Six eggs of endangered bird washed away in UP; 4 at risk | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Six eggs of endangered bird washed away in UP; 4 at risk

By, New Delhi/meerut
Jun 16, 2023 11:54 PM IST

Six Indian Skimmer eggs laid beside a barrage in Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor were washed away on Thursday due to the strong flow of water from the dam, said conservationists.

Six Indian Skimmer eggs laid beside a barrage in Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor were washed away on Thursday due to the strong flow of water from the dam, said conservationists who were observing the endangered bird, warning that four hatchlings who survived are now at risk of being submerged unless authorities limit the flow from the reservoir.

The Indian skimmer is found in the coastal estuaries of western and eastern India.
The Indian skimmer is found in the coastal estuaries of western and eastern India.

Birders and conservationists in Bijnor, who were keeping a watch on the nesting birds, said this is the second time the rare bird’s eggs were washed away from the barrage, built on the Ganga, in a month, after a current swept away 20 eggs in May.

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“Five pairs of skimmers were nesting in April and laid 20 eggs. But all 20 were washed away in May. The five pairs nested again and their six eggs were swept away on Thursday,” said birder Ashish Loya, who is leading the Wildlife Trust of India’s Nest Guardian Programme in Bijnor.

The eggs were all laid, and hatched, on a sandbar — a partially exposed ridge of sand in a water body. Four of the hatchlings remain on the sandbar, said Loya, stressing that their survival is contingent on authorities keeping the water level unchanged or ideally reducing it.

“The state irrigation department is strict about allowing the water level to go up to 10,600 cusecs. It is over 9,000 cusecs now,” Loya said.

He pointed out that the water level was between 4,000 and 5,000 cusecs over the past month and that similar levels will need to be maintained for at least the next two weeks to keep the birds safe.

The Indian skimmer is found in the coastal estuaries of western and eastern India. It resides primarily on larger, sandy, lowland rivers, around lakes and adjacent marshes and, in the non-breeding season, in estuaries and coasts.

The bird, having an estimated population of 3,700-4,400 in south Asia, according to BirdLife International 2021, has been under threat as human activities gnaw away at its habitats. According to experts, the bird’s dwindling numbers are down to the degradation of rivers and lakes through irrigation schemes, and pollution.

Officials of the UP forest department said it was aware of the threat to the hatchlings and “monitoring the situation to protect them”.

Muzaffarnagar district forest officer (DFO) Kanhaiyalal Patel said: “I spoke to the irrigation department regarding regulating the waterflow in the Ganga downstream of the Bijnor barrage so that the hatchlings can be protected… The irrigation department needs to maintain 10,600 cusecs of water to ensure water supply to irrigate hundreds of thousands of hectares of agriculture land in the region. They can store water upstream only after they get it in excess”.

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