It’s an alarming situation in the Nagpur district: the number of birds decline from 60% to 70% in the last 10 years due to habitat loss and other threats. The city birders enthusiastically participated in large numbers in the Water Bird Census organized by the Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board in association with Nagpur Division of Maharashtra Forest Department and Birds of Vidarbha on Saturday, 21st January 2023, and Sunday, 22nd January 2023.
Census witnessed the participation of 63 birders in 19 Teams from Birds of Vidarbha who covered 30 lakes in the Nagpur District for the purpose of the census and covered 4279 birds of which 75 numbers of species of birds were counted. Readers may recall that the first Water Bird Census was held in December 2014 and January 2015 in 2 Phases, which covered 13746 birds and 86 species of birds counted in the First Phage and 11062 birds with 77 Species in the Second Phage.
Avinash Londhe, Honorary Wildlife Warden and Founder Admin of Birds of Vidarbha informed that 60% to 70% decline in the number of birds compared to the 1st census done in the year 2014-15. Later he added that the members of the group regularly visit various places in search of birds throughout the year & members who participate in the census reported the major habitat loss on all the lakes they visited for the census.
Excess Fishing, illegal mining near lakes, pushing of birds, tree cutting on the shore of lakes, and illegal farming on the dry bed of lakes are the major threat to the habitat loss of wetlands and the breeding of shore birds. The city witnessed 1200+ Bar Headed Geese on Paradgaon Lake in the Year 2012 & 6000+ birds on a single Wena Lake. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, it was observed that 600+ to 800+ Bar Headed Geese throughout the season. During the census, some noteworthy sightings were also recorded.
The team of birders comprising Avinash Londhe, Venkatesh Mudliyar, and Parag Pawar saw a Greater Fish Eagle and Dusky Eagle Owl on the lake near Nagpur. Also recorded is a flock of 173 Bar-headed Geese (Anser indicus) on Saiki Lake by a Team led by PRO Shrikant Borkar of Govt. Institute of Science and a flock of 230 Red Crested Pochard on Koradi Lake by a Team led by Ajay Agrawal.
One noteworthy observation found during the census is the flock of 10-12 Numbers of Black Stork at Paradgaon lake is encouraging to the birders of the city. The census also saw active participation from the members of the REEF (Ramdeobaba Engineers for Environmental Forum) a team of young Engineering undergraduates from Ramdeobaba Engineering College led by Deepshikha Mehra.
The data of the birds seen during the census would be compiled by the Birds of Vidarbha from the data sheets filled up by the participants and the same would be handed over to PCCF and Member Secretary, Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board.
Further, it has been sent to National Biodiversity Authority through Dr. Vinita Vyas, Director, Maharashtra Gene Bank Project (Special Cell) (Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board) for further studies. The report was also submitted to Dr. Bharat Sing Hada Dy. Conservator of Forest, Nagpur Division of Maharashtra Forest Department for further needed action for conserving and restoring Key Lakes in the area of Territorial Forest of Nagpur Division in Nagpur District.
He also informed that the Nagpur Division of Maharashtra Forest Department along with Birds of Vidarbha and The Heritage Conservation Society is also going to organize Cleaning Drive to involve participation from the people to increase awareness about the conservation and restoration of our wetland in Nagpur District round the year.
Active participation of Dilip Deshmukh, Technical Officer, MSBB, and Kundan Hate along with Venkatesh Mudaliyar, Shirish Nakhale, and all Admins of Birds of Vidarbha resulted in the smooth and successful conduct of the Water Bird Census.