While Okhla Bird Sanctuary has seen bird population almost double this year, Surajpur wetland in Greater Noida has seen a 38% dip in bird population. The number of unique species in the wetland decreased from 42 to 35 between 2017 and 2018, the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) has found.
For the second year in a row, the census has found Uttar Pradesh’s state bird — Sarus Crane — missing. Pinning one of the reason for their sudden disappearance to the shift to cultivation of sugarcane instead of paddy, ecologists said that earlier, 30 per cent of the country’s 10,000-strong Sarus Crane used to reside in UP.
Ecologist T K Roy, who is also the Delhi coordinator of AWC, said that the Surajpur wetland is “covered with water hyacinth” — a “major reason” for the dip in bird population.
Ecologists also explained that the dip in the population is also representative of the numerous problems plaguing the reserve forest — an eco-park project halted by the court and continual dumping of toxic effluents in the area.
As a result, Roy said, “We have recorded lesser species diversity. At present, there are 35 species of water birds and a total population of 1,920. This includes seven species of threatened birds in comparison to previous years. Of the 35 species, 18 are resident water birds — one local migratory bird and 17 winter migratory water birds.”
The most spotted species was the Common Teal — whose numbers have decreased by almost half, from 910 in 2017 to 501 now.
However, all birds under IUCN Red List threatened species like the Wooly-necked Stork, Black-necked Stork, Black-headed Ibis, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Pochard, Painted Stork: and the Greater Spotted Eagle were spotted.
The AWC 2018 for Delhi region is being carried out at six important wetlands — Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Surajpur Wetland, Najafgarh Drain and Jheel, River Yamuna, Sanjay Lake and National Zoological Park.