Analytical procedure for physicochemical parameters of NDWC during 2015.
The Nara Desert Wetland Complex (NDWC) includes sandy dunes, steep hills and occupies low lying flat zones associated with different natural wetlands formed from the seepage of Nara Canal. These different wetlands are the major perennial source of water to the agricultural lands, local communities, wildlife and for grazing livestock. The NDWC encompasses more than 225 seasonal and permanent small, medium and large sized lakes/wetlands. The total area of Nara Canal is distributed about (108,960 hectares) which starts from Sorah to Head Jamrao. The NDWC was declared in 1972 as a Game Reserve area for the protection of wild animals. The NDWC is also recognized an important potential Ramsar Site. The different floral habitation in the Nara Desert consists of mostly drought resistant vegetation of phytoplankton, reed vegetation, herbs, shrubs and trees. The area is ecologically rich with the faunal biodiversity that includes zooplankton, invertebrates, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and small and large mammals. The NDWC has received high values for its economic, social, floral and faunal habitat, aquatic biodiversity since the local communities are directly or indirectly dependent on these natural sustainable resources. During the sampling of environmental parameters, most of the wetlands were determined to be seasonal and permanent freshwater, brackish and hypersaline lakes.
- Nara Desert wetland complex
- Nara Canal
- ecologically-sustainable resources
- environmental parameters
1.1. Nara Desert wetland complex (NDWC)
The Nara Desert Wildlife Sanctuary is located between 26°28° N and 68°70° N (Elevation 50–115 m) in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. The desert area is approximately 23,000 km2 semiarid, receiving most of its water 88–135 mm of annual rainfall sporadically during the season of monsoon. These wetlands have rich variety of floral and faunal life such, as various aquatic plant species and different animal species of fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. However, the region is of diverse ecological value for the biodiversity of plant and animal species. These wetlands are distributed in different districts which usually start from Ghotki, Sukkur, Khairpur and ends in Sanghar District [1, 2, 3, 4]. In the Nara Canal region, the ground water level usually varies around 76 mm. The capacity of recharging these wetlands in the region is very low due to low rainfall. The level of water table varies between 2.5 and 5 m. In the nearest lands to the Nara Canal, the water level increases up to 10–18 m. Most of the wetlands were developed from sand dunes while a few were developed by deposition of silt . Irrigation system on Nara Canal is contained from upper Nara between Sukkur Barrage to the south Jamrao Headwaters and includes major canals such as Jamarao, Mithrao, Khipro and Thar [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. The area is geographically part of the Indus Basin and is composed of alluvial sediments which are deposited by previous and current different branches of the rivers. The sediments of the area are carried by Indus River which have tertiary shale and limestone basement. The sediments are composed of acolin sands that have previously been deposited during the Pleistocene Epoch. The composition of soil is from sandy to loamy and some part of soil is scarcely made up with the loamy sands. The color of soils is generally from brown to gray brown with the 5–15% mixture of CaCO3. The soil is usually composed of nan-saline, non-sodic mixed with poor organic materials having range of pH from 7.8 to 8.4. The developing hypersaline wetlands are common due to the overflow from Nara Canal . The region is distributed with the sandy and steep hills which are locally famous as “patt”, “Tars” or “Tals”. The main source of water for the agriculture and other activities is Nara Canal which extends up to 4–5 km from both sides of canal  (Figure 1).
The area has high wind velocity with the huge amounts of shifting of sand hills and have high temperature with higher soil radiation in the summer and observed very short rainfall and high evapo-transpiration. In the Nara Desert the average minimum temperature is 20°C and the maximum temperature is 45°C. In the summer, the hottest months are from May to July, when the temperature increases from 45 to 51°C. In the winter season, the lower temperature ranges from 20 to 28°C for the months of December to January. In the region, the annual rainfall from 88 to 135 mm occurs during the months from July to September [1, 2, 3, 4, 6]. The region of NDWC includes about more than 225 small to medium and some large sized-wetlands; some of these are seasonal and most are permanent. The Nara Canal is the largest canal of Sindh Province and covers more than 108 million hectares. On the both sides of Nara Canal the area is covered with woodland, riverine forest, scrub and desert scrubs. In the region, the source of water for wetlands is the seepage from the Nara Canal [1, 2, 3, 4, 7].
The climate of the area is mainly arid having high temperatures and late summer rains observed. The seasonal rainfall is varied and is less than 250–300 mm and rainy season usually starts from June to September. Before the monsoon season, the average temperature is exceeding 45°C in the desert region and in the plains of NDWS the average temperature between 30 and 40°C. The wetland complex is recognized of great hydrological values as 98% Nara Canal water is used for agriculture and only 2% water is used for domestic and drinking purposes. The wetland complex of Nara Canal is 361.6 km long and 90–135 m wide. The maximum water depth of wetland complex is 7.5 m. The highest water discharges of Nara Canal are reported in the months of May–July and the minimum water flow in the August [1, 2, 5].
1.2. Socio-economic status of area
According to the census survey report of 2016, the total population of Nara Taluka is counted 160,985. The target area of Nara Taluka the total population can be estimated to be more than 60,000. The major communities are living in the area study are Baradin, Baloch, Chang, Shard, Syed, Rapper, Dashi, Maleah, Khaskheli, Channa, Sahta, Gopang, Bhurgari, Rind, Nizamani, Mirbahar, Khoso, Wassan, Deewan, Ibupoto, Kakepoto, Rajar, Mirani, and Macchi. From these communities, a few numbers of people are engaged in artisan work, trade, business and job in government departments etc. The Livestock and agriculture are the major source of income of local communities. Cotton and wheat are the main crops cultivated in the Nara while sugarcane, barely, oil seed, pulses, vegetable and fodder are also cultivated. The peoples of the area are living in the worst condition and they have least health facilities, drinking water, education and they do not have available basic life facilities. In spite of low productivity of area, the desert area sustains relatively higher human (1.05 m) and livestock (1.25 m) populations was reported, respectively. The livestock is the major source of income, meat and wool in the area. The overexploitation of vegetation by the grazing animals and the cutting of trees and shrubs for fuel purposes have resulted in environmental degradation that threatens the natural resources in this area. There is no developed transportation system in the Nara Desert. Due to low literacy rate in the area, there is a lack of employment opportunities .
1.3. Floristical and faunilistical assessment of Nara Desert wetland complex
In the region of NDWC the richest biodiversity comprises a mosaic habitat of sandy hills, canals, forests, agriculture fields, freshwater and hypersaline wetlands. The area has the richest plant biodiversity consisting of 160 plant species belonging to 118 genera and 45 families were recorded [8, 9, 10]. The seasonal crops include sugarcane, cotton, wheat, barley and sunflower. The major vegetation in the sandy habitats are
The region has been received the high socio-economic values for the local community which is dependent on the agriculture, livestock, fish farms and freshwater wetlands. In this area, the small to medium villages are scattered and their major economies are agriculture and livestock [1, 2, 5, 17, 24]. In this zone, the variety of different wild mammalian species includes
2. Material and methods
For the collection of data the study was carried out in Nara Desert Wildlife Sanctuary which is located between 26°28° N and 68°70° N (Elevation 50–115 m) in the province of Sindh, Pakistan For the collection of flora species, the direct method/observation was applied during the diurnal period. To collect the faunal species, the direct and indirect methods were applied. For the collection of important ecological data of floristical and faunistical species, the field work for diurnal and nocturnal surveys were conducted randomly.
For the various physicochemical parameters, water from 10 randomly selected stations from a few selected lakes of NDWC were sampled monthly from January to December 2015. The samples were collected from two different sampling sites of upper surface and lower bottom layers and were kept in (Van Dorn Plastic Bottles 1.5 liter) during the collection period. After the samples were kept in 10% nitric acid for 24 hours and rinsed with the distilled water. Water samples were mixed in acid-washed container, rinsed with distilled water, and then stored at 4°C for further analysis. For quality assurance, the samples were analyzed in duplicate through careful standardization and samples examined. Physicochemical analysis was performed by the standardized methods . Chemical properties of water samples including water temperature, depth, and transparency were measured with the Secchi Disk. The temperature was measured by a mercury thermometer immersed into a water depth of 15 cm for 2–5 mins. The pH was measured by of an Orion Model 420 pH meter. The EC, TDS, and Na parameters were measured by a WTW 320 conductivity meter. Alkalinity, hardness, Cl and phosphate were analyses conducted by the standardized methods as recognized by WHO . Titration method (2310) was used to measure Ca, HCO3 and HCO. Mg and K were analyzed by spectrometry. For the analysis of BOD and DO, the Winkler method and a Jenway Model 9071 Oxygen Meter were used, respectively (Table 1).
|pH||pH||pH Unit||pH meter|
|Electrical conductivity||EC||Mu/Scm||Conductivity meter|
|Total dissolved solids||TDS||mg L−1||WTW 320|
|Turbidity||Turb||NTU||Nephlometric turbidity meter|
|Calcium||Ca||mg L−1||Titration method (EDTA)|
|Magnesium||Mg||mg L−1||Titration method (EDTA)|
|Hardness||Hard||mg L−1||Titration (silver nitrate)|
|Alkalinity||Alkal||mg L−1||Titration (silver nitrate)|
|Chlorides||Cl||mg L−1||Titration (silver nitrate)|
|Sodium||Na||mg L−1||WTW (320)|
|Potassium||K||mg L−1||Titration method (EDTA)|
|Sulphate||SO4||mg L−1||Titration (2310)|
|Biological oxygen Demand||BOD||mg L−1||Winkler method|
|Dissolved oxygen||DO||mg L−1||Winkler method|
3.1. Ecological assessment: (Flora and Fauna)
|S. No#||Scientific Name||Common Name||Local Name|
|1.||Thorn mimosa, Bubul||Bubar|
|5.||Chui-mui, Lajwanti||Sharam Booti|
|16.||Red Gum, Eucalyptus||Safedo|
|23.||Dub, Halfa grass||Drubh|
|35.||Sixweeks Threeawn||Lumb Gaah|
|36.||Cassia, Golden tree||Ghora wal|
|S. No#||Scientific Name||Common Name|
|11.||Small Indian mongoose|
|14.||Indian wild boar|
|18.||Indian crested porcupine|
|20.||Indian desert jird|
|23.||Indian soft shell turtle|
|24.||Indian flapshell turtle|
|27.||Indian sand boa|
|28.||Sindh awlheaded sand snake|
|29.||Cliff racer platyceps|
|32.||Afghan ground agama|
|33.||Yellow-bellied house gecko|
|34.||Spotted Indian house gecko|
|35.||Keeled rock gecko|
|37.||Indian sand swimmer|
|38.||Bronze grass skink|
|41.||Indian fringetoed sandy lizard|
|52.||Indian pond heron|
|73.||Central Asian shikra|
|84.||Greater sand plover|
|86.||White tailed plover|
|87.||Little ringed plover|
|89.||Lesser sand plover|
|104.||Brown headed gull|
|105.||Black Headed gull|
|109.||Indian River tern|
|113.||Blue rock pigeon|
|115.||Little brown dove|
|117.||Brown fish owl|
|123.||Blue-cheeked bee eater|
|127.||Great short-toed lark|
|129.||Pale sand martin|
|131.||Barn or common swallow|
|132.||Rufous tailed or Isabelline shrike|
|133.||Southern gray shrike|
|134.||Bay backed shrike|
|141.||Pied robin chat|
|146.||Yellow bellied prinia|
|147.||Rufous vented prinia|
|153.||White browed fantail|
|155.||Clamorous reed warbler|
|156.||Lesser whitethroat sylvia|
|162.||Sindh jungle sparrow|
3.2. Analysis of physicochemical parameters
The highest air temperature of 45°C was measured in July and the lowest of 20°C was measured in January (Tables 4, 11). The highest and lowest water temperatures were 42 and 17°C, respectively (Table 4). The highest and lowest values (9.3 and 6.9) for pH were measured in November and December, respectively (Tables 11, 12). The highest and lowest values (9120 and 364 mu/Scm) for EC were measured in November and May, respectively (Tables 11, 13). The highest and lowest values (1042 and 214 mg/L) for TDS were measured in March and May, respectively (Tables 7, 13). The highest and lowest values (186 and 0.20 NTU) for turbidity were measured in the months of January – September, respectively (Tables 7, 9). The highest and lowest values (1214 and 6 mg/L) for Ca were measured in January and November, respectively (Tables 8, 10). The highest and lowest values (876 and 12 mg/L) for Mg were measured in March and May, respectively (Tables 8, 13). The highest and lowest values (5536 and 140 mg/L) for hardness were measured in March and May, respectively (Tables 7, 13). The highest and lowest values (71.6 and 2.0 mg/L) for alkalinity were measured in November and September, respectively (Tables 8, 11). The highest and lowest values (3418 and 22 mg/L) for Cl were measured in March and May, respectively (Tables 7, 13). The highest and lowest values (1231 and 21 mg/L) for Na were measured in November and May, respectively (Tables 10, 13). The highest and lowest values (182 and 3 m/L) for K were measured in January and July, respectively (Tables 7, 13). The highest and lowest values (2980 and 38 mg/L) for SO4 were measured in November and May, respectively (Tables 7, 13). The highest and lowest values (3580 and 0.5 mg/L) for HCO3 were measured in November and July (Tables 8, 11) while the value of 0 for HCO was measured in all the months of the study period (Tables 4–13). The highest and lowest values (4.6 and 2.7 mg/L) for BOD were measured in January and July, respectively (Tables 9, 10). The highest and lowest values (6.1 and 3.7 mg/L) for DO were measured in November and July, respectively (Tables 4, 10).
4. Discussion and conclusion
The Nara Desert Wetland Complex (NDWC) encompasses sandy dunes, steep hills and includes low lying flat zones associated with different natural wetlands formed from the seepage of Nara Canal. These different wetlands are the major perennial source of water for the agricultural lands, local communities, wildlife and grazing livestock. NDWC comprises more than 225 seasonal and permanent, small, medium and large-sized lakes/wetlands. The total area of Nara Canal is distributed from Sorah (Sukkur) to Head Jamrao about 108,960 hectares and Nara Canal was declared in 1972 as a Game Reserve area for the protection of wild animals. The NDWC is also recognized as an essential potential Ramsar Site [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. The different floral habitation distributed in the Nara Desert includes phytoplankton, reed vegetation, herbs, shrubs and trees. The area is ecologically-rich with the faunal biodiversity which includes zooplankton, invertebrates, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, small and large mammals. The NDWC has received high economic, social, floral and faunal habitats, and aquatic biodiversity values because the local communities are directly or indirectly dependent on these natural sustainable resources [1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 29, 35] (Figure 7).
In the area the water quality and recharged by the Nara Canal is mainly sweet and acceptable ranges of TDS between 500 and 800 ppm except hypersaline lakes. The hypersaline water of desert area is mainly observed brackish which have TDS between 10,000 and 28,000 pp. [5, 36].
The climate of the area is mainly arid having high temperatures and late summer rains observed. The seasonal rainfall is varied and is less than 250–300 mm and rainy season usually starts from June to September. Before the monsoon season, the average temperature is exceeding 45°C in the desert region and in the plains of NDWS the average temperature between 30 and 40°C. The wetland complex is recognized of great hydrological values as 98% Nara Canal water is used for agriculture and only 2% water is used for domestic and drinking purposes. The wetland complex of Nara Canal is 361.6 km long and 90–135 m wide. The maximum water depth of wetland complex is 7.5 m. The highest water discharges of Nara Canal are reported in the months of May–July and the minimum water flow in the August [1, 2, 3, 4, 7].
The assessment of physicochemical parameters such as pH and alkalinity revealed that the lake water has mostly remained alkaline during the whole study period except the Nara Canal station due to its input of rain water. The range of hardness was higher in most of the selected lakes of NDWC. The acceptable level of hardness in lake waters is recognized as 200 mg/L by the World Health Organization . The physicochemical parameters of Na and Mg, as well as the EC, TDS concentrations were found to be higher than the WHO standard. The Na is the major solute that can also affect aquatic biodiversity ; Na concentrations during the study period were higher than WHO accepted standard in most of the wetlands in the NDWC. The WHO recommended that the tolerable level of Cl is 250 mg/L . In this study, the various wetlands had higher Cl concentration than the acceptable WHO standard. However, the concentrations of Ca, K, SO4, HCO3, BOD and DO were higher than the acceptable WHO standard in the most of selected wetlands during the study period.
In the study area, quality of water is mainly sweet and acceptable for drinking purposes. The range of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) reported between 500 and 800 ppm. In the area, there are also few brackish wetlands reported and TDS varies between 10,000 and 28,000 due to recharge of insufficient amount of water. The quality of ground water is mainly dominated by sulfate, chloride, calcium and magnesium ions [16, 38, 39]. The conductivity (or TDS) is major parameter along with pH in recognizing the water quality. The values of both parameters is considered acceptable in freshwater lakes while it is otherwise considered the saline lakes. If the value of turbidity is higher than considering alkaline water while above the WHO standard level of 5 NTU. The value of higher turbidity may be due to discharge of waste materials and agriculture run off. The Nara Canal is originates from the Indus River. The water in the Indus River is generally contaminated carrying organic and inorganic polluted particles load from the upstream due to anthropogenic activities. The Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA 2002) recorded that the value of BOD in Indus River is exceeds more than 6.5 mg/L, which is also recognized by Global Environmental Monitoring System (GEMS) the water of Indus River is highly polluted. According to microbiological analysis of water by WWF-Pakistan (2007) confirmed that in the two sites the presence of fecal coliform. The availability of Fecal coliform in the water system is considering harmful for the human population consumption which may cause water borne disease. In freshwater bodies the availability of Fecal coliform is an indicator of contamination with the human and animal excreta [5, 7, 36, 38, 40, 41].
The parameters of water were only collected to examine the quality of water for the purpose of drinking. Although, it has also been reported that the more than 100,000 fisherman population who were directly associated with the fishery occupation have suffered a lot in the recent decades. In the wetland complexes the higher amount of inflow of saline effluent has causing in the devastation of the lake [7, 40].
This research study on “Ecology and Environmental Assessment of Nara Desert Wetland Complex, (NDWC) Khairpur, Sindh-Pakistan” was financially supported by University of Sindh Jamshoro, Sindh- Pakistan.
Conflict of interest
The research study of “Ecology and Environmental Assessment of Nara Desert Wetland Complex, (NDWC) Khairpur, Sindh-Pakistan”; has there is no conflict of interest.
I am very thankful to WWF-Pakistan and Sindh Wildlife Department for their support during the collection of data in the studied areas of NDWC.
Acronyms and Abbreviations
|TDS||total dissolved solids|
|BOD||biological oxygen demand|
|NDWC||Nara Desert wetland complex|
|WHO||World Health Organization|
|WWF||Worldwide Fund for Nature|