Oct 16, 2014
PILIBHIT: Ahead of the arrival of migratory birds from Tibet and north-western Himalayan regions, the forest department has decided to prepare a comprehensive plan for the conservation of not just the ‘guests’, but also of more than 300 species of birds which are found in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve. This is the first time a bird conservation plan will be devised in the district. Every year, thousands of birds migrate from Tibet, Leh and Ldakh in autumn and soar up to Pilibhit to stay here till the spring. The divisional forest officer of Pilibhit tiger reserve, Kailash Prakash, told TOI that more than a dozen species of birds migrate to Pilibhit in winters, including Red Pochard, Pin Tail, Barheaded goose, Grey leg goose and Common Kot. These birds flock at Sharda Sagar dam in Puranpur tehsil area, the Pasgawan and Lilhar reservoirs in Bisalpur tehsil area. Out of the three water bodies, the first two are situated in the proximity of forest regions. The maximum gathering of migratory birds is witnessed at Sharda Sagar dam which is spread across 27 kilometers, of which 5-km is in Uttarakhand. He said every year, the forest department faces a great challenge in protection and conservation of migratory birds due to massive hunting by local villagers and water sports of SSB in Sharda Sagar dam which are organized in November and December.
Trammeling of guest birds during fishing by legalized fishing contractors of Sharda Sagar dam also harms the winged creatures. He said that provisions of wildlife protection act or the preventive measures cannot be enforced against lawful fishing or the water sports of SSB. Prakash said the key factor behind the migration of birds from Tibetan and north western Himalayan regions is the ice cap that is difficult to survive. Food scarcity due to cold weather is another important reason. The climate of Tarai region also provides a wider variety of sustainable conditions to these guest birds to raise their young safely. These conditions can vary for different bird species and may involve different food sources and habitats that provide adequate shelter and breeding colonies offering greater protection than a single pair of bird parents. The DFO said that the conservation plan would include stringent action against hunters of guest birds and punitive action as well as the imposition of heavy financial penalties. The departmental staff will also keep a vigil on illegal activities of locals to control hunting. The villagers would be motivated to conserve migratory birds and special campaigns would be launched to create awarness along with enforcing the wildlife protection act in case of any illegality. He said a joint operation of PTR, WWF (India) and the forest department of Uttarakhand will also be conducted to ensure proper protection to migratory birds. The reservoirs and water bodies within the boundaries of forests would be modified to make them fit for migratory birds so that they might be attracted to gather mostly within the boundaries of forests. This alternative could be fruitful to ensure their safety without any outside hindrance, he added. The sub divisional officer of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, DP Singh, and the project manager of WWF (India) Naresh Kumar jointly told TOI that forests of PTR have more than 300 indigenous species of birds out of which 120 species have precisely been identified. The SDO said the high radiations of mobile phone towers as well as the excessive and frequent use of many prohibited pesticides, insecticides and fungicides in agriculture being carried out in villages are most harmful for the birds.
As posted in Timesofindia.indiatimes.com