THE NAWABGANJ jheel has dried up, thanks to scanty rainfall. As a result, the picturesque bird sanctuary may not have its annual ‘visitors’ this winter.
“The sanctuary did not receive enough rainfall to fill up the jheel. It may not attract birds this season (November-March), or there may be just a few,” said chief wildlife warden Mohammad Ahsan.
Situated on the Lucknow-Kanpur highway, the Nawabganj sanctuary used to be home to 250 species of resident and migratory birds.
Birds from Siberia, Central Asia and Tibet flocked to it every year. Among them were: Sarus crane, black-necked stork, spoon bill, pheasant-tailed jacana, bronze-winged jacana, purple moorhen, white-breasted water hen, Indian moorhen, grebe, cormorant darter, lapwing, egret, vulture, kite, koel, dove, painted stork, white ibis, black ibis, dabchick, whistling teal, open-billed stork, white-necked stork, pigeon, king-crow, golden oriole, babbler, bee-eater, parakeet, finch, peacock, common pochard, mallards, wigeons, common teals, shovellers, and marbled teals.
Nature lover Vikrant Nath, a regular visitor over the past 15 years, said, “There is nothing at Nawabganj now, but dirt and grime.” The sanctuary was at its best till January 2003, he recalled.
But after 2003, UP received scanty rainfall, leaving the wetlands dry and compelling migratory birds to stay away, he said. The jheels of Lucknow are now concrete jungles. Neeraj Srivastava, bird watcher and member of the Indian Bird Conservation Network, said water hyacinth was the main cause of destruction of the sanctuary.
The sanctuary had a huge marshland and a shallow lake bordered by a mixed dry forest, he said.