Chhilchhila (Seonthi Forest Reserve) Wildlife Bird Sanctuary
The Chhilchhila Wildlife Sanctuary also known as Seonthi Reserve Forest, is located near Kurukshetra University in Kurukshetra district in the Indian state of Haryana. It is located in a depression which has a small lake created by an embankment. The sanctuary, as a staging and wintering ground of avifauna, has recorded (between April 2009 and March 2012) 57 species (33 winter migrants, 2 summer migrants and 22 resident species) of both resident and migrant wetland birds which belong to 37 genera and 16 families. Two species which have been classified Near Endangered have been identified in the sanctuary: the Oriental darter (Anhinga melanogaster) and the painted stork.
The sanctuary covers an area of 28.92 hectares (71.5 acres). It was declared a Bird Sanctuary in 1986. Under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (53 of 1972) of the Government of India, a zone of 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) surrounding the sanctuary has been declared an Eco-sensitive Zone to preserve its ecology and environment. Within the depression of the park there is a small shallow man-made lake which is supplied by good rainfall runoff) it is covered with marshy vegetation and its depth varies from 4.5 metres (15 ft) in the monsoon months to 1.8–2.7 metres (5 ft 11 in–8 ft 10 in) during the summer. Within this lake there are several platforms and also mounds covered with bushes and some trees. The area around the lake is farmland. There is also a temple on the periphery of the sanctuary.
The sanctuary experiences three climatic seasons: summer (March–June), monsoon (July–September) and winter (October –February). Normal rainfall is an average of 582 millimetres (22.9 in) per year. Temperatures experienced in the sanctuary are a maximum of 45 °C (113 °F) in the summer and a low of 30 °C (86 °F) during winter.
The sanctuary is about 20 kilometres (12 mi) to the west of Kurukshetra University in the Kurukshetra district of Kurukshetra. According to a local legend, the lake in the sanctuary had an ancient link during the epic Mahabharata days when the Pandavas escaped to Haridwar through a tunnel under the lake.
Dry deciduous type vegetation is dominant in the sanctuary. The tree species identified are the: Acacia arabica, Azadirachta indica, Prosopis cineraria, eucalyptus, Ficus benghalensis, Zizyphus jujuba, Prosopis juliflora, Cassia tora, Ficus religiosa, Dalbergia sissoo. Small and medium-sized woody plants found are Capparis decidua, Calotropis procera, Adhatoda vasica, Alhagi maurorum and Xanthium strumarium. Weeds have also been noted in the sanctuary and these are Achyranthes aspera, Amaranthus spinosus, Boerhavia diffusa, Chenopodium ambrosioides , Malvastrum, and Parthenium. Some of the aquatic plant species recorded are Azolla, Cyperus, Hydrilla, and Typha.
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