Keshopur Chamb in Gurdaspur, one of Asia’s biggest wetlands, has received a record number of migratory birds since 2011.
A bird census conducted January 23 pegged the number of avians that have arrived this year at 25,302. The number was 20,400 last year. Significantly, this year’s arrival is six times of 2011 when the wetland saw only 4,500 birds.
Nearly 72 species have been spotted at the wetland this year. “Even two pairs of Sarus Crane, which is an endangered variety and was no longer sighted in Punjab, were seen. They have started making their permanent abode here,” said Rajesh Mahajan, the divisional forest officer, Wildlife, Pathankot.
Rare varieties, including red-crested pochard, northern lapwing, painted stork and black headed ibis, were spotted in the wetland in the course of the census.
The census was conducted by experts from World Wildlife Federation (WWF), Avian Habitat and Wetland Society and Chandigarh Bird Club, Punjab Heritage and Tourism Board and Punjab wildlife department.
Mahajan attributed the increase in bird count to the removal of water hyacinth, following which the surface area for birds to create their habitats increased.
He also said they have cleared all the encroachments from the wetland spread over 850 acres.
Sources in the wildlife department said the bird count in almost all other wetlands in Punjab has not shown any increase. They said it was due to dense vegetation and encroachment. Hari Ke Pattan is threatened by land sharks with sources claiming that some ruling party leaders have encroached its its land and made small bandhs (dams) for farming.
Kanjli wetland in Kapurthala has hardly seen migratory birds for the past many years due to its poor upkeep.