Tso Kar Wetland Complex

Aerial View of the Tso Kar basin.
Panoramic view of the freshwater lake of Startsapuk Tso, situated in the Tso Kar basin.
Close up of Startsapuk Tso.
White salt efflorescence on the  bank of Tso Kar.
A car passes along the road next to Tso Kar, leading to the village of Thukje.
Pasturelands in the Tso Kar basin, during the short summer season.

Tso Kar Wetland Complex

  • Country: 
  • Site number: 
  • Area: 
    9,577 ha
  • Designation date: 
  • Coordinates: 
    33°17'N 78°00'E
Materials presented on this website, particularly maps and territorial information, are as-is and as-available based on available data and do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.


This high-altitude wetland complex is found at more than 4,500 metres above sea level in the Changthang region of Ladakh. The complex includes two connected lakes, the freshwater Startsapuk Tso and the larger hypersaline Tso Kar; it presents a notable example of two such lakes existing in close proximity. The name Tso Kar refers to the white salt efflorescence on the margins of the lake caused by the evaporation of the saline waters. The local climate is arid, and glacial meltwater is the primary water source for the lakes. The lakes and in particular the presence of fresh water attract biodiversity in a biologically sparse region. Inhabiting the Site are numerous threatened species including the endangered saker falcon (Falco cherrug) and Asiatic wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus laniger), and the vulnerable snow leopard (Panthera uncia). The Site also acts as an important stopover ground for migratory birds along the Central Asian Flyway and is one of the most important breeding areas in India for the black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis).

Administrative region: 
Nyoma Block, Leh District, Union Territory of Ladakh.

  • National legal designation: 
    • Wildlife Sanctuary - Changthang Cold Desert Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Last publication date: 


Ramsar Information Sheet (RIS)

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