There is no doubt that Saras count has gone up in the state as compared to the last census.
But the declining number of the state bird in the so-called ‘Saras belt’ all across the state has set alarm bells ringing in the state forest department.
Although the Saras count has gone up by more than 5000 in the state as compared to the last census, in the Etah Forest Division (a part of ‘Saras belt’ ), the number has gone down by 453.
In the census carried out in 2003, the Saras count in Etah was 1052. But in census conducted in July last, it came down to 599. In Lucknow-Awadh forest division, the count has come down by 27.
There are 84 forest divisions in the state and the Saras census was carried out in July last in all these divisions, after a gap of seven years.
In another Saras hub, Mathura, the count of the state bird has gone down by 236.
The grim scenario of the depleting population of Saras in other strongholds does not end here. In Firozabad, Farukkhabad, Agra, Ghaziabad, Basti, Kushi Nagar, Rampur, Meerut, Lalitpur, Kaushambhi, Muzaffarnagar and other forest divisions also, the Saras count has come down. Out of 84 forest divisions in the state, Saras count has come down in 22 divisions. There are as many as 18 forest divisions, where no Saras had been spotted in both 2003 and the last census.
State convenor of the Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN) Neeraj Srivastava said, “Periodical monitoring of Saras and its habitats must be done in all divisions where the Saras population has come down substantially.”
We should find out whether depleting wetlands or crop pattern had led to the decline in Saras population in many divisions, he added.