Islands that Float

Have you ever seen floating islands? You’ll find them in Manipur, on Loktak Lake.

Lok means ‘stream’ in Manipuri and tak means ‘the end’. Several streams flow into the Loktak, which is the largest freshwater lake in north-east India.

It is famous for the floating islands, called phumdis in the local language. Some of these ‘islands’ are quite small, some are really large. In fact, there’s one that is large enough to have a National Park on it. The Keibul Lamjao National Park is the world’s only floating national park. Incredible, isn’t it?

The phumdis are something like swamps. They are made up of vegetation, soil and other organic material. They are home to many types of animals and birds, but the most important of them is the Sangai.

The Sangai is a kind of deer, and its hooves are adapted to walking on the swampy phumdis. It is the State animal of Manipur. The phumdis are their natural habitat. Sadly, there are very few Sangai left in the world. The Keibul Lamjao Park is a protected space for them. On the floating islands you will also find the Sambhar deer, and the Indian python, as well as birds like the Black Kite and the East Himalayan Pied Kingfisher.

The phumdis are in danger because the lake is facing various threats. A hydro-electric power project has altered the water level. This is causing the phumdis to break up. There’s a lot of pollution because of the growing number of people living on its banks. This has caused the plant and animal life in the lake to come down.

Let’s hope steps are taken quickly to keep this unique lake and its floating islands safe, and that the Sangai flourishes.

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