60,000 migratory birds flock to Orissa’s Chilika lake

November 11th, 2008 - 11:21 am ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Nov 11 (IANS) More than 60,000 migratory birds from places as far as Siberia and Iraq have flocked to Orissa’s Chilika lake - India’s largest brackish water lagoon - since last month and the number of birds is expected to go up as the winter intensifies.”Of the nearly 60,000 birds, 20,000 were sighted in the lake’s Nalabana island alone,” Sudarsan Panda, chief executive of the Chilika Development Authority, told IANS.

Chilika is about 100 km from here and is spread across the three districts of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam along the east coast. It was declared one of the six wetlands of international importance for Arctic and Central Asian waterfowl by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Every year about a million migratory birds from places like Siberia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Himalayas come to the lake during winter. The birds start coming to the lake in the second week of October and stay up to March.

“This year they came in the third week of October. This time there has been a delay of seven-eight days. This may be due to some climatic change or they might have spotted water and stopped for some time while coming here. The number of birds is likely to rise with increase in intensity of winter,” said Panda.

The state government has taken several steps to protect the birds. More than 5,000 people, including villagers and wildlife officials, are engaged in ensuring that the birds move freely without any threat.

“We have formed bird protection committees involving people of nearby villages and 17 NGOs and deployed several patrolling squads,” he said.

People engaged in the protection of the birds have also been told to monitor sick birds.

“Sick birds would be brought to a rescue centre where they will be given treatment by a specialised medical team,” Panda said.

The water spread of Chilika varies between 1,165 and 906 sq km during the monsoon and the summer respectively. A 32-km-long narrow channel connects the lagoon to the Bay of Bengal.

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