Keibul Lamjao Conservation Area

摘要: Justification of Outstanding Universal Value  Criteria (v):  Loktak Lake (Loktak Part) and Keibul Lamjao National Park (KLNP) are surrounded by many villages mainly inhabited by the Meitei, a dominant

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

  Criteria (v):  Loktak Lake (Loktak Part) and Keibul Lamjao National Park (KLNP) are surrounded by many villages mainly inhabited by the Meitei, a dominant ethnic group of Manipur. These places are historically, culturally, economically and politically very significant in Meitei society as it is mentioned in various folk songs and folk tales of Manipur.  There are many ancient chronicle (Puyas) written in Meitei mayek (script) namely, Kangbarol, Leisemlon, Pungkanbalol, Karallon, Umanglon, Leihou Naophamlon and Moirang Kangleirol Lambuba, in which the cultural and historical significance of Loktak Lake and KLNP are mentioned.

  The Meiteis have rich culture out of which the floating huts exemplify uniqueness in their architecture. Three hillock island villages namely, Karang, Thanga and Ithing are located in the Loktak Lake with few floating huts erected on the Phumdi. Phumdi is a heterogeneous mass of soil, vegetation and organic matter at various stages of decomposition. They occur in all sizes and thickness, occupying almost half of the lake area and three-fourth of the Keibul Lamjao Area.

  The Umang-lai (sacred groves/ forest deity) is worshiped in almost all the villages surrounding the Loktak Lake and KLNP. The folk songs, dance and other cultural rituals performed during umang-lai haraoba festivals (pleasing the sacred groves) in these villages are quite different from other such festivals performed in other villages of Manipur state. Indigenous boat race, water transport systems, indigenous aquatic foods, etc are some of the significant features of that area.  The Loktak Lake and Keibul Lamjao is also associated with the Epic love story of seven incarnations of ‘Khamba Thoibi’. There are many sacred places associated with Khamba and Thoibi epic which are still worshipped by the villagers.

  On the other hand, many legendary stories are associated with Sangai. One of such legend is: a prince of Luwang clan (one among the nine clans of Meitei tribe) of Manipur had transformed himself into a majestic deer to be known as Sangai. Second, the ancient royal boat (Hiyang Hirel) had the decoration of Sangai head on its head part. Third, according to Moirang Kangleirol (Folklore of Moirang), a legendary hero called Kadeng Thanjahanba, once brought a gravid female Sangai as a loving gift for his beloved Tonu Laijingrembi and released the deer free in the wild of Keibul Lamjao, thence-forth the place became the only abode of the Sangai.

  According to Meitei mythology, Ebuthou Thangjing, the divine ruler of the Moirang kingdom is worshipped as deity and deemed one among the creators of the universe. This kingdom was located near Loktak Lake, 45 kms from Imphal, was rich in culture and tradition. Apart from these symbolic cultural places, there are many other sacred places in and around Loktak Lake.

  Land-use or human interaction with the environment

  The vast agricultural fields surrounding the Loktak Lake is known as pat-lou (pat meaning ‘lake’ and lou meaning ‘agricultural field’) where indigenous paddy (such as Touthabi) are cultivated. The Punghul method (in this method, the land was to be tilled first and the seeds were sown over it again and finally the seeds were covered with soil by one more tilling) is generally employed in pat-lou.

  The Meitei ethnic group is mainly dependent on Loktak Lake and KLNP. Agriculture and fishing are the main economy of the people living in and around the lake. Apart from these, the villagers collect the aquatic plants and other aquatic food products from Loktak Lake and KLNP which are very costly and popular indigenous cuisines of Manipur.  However, the importance of Loktak Lake in the overall socio-economy of the people of Manipur state cannot be ignored as it is the main source of livelihood.

  The agricultural use of the Phumdi in the Loktak Lake vividly exemplifies an exceptional system which has evolved organically and harmoniously over time. Wild rice and vegetables are commonly grown. Wild rice, locally known as Kambong or Kambon-ishing is an aquatic/wetland plant of Manipur and is used for various purposes by the ethnic people ranging from food to fodder, thatch roofing, firewood substitute, house wall plastering etc. The infected gall forming culm (infected with fungus Ustilago Esculenta) is highly priced by local people and regarded as delicacy.

  The fish production of the state is mostly contributed by the Loktak Lake. Athaphum is a fishing technique using enclosures of strips of Phumdi arranged in a circular formation. This fishing technique has evolved over ages, where thin Phumdi and other plants such as E. stagnina, Capillipedium sp. etc. are put within the enclosure to attract fish. The harvest phase is called phum namba. The frequency ranges from once every fortnight to even three months.

  Criteria (vii): The Keibul Lamjao Conservation Area is of superlative natural beauty and provides some of the most spectacular scenery on earth. It is located in the state of Manipur which is also called the Switzerland of east and is famous for many peculiar features. Adding more to its beauty like a sparkling diamond amongst the pearls, a beautiful lake known as “Loktak Lake” is situated in the north of Keibul Lamajo Conservation area. Loktak (LOK = stream + TAK = the end) is the journey end of several streams and rivers. Loktak looks like a vast sheet of water reflecting light like a mirror. It is the largest fresh water lake in North Eastern India. Some hillocks protrude from the water surface. There are floating swampy islands, the characteristic feature of the Loktak Lake, within KLCA, locally called Phumdi. Phumdi are the actual jewel of the lake, made of thick mat of humus and dead vegetation, one fifth of which is above water and the remaining four fifths are below the surface of water. The poets and singers of Manipur have often described the natural beauty of this lake in their poetry. A famous Manipuri Poet Khwairakpam Chaoba Singh has described the glory Loktak Lake in his poem Loktak Mapanda (on the banks of Loktak). 

Today new ripple break dancing

  On the surging stream in my life.

  In the mere of my thought, high waves with crests

  Surge into my mind.

  Such a sight of the shining Meitei Lake

  These eyes have been blessed with

  This is Loktak, our Loktak that stretches

  Glittering before us, Meitei Lake

  (Source: Singh, 2002)

  These lines describes about the dynamic role of Loktak Lake in the life of Meiteis. Similarly, ballad singers of Manipur often describe the Loktak Lake as the mirror of Manipur. It has different connotations. It may simply mean that its water surface looks like a mirror. In another sense it highlights the lake’s association with the history of Manipur. It is a mirror reflecting the history of Manipur and the changes in the society down the ages. The exceptional natural beauty of the Loktak Lake and Keibul Lamjao National Park can be seen by standing on various islands of the lake. The blooming of water lilies and lotus in the lake during the time of summer is the real feast for the eyes. From Sendra Island one can see it as a vast meadow with a hillock in the centre.

  Criteria (ix): The fresh water lake ecosystem of Loktak with Phumdi represents significant ongoing ecological and biological processes. Southern portion of Loktak Lake forms the Keibul Lamjao National Park which is a continuous mass of Phumdi occupying an area of 40sq. Km. Phumdi are a heterogeneous mass of soil, vegetation and organic matter at various stages of decomposition. It provides a magnificent vista of green floating islands all over the lake. “It is the only floating national park in the world”. A Phumdi may be initiated with a small mass of undecomposed organic matter or dense growth of water hyacinth that accumulates some suspended silt and is gradually colonized by grasses and other herbaceous plants. The high proportion of vegetable matter in the Phumdi gives it a specific gravity and high buoyancy to keep it afloat. They float on the lake one-fifth of their thickness above and four-fifth under the water surface. The maximum thickness of a Phumdi is 8 ft. but its thickness varies in time and space depending on the conditions during its formative stage. The core of Phumdi is composed of detritus material, which is black in colour and is highly spongy. It is constituted of organic carbon (36%), nitrogen (2.08%), organic matter (24.98%) and other residues including mineral matter (37.94%). All together Phumdi play an important role in the ecological processes and functions of the lake ecosystem. They provide a biological sink to the key nutrients and govern the water and nutrient dynamics of the lake. Phumdi plays a critical role in the maintenance of the lake hydrological regime.

  Furthermore, Phumdi are an integral part of the lake and play an important role in the ecological processes and functions of the lake ecosystem. The life cycle of the Phumdi involves floating on the water surface during season of high water as in the monsoons. In the lean season, when the water level reduces, some area of the biomass comes into contact with the lake bed. When the rains come again and they become a float, the biomass has enough ‘food’- the nutrient-stored in their roots and their life continues.

  Criteria (x): KLCA comprises of unique ecosystem which is rich in biodiversity. A total of 185 plant species comprising 50 families and 121 genera were recorded. 90 species were recorded in the floating meadows and water, 19 species in the terrestrial habitat and 76 were common to both the habitats. The dominant species of the meadows are Zizania latifolia, Hedychium coronarium, Impatiens spp., Cyperus difformis and Polygonum spp. The species common to both the habitats are Phragmites karka, Cappillipedium assimile, Leersia hexendra etc. Overall, 22 economically important plant species used by the local inhabitants as food, fodder and medicinal purposes have been identified from KLNP compared to 33 economically important plant species recorded from the lake area.  54 fish species belonging to 18 families have been recorded from the lake. Out of the 54 species, 28 are common and available throughout the year while 26 species are rare and seasonal in presence. All together, 25 species of amphibians recorded from the lake and 32,855 water birds belonging to 58 different species have been recorded during the recent census conducted by the Forest department and local NGOs in association with the Bombay Natural Historical Society. Globally threatened species recorded in the lake were Black

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