Migratory Birds On The Wane

A member of the survey team (inset) tries to capture images of migratory birds. Image Credit: Sangai Photo

IMPHAL, Feb 2: There has been a significant decline in the number of migratory birds coming to Loktak Lake this year. The exact rate of decline, however, may be known in the next couple of days.

Under the supervision of Wild Life Wing of the Forest Department, Government of Manipur, a team of environmentalists and ornithologists including Assistant Director of Bombay Natural History Society Dr S Balachandran today joined hands with members of local clubs and Sangai Protection Forum in conducting a field survey to count number of migratory birds coming to Loktak lake and other surrounding swamplands.

The service of 60 volunteers was pressed into ser- vice for conducting the bird counts at 25 identified spots where migratory birds normally flock.

In addition to the field survey by volunteers in 25 identified spots, another team led by Dr Balachandran and comprising of officials from Wild Life Wing and experts used motorboats to count the number of migratory birds covering 20 sq km of the lake portion on the northern side of Sendra as well the Tangjeng area of Thoubal district.

Normally, thousands of migratory birds of various types landed in group in search of food and shelter within the said 20 sq km.

But in the field survey today, the team was disappointed to come across that the number of migratory birds this time was not even 200. Further disappointment waited the survey team at Tangjeng Khunjao in Thoubal district as well when they could count only 57 Thangong Angangbi, a type of water fowl. The survey team, however, was happy to know that the people of the area have been taking up necessary measures to protect the migratory birds even to the extent of imposing fine upto Rs 500 against anybody who kill or disturb the migratory birds.

Officials of the Wild Life Wing have expressed hope that the number of migratory birds coming to Tangjeng Khunou as well as in Loktak and its surrounding areas may be increased at least to some level if measures being taken up by the local residents of Tangjeng are emulated in other places as well.

On the decline in the number of migratory birds coming to Loktak and its surrounding area, Dr Balachandran and other experts opined that it may be due to various factors like the ongoing exercise of clearing Phumdis from Loktak, rise in the water level of Loktak and frequent intrusion of people inside the lake and other swamplands that have resulted in disturbing the eco-system and the natural habitat of these migratory birds. Even if the ongoing Phumdi clearing exercise on Loktak Lake has given some impact, the experts, however, are optimistic that the number of migratory birds may gradually increase once the exercise is over.

As the survey reports conducted by the volunteers in 25 identified spots have to be accumulated and studied together, it may take a couple of days on the exact rate of decline in the visit of migratory birds this year, the experts said, adding that even if there may not be cent percent accuracy, the report would be 90 percent accurate. It is said that around 1910 to 1932, more than 30 types of migratory birds could be seen coming to Loktak every year. But now-a- days, experts said that no other types beside Nganu Tingri, Thoidingnam, Nganu Perel, Porong, Uthit and Ura could be seen.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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