Thousands of fish died as the sanctuary went dry last summer.

Good early monsoon rains have helped in maintaining bountiful water level at Atapaka Bird Sanctuary portion of the Kolleru Lake, thus averting loss of huge quantity of fish during the extreme climatic conditions in summer.

It was not the monsoon alone, but a certain definitive plan from the Forest Department has helped maintain the water level so that sufficient fish feed is available to wined creatures that make this portion of the lake their house throughout the year.

The average water availability in the Kolleru Lake at the sanctuary, which is a Ramsar site, is at least four metres deep from the surface. The maximum depth to be attained is estimated at seven feet by June-end. “The water from Polraju Drain had been diverted into the sanctuary portion of the lake from December last year to maintain sufficient levels in summer. There was no death or loss of fish population during recent summer,” Kaikaluru Forest Range Officer V. Ratna Kumar told The Hindu.

The water level at the sanctuary had fallen to its lowest level and a few portions of the lake had even dried up during last summer. Fish in thousands died and floated in the lake while larger number of the fish population had to fight to survive,” said Mr. Ratna Kumar. Flocks of tourists, who thronged the bird sanctuary, witnessed how the locals competed to collect the dead fish in the lake last year.

Police had to guard the lake to prevent collection of fish from the lake. Learning a lesson from the fast changing climatic conditions, sufficient water level is being maintained to promise conservation of birds and fish population. “We have no hopes of too many rains despite early onset of monsoon. Even if there are no showers now, there was no need to fear about water levels in the sanctuary part of the Kolleru Lake,” said Sub Divisional Forest Officer Sk. Kalilullah.

The forest authorities also said that flocks of Pelicans, which are normally homebound by summer, did not return this year and made the Lake their home in rainy season.

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