One of the least known facts about Punjab is that it is the natural habitat for a variety of flora and fauna. There are a number of wetlands, bird sanctuaries and zoological parks all over Punjab. So, even in this land of myriad cultural colours, you can enjoy a Lion Safari at Chhatbir Zoo near Chandigarh or just watch the exotic migratory birds fly in at Hari Ke Pattan in Amritsar. Read on to find out more about the wildlife in Punjab.

Hari-ke-pattan- National Wetland & Wildlife Sanctuary, Amritsar

It is one of the most important lakes in India. The lake turns into a haven for nearly 350 species of migratory birds the winter season (November-onwards). A number of colourful and exotic birds fly in from as far as Siberia. It is also one of India's leading in-land sweet water fish market and home of varied wild life. The nearest districts are Harike, Amritsar, Kapurthala and Ferozepur.

Satluj Water Body Wetland, Ropar

Over 250 species of migratory birds fly in here every year. Its 30 km stretch of crystal clear water in scenic surroundings makes it a popular spot for angling, kayaking, canoeing, boating and long distance swimming.

Kanjli Wetland, Kapurtala

At a distance of 5 k.m. from Kapurthala is the rivulet of Bein, which is surrounded by natural scenery. The Maharaja of Kapurthala had built a lake after making a barrage on river Kali Bein. Joined by many rivulets, the beautiful lake is still there. On the left side of lake lies a green forest with some wildlife. Also located on the banks of the lake is the Villa Buona Vista whose design is reminiscent of French architecture. Today it is inhabited by the present descendant of Maharaja. The lake is not just the beautiful home for migratory birds in winters, but as been developed as a popular picnic spot. You can even go boating in the lake. The wetland extends in the area of about 50 acres and is a habitat to about 40-50 bird species and was declared a wetland of national importance in the year 1992 on account of the rich biodiversity it supported. Kanjli and Kapurthala are the nearest districts.

Zoological Park Chhatbir

Located at a distance of 20 km from Chandigarh and 55 km from Patiala is the Zoological Park, Chhatbir. The park area is spread over 202 Acres of raw scrubland over River Ghaggar. It houses 52 species of animals including the royal tiger of Bengal and the Himalayan black bear and 62 species of birds in a simulated natural habitat. Popular for its Lion Safari, it is the biggest park of its kind in India. Other interesting places to visit are Deer Park at Neelon on Ludhiana- Chandigarh road and the Tiger Safari near Ludhiana is also a great experience.

Prominent Flora and Fauna

Mammals A variety of mammals like the Smooth Indian Otter, Hog Deer, Wild Boar, Flying Fox, Wildcat, Squirrel, Fruitbat, Common Mongoose can be seen here.

Birds All kind of migratory and exotic birds can be seen here specially during the winters. The frequent ones are Great Crested Grebe, White Necked Stork, Adjutant Stork, Glossy Ibis, Pintail, Gadwall, Eastern Purple Heron, Brahminy, Mallard, Wigeon, Spotbill Duck, Coot, Tailor Bird, Peafowl, Ruddy Sheduck.

Reptiles & Amphibians The wetlands are also a home to 7 species of turtle and 4 species of snakes, Frogs, Tortoise, Toads.

Fishes The wetland waters are a natural habitat for 16 kind of fishes. The important ones are Abeo, Catla, Puntius, Cirrhina, Channa, Mystus, Notopterus, Cyperinus, Ambasis ranga.

Plants Among the flora, there are terrestrial & aquatic plants, major ones being Dalbergia, Prosopis, Albizzia, Ficus, Azolla, Hydrilla, Nelumbo, Typha, Phragmites, Zizyphus Mauritiana, Syzgium cumini, Ipomoea aquatica, Cyprus and Grasses.

Endangered Species Certain rare animals and birds like Indian Skimmer, Yellow-eyed Pigeon, Rufous-vented Prinia, Scaup Duck, Falcated Teal, Testudine turtle, etc.

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