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Problems of identification of camera-trapped tigers
Indian Wildlife - challenges in the new millennium
The greying of India
On the road to extinction
A Tribute to Rumbha - the elephant  
State development project threatens state bird - Sarus
Shahtoosh ban gains momentum worldwide
The road to disaster
Killing nilgais in the name of crop protection
Warring NGO's may spell doom for the tiger
Where have all the sparrows gone?
Cuckoos that fly out of crows' nests
Corbett park woes continue to mount
A question on post mortem examinations in the wild
Is it time to 'cry wolf' again?
Lifting of US sanctions may boost wildlife conservation
Migratory waterfowl may be hit by war in Afghanistan
UP wetlands to provide improved habitat to waterfowl
Anthrax as a potent wildlife killer
Man-elephant conflict takes heavy toll
Demoiselle cranes fly to safety in India
How long lasting are conservation victories
Fake tiger skins : a knotty disguise
Who cares for the wild here anyway?
A tribute to Charger - the long living tiger
Draining of wetlands threatening wildlife
Wildlife management needs rapid response units
Dudhwa loses another tiger
Indian Wildlife Board meets after five years

Hindustan Times, Lucknow | October 17, 2001


UP wetlands may provide improved habitats to migratory waterfowl in future

There was a time - not so long ago, it seems when the onset of winter brought in its wake a great annual event, that of flock after flock of migrating ducks and geese flying overhead. Those of us who have been interested witnesses to this unique phenomena will never fail to remember the feeling of happiness evoked by the sight of the V-formation of greylag and bar-headed geese flying languorously on moonlit nights, and the intermittent sounds of their raucous honking wafting down as they passed overhead. Interspersed with their passage were the flocks of other waterfowl like the teals, pintails, pochards and mallards, whose flights seemed to be more frantic, as though they were in a hurry to reach their destination before it was too late.

Those were happy times, when nights were not spent in the claustrophobic confines of modern bedrooms, but sleeping out in the open verandahs and courtyards of sprawling homes, which gave us the opportunity of watching these migratory birds being urged on strongly by their deep homing instinct.

Today, rapid urbanisation and changed lifestyles may not give us the pleasure of sighting these migratory waterfowl in flight, but they still arrive as they did in the past, to spend the winters in the lakes and jheels spread across the country. It is these wetlands that are their temporary homes for the birds, as they fly into India from the northern countries to escape the harsh and snowy winters there.

Apart from being important for the migratory waterfowl, the importance of wetlands lies in the fact that they are highly productive ecosystems not only for the migrants but also for endemic species of fauna and flora that are dependent on them all year round. They constitute a natural system for regulating monsoon run-offs by absorbing water and therefore reducing flood risks. The presence of water and essential nutrients in wetlands makes them a dynamic source of life to a huge bio-diversity that exists within them.

Considering the importance of wetlands, both government agencies and conservation organizations are undertaking various projects for their conservation. One such ongoing joint project of the Ministry of Environment & Forests and UNDP has been awarded to the Coimbatore based Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology & Natural History (SACON). This project is aimed at identification, conservation and enhancing sustainable use of globally significant wetlands of India, including those in Uttar Pradesh.

Under this project, more than 700 wetlands of over 2.25 hectares in size, will be surveyed and mapped, and then prioritized on the basis of their water quality and biodiversity values - mainly waterfowl, aquatic vegetation and fish. Based on that priority, conservation measures will be launched to enhance their quality and sustainability for the biodiversity dependent on them.

Since the state of Uttar Pradesh is also richly endowed with a number of wetlands spread uniformly over all the districts, this project will go a long way in improving the sustainability of about 30 to 50 wetlands which are expected to qualify for selection.

It is understandable that such a project is of a large magnitude and therefore would require enormous manpower and inter-institutional collaboration. In order to fulfill this requirement, SACON has invited the participation of large number of institutions and individuals from all over India. State-level coordinators have been identified for each state, and have been entrusted the work of coordinating field studies in their respective states.

For Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal, this assignment will be conducted by Dr Arun Kumar, Joint Director of the Zoological Survey of India, Dehradun. He proposes to hold a one-day workshop at Dehradun in November, in order to identify a set of 30-50 wetlands, as well as institutions and individuals to carry out field studies during December 2001 and January 2002. The field study would be for a period of 3 days, to be held simultaneously at each wetland, and involve the collection of data on pre-determined parameters.

It would be a good opportunity for enthusiastic individuals from across the state to contribute to the success of this project. Maybe sometime in the future, their contribution would help in improving the habitat of migratory waterfowl in the state, and earn them gratitude from the birds.