Kendrapara, Jan 7 (LocalWire) The population of migratory bird has dropped in the Bhitarkanika National Park of Kendrapara district this winter.
The forest officials on Monday released the result of the bird census, which pegged their population at 1,09,059 . This means the population has decreased by 3878 compared to last census in 2018.
In 2018, the population of 83 species of migratory bird was estimated at 1,12,937. However in 2017, the forest officials counted only 76,268 .
In 2015, forest officials counted 81,401 birds and in 2016 , the authority sighted 1,0,6,356 birds .
The mid-winter migratory bird census is an annual affair diligently pursued by the forest officials on Sunday.
“We monitored all the water bodies and mangrove forest areas of Bhitarkanika and did proper bird survey and census, “said Bhitarkanika national park divisional forest officer (DFO) Bimal Prasan Acharya.
“We engaged 16 teams for bird counting in Bhitarkanika and found 74 species of birds,” he said.
The variety of birds included Black- winged Stilt, Avocet , Yellow- Lapwing , Spoonbill, Large Whistling duck , Bare –headed goose, Black- headed Gull, Godwit, Marsh Sandpiper, Open billed stork, Little Cormorant , Median Egret , Large Egret , Purple Heron , Night Heron , Grey Heron , Darter , White Ibis and Cattle Egret , Grey-backed Shrike , Ruddy kingfisher , Red-necked Phalarrope , Western Reef Egret , Oriental Honey Buzzard, Blue-Winged Leaf-bird, Great Thick-knee, Great Knot, Tawny Pipit , and Goliath Heron.
“The avian species used to get sufficient fish and serene environment in Satabhaya, Bagapatia, Agaranasi and other water bodies near the park in the past. But the prawn mafias destroyed the ecology of these seaside areas by converting the wetlands and the forest lands into prawn farms,” said Hemanta Rout, an environmentalist and secretary of Gahiramatha Marine Turtle and Mangrove Conservation Society (GMTMCS) of Rajnagar.
The birds that used to visit these areas include Jacanas, Moorhens, Coots, Grebe, Ducks, Geese, Cranes, Storks, Ibises, Spoonbill, Wading birds, Swallows, Fishing eagles, Osprey and Harriers to name a few.
The chirping of the birds had been stopped in these areas after the denuding mangrove forest and converting wetlands into prawn farms.
“The locals used to get fuels from the forest and fish from the wetlands but now they are also dejected persons as their livelihood is now at stake due to mushrooming of illegal prawn farms in these areas,” said Rout.
Three years back, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) declared 192 villages around Bhitarkanika National Park as Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) to prevent ecological damage caused due to developmental activities around the Bhitarkanika, known as India’s second largest mangrove forest after Sundarbans in West Bengal .
ESZ prohibits any shrimp farming within two kilometers from Bhitarkanika for which the authorities have the right t demolish all the illegal prawn farms, said Rout.
“During 1981, the noted ornithologist, Dr Salim Ali, had visited Bhitarkanika and suggested the government to declare it as a Biosphere Reserve and to get it surveyed by scientific organisations. But the suggestion has been gathering dust,” added Rout.