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1.01 lakh migratory birds spotted in HP’s Pong dam this year

The number of these winged visitors is marginally less than last year due to the avian influenza outbreak, which was first reported on 28 December 2020 in the Pong dam lake wildlife sanctuary

Statesman News Service | Shimla |

Himachal Pradesh Forest Minister Rakesh Pathania said on Monday that a total of 1,08,578 birds of 96 species were counted during this year at the Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary.

Of them, water dependent migratory birds were 1,01,431 of 51 species and water dependent resident birds were 6,433 of 29 species. As many as 714 birds of 16 other species were also recorded.

The minister said the results of the annual water bird count conducted during this year show that the habitat of migratory and resident water birds has gradually improved in the state due to effective and timely interventions.

He said that the annual water bird count at Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary was conducted in the first week of February, 2021 and the exercise was conducted under restrained conditions due to the prevailing Avian Influenza outbreak in Pong Dam Lake as well as the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The exercise was conducted by Wildlife wing of Himachal Pradesh by deploying 57 staff members in 26 sections of the sanctuary for counting the water dependent birds.. The total population of the flagship species, Bar-Headed Geese, is 40,570.

The other species which have higher population count during this year are Eurasian Coot (24,163), Northern Pintail (12,702), Common Teal (8,444), Little Cormorant (3,649), Great Cormorant (3,410), GreyLag Goose (2,297), Northern Shoveler (2,275) and Common Pochard (2,138).

The species which find noticeable mention are Red Necked Grebe, Great Bittern, Lesser White-Fronted Goose, Red Crested Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Pied Avocet, Northern Lapwing, Peregrine Falcon etc. During the counting exercise one Barheaded Goose and one Greylag Goose with collars was also spotted.

Pathania congratulated the Wildlife Wing of Forest department for completing the annual bird count exercise in Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary as per schedule. He said that this year the annual bird count exercise assumes significance, considering the Avian Influenza outbreak in the Wildlife Sanctuary. He expressed satisfaction over the timely and effective containment measures taken by Wildlife wing to control and contain the outbreak.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) (Wildlife) Archana Sharma and Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF), Wildlife (North) Dharamshala, Upasana Patial also participated and supervised the annual water bird count.

The total population of birds as well as the number of species counted this year is marginally less as compared to last year, probably due to the impact of Avian Influenza outbreak which was first reported on 28 December 2020.

Although the total population of water birds declined during the peak of Avian Influenza outbreak, there is gradual increase in the total population of birds as a result of continuing containment measures being taken in the Pong Dam Lake, the minister said.