Wular Lake is the largest freshwater lake in India and lies in the Kashmir Valley, 40 km northwest of Srinagar City in the Northwest of India. With a size of 189 sq. km, Wular Lake is also one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia. The lake lies at an altitude of 1,580 m. Its maximum depth is 14 metres, it has a length of 16 km and a breadth of 10 km.
Wular Lake plays a significant role in the hydrographic system of the Kashmir Valley by acting as huge absorption basin for annual floodwater. The lake and its surrounding extensive marshes have an important natural wildlife. The rivers Bohnar, Madamati and Erin from the mountain ranges and the rivers Vetasta (Jhelum) and the Ningal from the south bring hundreds of tons of silt into the lake every year. This rampant siltation and the human encroachments have devastating effects on the lake.
In recognition of its biological, hydrological and socio-economic values, the lake was included in 1986 as a Wetland of National Importance under the Wetlands Programme of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India for intensive conservation and management purposes. Subsequently in 1990, it was designated as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.
Wular Lake is a sustainable wintering site for a number of migratory waterfowl species such as Little Egzet (Egretta garzetta), Cattle Egzet (Bubulcus ibis), Shoveler (Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Aythya farina) and Mallard. Birds like Marbled Teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris) and Pallas's Fish-eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus) are species listened in the Red List of IUCN. Many terrestrial bird species observed around the lake are Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Little Cuckoo (Piaya minuta), European Hoopoe (Upupa epops), Monal Pheasant (Lophophorus impejanus) and Himalayan Pied Woodpecker (Dendrocopos himalayensis albescens).
Wular Lake is also an important habitat for fish and contributes about 60 percent of the fish yield of the Kashmir Valley. The dominant fish species found in the lake are: Cyprinus carpio, Barbus conchonius, Gambusia affinis, Nemacheilus sp., Crossocheilus latius, Schizothorax curvifrons, S. esocinus, S. planifrons, S. micropogon, S. longipinus and S. niger. More than 8,000 fishermen earn their livelihood from Wular Lake.