireland, Italy, Brazil, China, South Africa, New Zealand and Switzerland. Myanmar along with neighbouring India and China are also expected to attract tourists.

Indawgyi Wildlife Sanctuary is home to 47 mammal species, 91 amphibians and crawling animal species, 501 birds, 95 fish species, 50 butterfly species, 48 plant species, 118 herbal plant species, 75 orchid species, seven bamboo types, five rattan types, 14 grass species and 157 aquatic plants.
Every year, migratory birds flock to the freshwater lake, where there is abundant food, away from colder regions with frozen lakes and a short food supply that make it difficult for them to survive. Indawgyi Lake is one of the primary habitats of winged visitors in winter.
The visitors can observe the biodiversity, climate change impact on the ecosystem, the ecotourism progress and negative consequences of illegal mining, and also carry out researches on ecosystem services.
The visitors can join bird-watching boat tours, trekking and hiking activities. They can also study the traditional fishing method of local people and culture, tradition and customs of the local community as there are 37 villages around Indawgyi Lake.
Ecotourism raises the state’s revenue and improves the socio-economy of the local community. The local people earn for living from eco-tourism, fishery resources, herbal plants and small-scale forest products.
The visitors can go on short trips by plane from Yangon and Mandalay. They can take road trips as well. The UNESCO listed Indawgyi Wildlife Sanctuary which is also designated as an ASEAN heritage site, is drawing the attention of the visitors, with picturesque evergreen forest and rich biodiversity.

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