Birdwatchers identify habitats under threat

August 23, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 09:40 am IST - Bidar:

A recent meeting of birdwatchers in Bidar identified some bird habitats that are under threat from destruction of waterbodies, deforestation and real estate development in the district.

The backwaters of Karanja reservoir that host thousands of migratory and other birds is a hunting ground for miscreants. Hunters lay nets or shoot birds, injuring and killing them. Even the rare ones are not spared.

“This has not stopped even after local wildlife enthusiasts complained to the authorities. The backwaters cover a semi-circular area of over 30 km and have several shrubs, grasslands and tall trees along it. Once in a few years, the whole area remains submerged and villagers move away. But during other years, the area becomes a marshy land and farmers and hunters come back,” says Vivek Krishnamurthy, Bidar-based wildlife enthusiast, who attended the meeting.

The biggest threat is to the grasslands bordering the Chitta forest. They are home to blackbucks and bird species such as Great Indian Bustard and the Lesser Florican.

While some parts are being developed into residential layouts, some land is lost to the ring road. Industries are being set up in portions and laterite mining is lapping up some of the area. These should be stopped to protect the grasslands, says Abhishek Chintamani, another birdwatcher. Even a natural spring in the area is threatened as the inflow channels are being blocked by removing stones and soil and filling up the stream’s bed, he said.

Deputy Commissioner Anurag Tewari said the district administration was thinking of ways to protect the area. We have surveyed the area and found out that some of it is revenue land, some land was given away to the industries department and some portion is forestland. We are considering the options of asking the industries department to develop it into a park or green space, not allowing setting up of industries or developing a park or bio reserve jointly by the City Municipal Council and Forest Department. We may even consider transferring the land to the Indian Air Force and ask them to protect it as grassland, he said.

On a positive note, they have identified at least 120 types of birds, including the Great Indian Bustard and the Lesser Florican, Grey Wagtail and Barn Swallow, Green Sandpiper and Ruddy Turnstone.

The wildlife enthusiasts have said they would submit a memorandum to the district administration seeking protection of the habitats. “We will also send a documented list of birds in the district to the Forest Department,” they said.

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