The population of endangered migratory bird species is either decreasing or stable, but the central government is working to protect them during their sojourn, says Environment and Forests Minister Jayanthi Natarajan.
The number of migratory birds arriving in India depends on various factors, including habitat quality, preference and human disturbances along their migratory routes, Ms. Natarajan said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
However, as per the latest Asian Waterbird Census coordinated by the Wetlands International, the population of threatened migratory birds in the entire flyway region, which includes Central Siberia, Mongolia, Central Asian republics, Iran, Afghanistan, the Gulf and the Indian subcontinent, is either decreasing or stable.
Ms. Natarajan said the central government is providing financial and technical assistance to specialised institutions like the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) for conducting studies to monitor the populations of important bird species and their habitat.
WII, BNHS and SACON are monitoring migratory birds in the Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur in Rajasthan. BNHS is also working in Point Calimere in Andhra Pradesh.
In Himachal Pradesh’s Pong Dam wetlands, one of the largest manmade wetlands in northern India, the BNHS is tracking the migratory routes of the barheaded goose and some duck species through satellite.
A study on the status of trans-Himalayan and Himalayan birds, including migratory ones, is being conducted by the WII.
Crossing national and international boundaries, millions of migratory birds descend in India to avoid the extreme winter chill in their native habitats.
According to “Handbook on Indian Wetland Birds and their Conservation”, written by scientists of the Dehradun-based Zoological Survey of India, of the 1,230 species found in the Indian subcontinent, nearly 350 are migrants.
The most abundant winter migrants to the Indian subcontinent are ducks and geese. Both constitute about 85 per cent of the population.
The book says the birds go by celestial navigation. The birds possess sensory objects that can trace the waves generated by earth’s magnetic field. The migration starts when the winds are favourable, mostly at dusk.