Species Richness Survey: Highlights
Every year, the Wildlife Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation, Punjab, conducts waterbirds census exercise in six major and most biodiverse wetlands, which include the Nangal Wildlife Sanctuary, the Ropar Conservation Reserve, the Harike Wildlife Sanctuary, the Kanjli Wetland, the Keshopur-Miani Community Reserve and the Ranjit Sagar Conservation Reserve.
- However, the census could not be done this year on account of dense fog conditions. Instead a “species richness” survey was conducted by the Department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation with the support from the WWF-India.
- According to Wetlands International (WI), waterbirds are defined as species of birds that are ecologically dependent on wetlands.
- These birds are considered to be an important health indicator of wetlands of a region.
Highlights of the survey:
- 91 species of waterbirds were recorded from the six protected wetlands.
- The waterbird count was highest in the Harike Wildlife Sanctuary followed by the Keshopur–Miani Community Reserve, Ropar Conservation Reserve and Nangal Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Wetlands like Keshopur–Miani and Shallpattan are the only wetlands in Punjab to host the migratory population of common crane and resident population of the Sarus crane.
- The Ropar and Nangal wetlands host the three migratory water species of the family Podicipedidae i.e., black-necked Grebe, Horned Grebe and Greater Crested Grebe along with the resident Little Grebe.
- Eurasian Coot was one of the most common waterbirds spotted in almost all protected wetlands of Punjab during the survey.
- The species of high conservation significance recorded during the survey include:
- Bonelli’s Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Northern Lapwing, Peregrine Falcon, Steppe Eagle, Western Black-tailed Godwit, Black-headed Ibis, Sarus Crane, Painted Stork, Woolly-necked Stork, Common Pochard, Common Crane, Ferruginous Pochard, Pallid Harrier, River Tern, Indian Spotted Eagle, River Lapwing, Oriental Darter, and Eurasian Curlew.
Central Asian flyway:
- Every winter, the birds make their way to India through the central Asian flyway, which covers a large continental area of Europe–Asia between the Arctic and the Indian Oceans.
- Central Asian Flyway (CAF) covers a large area of Eurasia between the Arctic and Indian Oceans.
- Including India, there are 30 countries under the Central Asian Flyway.
- The CAF comprises several important migration routes of waterbirds, most of which extend from the northernmost breeding grounds in Siberia to the southernmost non-breeding wintering grounds in West Asia, India, the Maldives and the British Indian Ocean Territory.