Even as most of migratory birds’ habitats in Punjab have recorded a decline in the number of winged visitors, the Keshopur Chhamb Community Reserve has shown an encouraging trend with more than 20,000 birds visiting here.
“With more than 20,000 winged visitors, the Keshopur Chhamb qualifies to be declared as a Ramsar site as per the Ramsar Convention, which will mark this wetland as an international birdwatching site together with three other sites in Punjab,” said Rajesh Mahajan, divisional forest officer (DFO-wildlife).
The DFO said his teams had counted 20,497 birds of various species — sarus crane, painted stork, ferruginous pochard, wooly-necked stork, black headed ibis, bar-headed goose, which is definitely more in number as compared to last year.
A large number of migratory birds from Central and North Asia and Siberia visit Rupnagar, Kanjli, Harike and Keshopur wetlands and stay for almost six months, where their number is counted to keep a tab on their movement and behaviour every year.
As per a survey of Wetland International’s South Asia wing, a global NGO, which helps restore and sustain wetlands under its project ‘Asian Water Birds Census’, Ropar, Kanjli and Harike wetlands have shown a decline in the number of migratory birds, said Mahajan.
The census result of Keshopur, however, has brought smiles on the faces of wildlife officials. “This year, the trend is positive here, and we expect a rise in the numbers next year too,” said Mahajan.
“We had started the census on January 23 with 35 people, including personnel from WWF (World Wild Fund); Avian Habitat and Wetland Society, Chandigarh; Chandigarh Bird Club; and wildlife officials. As we started compiling data, the number turned out to be more than 20,000. The figure is sufficient to claim the status of Ramsar site, which is encouraging for us,” he added.
When asked about the decline in the number of migratory birds at other habitats in the state, Mahajan said: “Habitat development works at various sites for the past two years might have attracted migratory birds at different sites. We are happy with increasing number of these beautiful birds and their viewers at Keshopur,” he concluded.