Nearly one lakh winged visitors arrive at Bengal sanctuary

September 21, 2018 12:00 am | Updated 05:03 am IST - Kolkata

In a first, Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary recorded 98,532 birds this year; presence of water bodies make their stay comfortable

Open-billed storks at the Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary.Special arrangement

Open-billed storks at the Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary.Special arrangement

The number of winged visitors at the Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal’s Uttar Dinjapur district has crossed all previous records. As per a census carried out by the State Forest Department, the wildlife sanctuary, spread over 130 hectares, recorded 98,532 birds this year.

Record high

“This the highest number of birds which has visited Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary over the past several years. What is encouraging is that the number of migratory birds is increasing every year,” Dwiparna Kumar Dutta, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Raignaj, told The Hindu .

According to Mr Dutta, the sanctuary has one of the highest numbers of Openbill stork population not only in India but in Asia and this makes the sanctuary unique. “Of the 98,000 birds about 67,000 are Openbill storks. Then there are cormorants, night herons, little egrets, flycatchers, owls and other species,” he said.

Birds visit the Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary in June and stay till November, when the temperature drops.

Simmering milieu

According to forest officials, the temperature in the sanctuary’s numerous water bodies remains above 40 degrees Celsius during this period.

“Because of the presence of water bodies, there is a lot of food available for the birds. They primarily feed on fishes and snails,” the DFO said. In the year 2012-13, the number of migratory birds was about 58,000. Not only has the number of birds increased, but the number of species has also increased from 50 in 2012-13 to over 120 this year.

“Of the new bird species visiting the sanctuary for the first time in 2018 are the Asian Paradise Flycatcher and Indian Pitta,” Mr. Dutta said.

The sanctuary, which is also known as the Kulik Bird Sanctuary, drawing its name from the river Kulik, attracts a large number of tourists every year, including birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. Situated near Raiganj in Uttar Dinajpur district of West Bengal, the sanctuary is home to 164 bird species.

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