Bird flu scare: Public entry banned at Harike sanctuary

  • Gaurav Sagar Bhaskar, Hindustan Times, Ferozepur
  • Updated: Dec 20, 2014 12:28 IST

The entry of visitors has been banned into the Harike Wildlife Sanctuary (HWS) in view of the bird flu scare among local as well as migratory birds.

“Even though there is nothing to panic at this stage, but as precautionary measures, the entry of all, including bird watchers, has been prohibited into the sanctuary while an “hawk’s eye was kept on the birds into the sanctuary which had thronged here due to dip in mercury here,” disclosed Neeraj Gupta, divisional forest officer (wildlife), Ferozepur.

“An alert had been sounded and after every hour, a report from the field staff is being taken. In the last few days, no bird had been found with illness or sudden death. In case any such would happen, they would collect the samples and send the same to the forensic laboratory,” he said.

“More than sixty percent of migratory birds (about 70,000) had arrived while full strength would be counted by January 15,” added Gupta.

HWS is situated 65 km from Ferozepur on the Ferozepur-Amritsar road, is the most important and largest sanctuary in the state.

Located in the western corner of the state, it covers three districts of Amritsar, Ferozepur and Kapurthala.

The wetland ecosystem of Harike lies on the confluence of the Beas and Sutlej and the main water body (reservoir) came into existence when a barrage was constructed across the confluence of the two rivers in 1952.

The government, in 1976, declared it a “closed area” and in 1982, declared it a wildlife sanctuary for five years.

The final notification of the wetland as a sanctuary, as per provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, came in 1999.

It was declared a Ramsar site by the International Body of Wetlands under the UNDP in 1990.

The National Committee on Wetlands, Mangroves and Coral Reefs of the union ministry of environment and forests, too, identified it as one of the wetlands for special conservation action.

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