Density of bird species drops sharply at Okhla Sanctuary | Delhi News

New Delhi: Indicating a grim picture of habitat health, Okhla Bird Sanctuary has seen a drastic drop in bird species density this season. According to the 2022 annual Asian waterbird census carried out by Wetlands International, only 47 species of migratory and resident birds have been sighted compared to 73 last year. This is the lowest species density in five years.
Although birds in Okhla numbered 9,243 this birding season compared to 8,068 last season, experts at Friday’s census noted that this was not a “cheering point” as a the only migratory species – the northern shoveler – had arrived in groups “a few days ago” to make up the numbers.
Okhla Bird Sanctuary is one of India’s 467 ‘Important Bird Areas’. But bird watchers have complained about habitat degradation there. The sanctuary is part of the Central Asian Flyway Wetlands and generally attracts a diversity of migratory species, but not this season.
“During the census, we saw a drastic decrease in species density although there was a slight increase in the number of birds compared to last year,” revealed TK Roy, environmentalist and AWC Delhi coordinator. , Wetlands International. However, it is not a question of joy. The situation until the end of December was quite dismal until flocks of shovelers arrived and added to the total number of birds.
Roy added that due to the impact of climate change such as a delayed winter, migration was slower and fewer migratory waterfowl arriving from far central Asia and North Asia, including the Russia and the Siberian region.
Of 47 species of waterbirds observed during the census, 21 were resident and local migratory species, the remainder being long-distance migratory species. Four bird species on the IUCN Red List have been spotted compared to eight last year. Endangered species were the black-headed ibis, common pochard, rusty duck and river lapwing.
The low density of species is not limited to the Okhla Bird Sanctuary. AWC 2022, which counts birds in eight NCR hotspots, also noted a similar decline in other wetlands. At Lake Sanjay in East Delhi too, there were only 13 species compared to 17 last year. In the Dhanauri wetland in GB Nagar – nominated as a Ramsar site and India’s first Sarus crane sanctuary by the UP forestry department – density was lower with only 30 species recorded this season compared to 48 in last year.
The census has not yet been carried out in Sultanpur National Park (Haryana), Najafgarh Jheel (Haryana and Delhi), Yamuna River (Delhi), Surajpur (UP) and National Zoological Park (Delhi).

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