JAMMU, Jan 23: As part of the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC), a special census to record the number and diversity of water birds was conducted at key wetlands of Jammu & Kashmir. The two week long survey was jointly coordinated by Wetlands International, Department of Wildlife Protection, Government of Jammu & Kashmir, WWF-India and Wildlife Conservation and Birds Club of Ladakh (WCBCL). The survey formally concluded today at Gharana Wetland, the key bird habitat of J&K.
Official sources said the AWC is part of the global International Waterbird Census (IWC). This citizen-science programme is supporting conservation and management of wetlands and waterbirds worldwide. The result of the census and information generated during the survey is used to promote national waterbird and wetland conservation and international cooperation along the Central Asian Flyway.
At Gharana wetland in Jammu the survey team led by Rohit Rattan of WWF-India recorded 37 species of water birds which included a good number of Common Cranes and Greylag Goose. In this survey at Gharana besides the staff members of wildlife department the research scholars of Jammu University also participated.
At Mansar lake, the survey team led by Neeraj Baru of the Wildlife Department recorded 20 species of waterbirds. Similarly at Surinsar the survey team led by Pushpinder Singh Jamwal of WWF-India recorded 14 species of waterbirds.
Rouf Zargar, Wildlife Warden Wetlands Kashmir informed that at present there are more than 1.5 lakh waterbirds at Hokersar and their numbers will increase in the coming weeks. The key species which were recorded at the wetlands of Kashmir included Pintails and Mallards. In Ladakh besides freezing cold the survey was conducted at two key wetlands near Leh and participants recorded 12 species of waterbirds. Lobzang Visuddha of WCBCL (Wildlife Conservation & Birds Club of Ladakh) who led the survey team in Ladakh informed that more than 300 mallards and some Red-crested Pocahrd and Ibisbill were among the 12 species of water birds reccored in Ladakh.
Giving details about the programme Suresh Chugh, Chief Wildlife Warden said that every January thousands of volunteers across Asia visit wetlands in their nearby areas and count waterbirds. This event is called Asian Waterbird Census. He hoped that such coordianted surveys besides supporting bird conservation will also help in building the capacity of the frontline staff of the department.
Dr. V S Senthil Kumar, Regional Wildlife Warden Jammu, who was part of the survey team expressed the hope that such suverys besides providing the scientific information also help in raising the profile of wetlands as key habitat of water birds.
Dr. Pankaj Chandan of WWF – India who cordinated the survey in Jammu & Kashmir said that many significant records of birds were made during this year’s AWC. He hoped that the information generated during these surveys will help in designing the conservation and management strategies for the wetlands of Jammu & Kashmir.
Prominent members of the survey team who participated and supported the survey included Priyanka Sareen, Wildlife Warden Kathua, Amit Sharma, Wildlife Warden, Jammu, T K Roy, Zakir Hussain, Sudesh Kumar, Asha Sohil, Manoj Kumar, Dev Raj, Bachan Kumar, Tsewang Rigzin, Mohd. Kazim, Tsewang Dorje and Tashi Chotak.