Amod kumar Saini Matriculate – M. Sc. Forest Ecology and Management Albert-Ludwig University, Freiburg, Germany Problem/major issue Degradation of Wetland due to drought conditions/ Decreasing No. of Migratory Birds in the Ghana National Bird Sanctuary, India Issue ? ? Degradation of Ghana wetland due to droughts and scanty rainfall in the region and decreasing number of migratory birds in Keoladeo Ghana National Park in India.
Problem was more severe in the year 2000,2002, 2003, 2005 and 2008,When droughts were severe and rain was very rare and villagers intervention in water supply to bird sanctuary were another reasons, Which have added the pain for migratory birds. BackgroundThe Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, known as the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, is one of the worlds most resound bird feeding and breeding grounds. ? The park is over 29 square kilometres and houses 364 species of birds, including some threatened migratory birds from central Asia. ? The sanctuary was established in 1981.
The UNESCO listed this site on the world heritage map in 1985 considering its prominence in India and abroad due to its rich flora and fauna. The sanctuary is internationally known for its migratory bird’s especially Siberian crane during winters. ? The Bharatpur Wildlife Sanctuary, of Rajasthan in India houses approximately 370 species of birds. Amongst them, the most prominent ones are Painted Storks, Open and Spoon Bills, Egrets, Cormorants, White Ibis, Jacanas, While Harriers, Fishing Eagles, Pied Kingfisher, etc. ? However, the most awaited species of birds is the Siberian Crane.
Apart from Iran, India is the only place where this bird migrates in winter. ? During the peak of summer, when the waters have all but disappeared, the reserve is carpeted in dry grasslands which offer habitat to a variety of herbivores such as chital (spotted deer), sambhar, and jackals. Also Jungle cats, hares, pythons, porcupines and mongoose are seen here in summer. Current status In present situation there is conflict between the villagers and bird sanctuary management over the distribution of canal water to bird sanctuary .
Now there is less available water for the bird sanctuary than previous years, this has made the sanctuary vulnerable for migratory birds which come here in winter for nesting and rearing. ? The most beautiful attraction of this sanctuary is Siberian crane ( Grus leucogeranus ) of crane family which come here in winter form Siberia of Russia but it has become extinct from here due to many reasons mostly because of unsuitable conditions and drying of the wetland. Last appearance of Siberian crane was observed in winter ? ? ? ? ? ? season of the year 2002.
Then after it has become extinct form this world heritage site leaving a lot to think. Due to scanty rainfall over the years all lakes in the sanctuary had dried-up, resulting in decline of migratory birds. This has made it difficult for the government to fulfil the UNESCO parameters on world heritage sites. Over the 8 years irritating rainfall all low wetland area has been dried, making it not suitable for water birds and migratory birds. The park was facing the problem of non allocation of water from Panchana Dam for the park wetland for past eight years.
This dam water is mostly used by local people for their agricultural lands and for domestic purposes. The lack of water is leading to failure of heronry, invasion of Prosopis juliflora in the wetland areas a thorny tree and ground water level is depleting fast. Environmentalists have warned that the wetland character of the famous Keoladev National Park (Ghana bird sanctuary) in Bharatpur, might be changed permanently if effective measures were not taken to improve water supply to the park wetland.
The park was facing water scarcity for the past eight years and despite demands from environmentalists and park administration, the authorities failed to provide water to the park from the dam in wake of the protests by locals in the Karauli district from where park get water supply. Key considerationsMigratory Birds ? A total of 375 species of birds including Siberian cranes visited the Park in the early days, out of which 111 were migratory species and 264 were resident species. Decrease in number of birds ?
One of the most important reasons for the decrease in the number of migratory birds visiting Keoladeo National Park is the shortage of water in the park. The main sources of water to the park are a temporary reservoir, viz, the Ajan dam that gets water from the River Gambhir. The construction of Panchana dam across the river Gambhir has added to the misery. Fragile Ecosystem ? Keoladeo National Park has a dynamic and fragile ecosystem. The source of water, its quantity and quality are major factors affecting the wetland of the Park.
Water from the Ajan Dam is supplied by the irrigation department to the park. ? The time of releases of water to the park is vital for growth of aquatic plants, breeding of heronry species and the overall seasonality of factor in survival of wetlands. ? The years 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004 were drought years. With harnessing of river Gambhir at Panchana dam in district Karauli, the water supply to Ajan dam has been further curtailed. Availability of water to the park is an issue of concern. ? A fine example is Siberian crane which eat bulb of Cyprus rotundus a sedge grass.
But due to growth of weeds and dry conditions it become rare now in this bird sanctuary. Water requirement of the park ? The Annual Requirement of water to maintain the wetland character of the Keoladeo National Park is about 14 million cubic feet water. As per the report of Water Resource Department of Government of Rajasthan, the Park has a maximum storage capacity of about 550 million cubic feet of water. The requirement of annual water supply in the range of 14 million cubic meter, i. e. , about 493 million cubic feet of water, balance requirement is met by rainfall over the National Park. By Late Dr. Salim Ali and Dr. V. S. Vijayan ) Water is crucial for aquatic birds as they lay eggs near water bodies. Aquatic Birds take their food near water bodies. Many birds eat underground parts of grasses like bulbs,but in drought conditions bulbs gets dry and no more available for birds. ? ? OptionsThere are many alternates which can be adopted by the management body so that this bird sanctuary can relive its status. ? Most crucial one is to maintain the water supply in the low land area where aquatic birds live and play there life.
Creating of big water reservoirs in the park for emergency in droughts and for hot summer days. ? Water supply should be maintain in park with the underground pipeline system because open canal system is not efficient in summer when much water lost between dam and park due to heavy evapotranspiration process. ? Recharge of ground water level during rainy season especially recharge point can be design near catchment area of spring and highlands in bird sanctuary so that ground water level can be maintain. Underground water well sources should be created so that in case of emergency water supply can be maintained in the bird park. Recommendations? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Maintain continues supply of water to the park to keep its wetland status. Cultivation of grasses and bulbs which have been eaten by aquatic birds like underground bulbs of Cyprus rotundus eaten by Siberian crane which come in winter season here from Siberia. Introduction of small fishes in small ponds for the aquatic birds so that, they can assess their food easily. Keep a check on weeds growth which creates problems for aquatic birds.
Maintain the quality of water for aquatic birds which is crucial for their health. ConclusionsWetland status of this bird heritage site has been threatened by the water crisis due to severe droughts and temporary water supply to the national park. Management body of this park has failed to secure the status of this site particularly in the case of migratory bird’s interests which are very less compare to last decade. Authority of Bird sanctuary must maintain the continues water supply and ecological balance of this aquatic habitat.