Loktak Lake is a unique wetland and is listed as a wetland of International Importance through the Ramsar Convention treaty. The lake is distinctive due to the numerous green floating biomass (phumdis) that covers nearly two-thirds of the lake’s 236 square kilometers.
Phumdis or floating islands are comprised of vegetation, soil, and other organic matter. They change shape and size, moving around the lake surface depending on the season. The phumdis play a critical role in water cleansing, nutrient absorption, flood control, and carbon sequestration. Phumdis are home to some 425 species of animals, including the endangered “dancing deer,” over 100 species of birds, and over 200 species of aquatic plants.
Loktak Lake is home and means of livelihood to indigenous (Meiteis) families that live on Phumshangs. Some 30,000 fisher folks fish the lake. Over 100,000 people depend on the lake directly and indirectly for food and livelihood. The lake is of immense cultural, social and economic importance to some 55 communities that surround the lake. This photo essay documents how the Ithai hydroelectric dam, infrastructure projects, regional armed conflict and climate change threaten this unique ecosystem.