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Hamoun With Its Latent Beauty and Migrating Birds On the Verge of Destruction

Cultural, Political & Social Magazine of Sistan & Baluchestan Province
November 1999,
No. 7
By: Gholamreza Nouri Sadeq

Hamoun Lake with an area of 4,000 sq. kilometers and located east of the Iranian plateau is the biggest sweet water lake in Iran and is an internationally known swamp and an important habitat for migrating birds. During the last three decades this lake has undergone many changes. The fluctuating volume of incoming waters, heavy sedimentation and inflow of outside species in the landlocked lake, has led to many changes in the ecosystem of Hamoun Lake.

Due to presence of migrating aquatic birds Hamoun Lake which covers an area of 4000 sq. kilometers east of Iran, is one of the wildlife resorts in the country. During an international convention in Ramsar in 1972 Hamoun Lake was registered an international habitat and the biggest sweet water lake in Iran. Each year hundreds of thousands of migrating birds flock to Hamoun Lake. With the lapse of time and specially during the past three decades Hamoun Lake has undergone major changes.

Hamoun Lake is a landlocked ecosystem and is limited area with a number of specific animals and plants and is not linked with other aquatic ecosystems. In terms of ecology and botany, all researches and scientists believe that the best method of preserving the ecosystem of such landlocked lakes is to protect its present food chain system and prevent other species from entering the lake as food or food breeders because the chain feeding system of an ecosystem is balanced and entrance of a alien species as food or food consumer upsets this balance and upon disturbance of the feeding chain the ecosystem gradually changes and disintegrates.

The same analysis is true with the Hamoun Lake and the following important factors have contributed to deterioration of its ecosystem:

a. Fluctuation in the amount of incoming waters.

During the recent decades the amount of water entering the lake has changed and in certain years due to shortage of water the lake has dried up.

b. Sedimentation in Hamoun Lake.

During the course of many years sedimentation has reduced the depth of burrows in Hamoun Lake and this has caused the water to exit from the lake and enter Shileh River which flows outside the country.

In other words due to increased sediments the lake has lost its preservation strength in several regions and has been converted to a waterway which leads the water outside the lake.

c. Entrance of foreign species.

As mentioned earlier the entrance of foreign species in the lake has greatly damaged the ecosystem in Hamoun Lake and along with other negative factors has expedited its deterioration.

During the recent years the whitefish and several species of cyprinidae have been fed to Hamoun Lake for rearing and increased fishing. These species have proven aggressive and destructive to the food chain system in the lake. As a result the power of rehabilitation of the reed plantations in the lake has been destroyed and each year the volume of such plants is reducing.

d. Increase of population and urbanization in the region has affected the villages and has caused the work force to increase their activity in animal breeding, mat-making and curtain weaving. Surely the reed plantations in Hamoun is unable to respond to such high demand or serve as fodder for animals or the handicraft industry.

Thus all these factors have joined hand to destroy the habitat of migrating aquatic birds in the region. As a result each year the number of migrating birds to Hamoun Lake has been decreasing.

In order to preserve Hamoun Lake as a biospheric and genetic reserve as well as sweet water source in the Iranian plateau, we must try to rehabilitate the lake by protecting the native reed and cattail reed. We must encourage the inhabitants around the lake to plant such species as fodder for animals and for use in handicraft industries so that we can lessen pressure on the lake's reeds and allow the lake to rehabilitate itself. Another important project for rehabilitation is dredging the lake to increase the volume of incoming water. But above every other factor we must specify our water right at Hirmand River so that a definite amount of water will continually flow to Hamoun River.