Maharana Pratap Sagar, also known as Pong Reservoir or Pong Dam Lake was created in 1975, by building the highest earthfill dam in India on the Beas River in the wetland zone of the Shiwalik Hills of the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. Named in the honour of Maharana Pratap, the lake is a well-known wildlife sanctuary and one of the 26 international wetland sites declared in India by the Ramsar Convention. The reservoir covers an area of around 40 km in length and 2 km in width, and the wetlands portion is 15,662 hectares (38,700 acres).
The Pong Dam is an important fishing reservoir. A wide variety of commercially viable fish, 27 species of 5 families, such as mahseer (golden 'rare'), catla, mirror carp, singhara (native) and others are found in abundance. Before the reservoir was built, catfishes, mirror carps and a few coarse fish were the dominant fish fauna in the Beas River. With the emergence of the reservoir, commercial fishing was encouraged as an important programme not only to provide employment to about 1500 fishermen but also to promote the eco-tourism.
It was declared a Ramsar Wetland site on account of its rich waterfowl diversity for conservation and sustainable use of the wetland. The Dam attracts migratory birds from the plains of India and Central Asian countries and Siberia. More than 220 bird species of 54 families have been recorded over the years. Around 1,05,000 waterfowl of 87 species were spotted during the three-day census conducted from February 2, 2017. Ornithologists from the Bombay Natural History Society, the Chandigarh Bird Club, the Himachal Bird Club, the Asian Waterfowl Census, wildlife enthusiasts, bird watchers and volunteers participated in the dawn-to-dusk bird counting exercise.
The reservoir peripheral land area has mixed perennial and deciduous pine forests on hills. The forest growth provides enough sustenance to the migratory birds. The tree species of the forest area are acacia, jamun, shisham, mango, mulberry, ficus, kachanar, amla and prunus. A variety of shrubs, grasses and climbers also make the place their home.
The periphery above the water surface area of the reservoir has recorded fauna species such as barking deer, sambar, wild boars, leopards and oriental small-clawed otters.