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Pollution,poaching keep away birds from Harike

Rise in pollution levels,dying natural habitats and threat of poaching have led to a decrease in the number of migratory birds at the Harike wetland.

Written by Dharmendra Rataul | Harike |
January 7, 2010 11:15:46 pm

Rise in pollution levels,dying natural habitats and threat of poaching have led to a decrease in the number of migratory birds at the Harike wetland. Spread over 100 square kilometres,the wetland attracts lakhs of birds from Central Asia and trans-Russian region every year.

Although there has been no scientific head count,bird watchers have observed a decline in the number and variety of birds visiting the wetland.

A creeper water plant hyacinth has spread in the lake,covering 40 per cent of the water body,leaving less space for the birds to nest and feed.

Little efforts have been made to remove these plants.

“Most of the rare varieties of birds have stopped coming due to the rising pollution in the Satluj,” said environmentalist Dr A S Mahal.

Honourary Wildlife Warden and bird watcher Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa said shrinking nesting space and poaching had proved to be detrimental,he added.

He said the wildlife department recently recovered nets and boats used by the poachers and an inquiry was being conducted.

Harpal Singh,Member of Nature Care Society,a local NGO,said the wetland had been home to lakhs of migratory birds for centuries but hyacinth infestation,tall grasses and other weeds have spread out,reducing the number.

“The wetland could be developed as a tourist attraction but the wildlife and forest officers have done little in this regard,” he said.

The wildlife officials admitted that there was a shortage of staff and funds but efforts were being made to save the water body with the available resources.

The migratory birds found at Harike include bar-headed geese,gray-back geese,melard duck,spintale duck,torchid,varieties of avifauna,pelicans,flamingoes,teals and variety of cranes from different parts of Europe and northern parts of Russia including the Siberian region.

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