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Migratory birds at Pong Dam to be tracked with radio collars

Himachal Pradesh’s wildlife department has decided to radio-collar migratory birds — thousands of these arrive at Pong Dam lake and the state’s other wetlands every year,especially during the winter months.

Written by Ashwani Sharma | Shimla |
January 3, 2011 12:53:59 am

Himachal Pradesh’s wildlife department has decided to radio-collar migratory birds — thousands of these arrive at Pong Dam lake and the state’s other wetlands every year,especially during the winter months. To begin with,only three popular species of migratory birds — bar-headed goose,ruddy shelduck and mallard — will be strapped with the tiny device (transmitter) used for monitoring the movement of the bird.

Till now,wildlife scientists and officials have been using GPS (global positioning system) tracking for wildlife. This is,perhaps,the first time when the department has chosen to study migratory patterns of the birds,a large number of which come from trans-Himalayan zones and places like Siberia,Russia,Central Asia and the Tibet region.

Himachal’s Additional Chief Secretary (Forests) Avay Shukla — who retired on December 31 — said,“Radio-collaring migratory birds will help the state generate authentic data on the pattern of their migration,locations and the altitudes these birds cross before arriving at Pong Dam. The project,which will be of four to five years’ duration,will cost Rs 40 lakh”.

For this,the Himachal Pradesh government has decided to collaborate with Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) — the largest NGO engaged in conservation,research and scientific documentation of the natural wealth of the country,besides protection of the environment and sustainable use of natural resources.

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“Some preliminary discussions have already been held on the proposal. We will be targeting a total of 10 birds of the three species (bar-headed goose,ruddy shelduck,mallard). Three each of two species and four of one species”,Dr S Balachandran,BNHS’s Assistant Director,told The Indian Express.

Dr Balachandran said,“Pong Dam in Himachal Pradesh attracts birds from different parts of the high latitude regions,including the Arctic region (Central and North East Siberia),Northern China and Mongolia,and from Eastern Europe. Birds migrating to southern India also utilise Pong Dam wetland as a stopover site,while returning to their northern breeding ground located in the regions outside India.”

Although this kind of study has already been undertaken in other parts of India two years ago,this is the first time when such a study is proposed in Himachal,Dr Balachandran said.

Chief Wildlife Warden AK Gulaati said the proposal is pending with the government for a final go -ahead. “Once funds are sanctioned,we will get into action immediately,” he said,claiming that the earlier project of radio-collaring a female leopard had proved successful in the state.

Pong Dam — a man-made lake created by building a dam to carry water to Rajasthan — was declared a wetland of national importance in 1994,and was accorded international status as a ‘Ramsar Site’ in November,2002. It is nestled in the Kangra region below the Dhauladhar ranges,it’s a resting place for more than a lakh birds,such as the common pochard,common teal,northern pintail,bar-headed goose,tufted duck,large cormorant and the ruddy shelduck that visit the lake every year.

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