Guwahati: Authorities of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve in Assam are conducting a waterfowl census to record the number of aquatic and migratory birds thronging the waterbodies of the reserve forest, an official said on Friday.

The five-day exercise will end on December 26, he said.

“Altogether 150 seasoned birdwatchers have been involved in the fourth waterfowl census along with forest personnel. They are using binoculars, rangefinders and GPS technologies, and the survey report is likely to be released on December 28,” the official said.

The objectives of the survey are to record the number of waterfowl, winter migratory birds and to monitor and analyse the state of the wetlands, he said.

He pointed out that the park is not just about one-horned rhinos and tigers, but the UNESCO World Heritage site is also home to waterbirds.

The last annual census of waterbirds in the park was carried out in February this year and recorded a 175 per cent increase in the number of such species, including those migrating from Europe, central and east Asia.

Altogether 93,491 birds of 112 species were counted during the two-day waterfowl census in the national park.

The total number of birds had increased from 34,284 in 2020.

“The national park received less rainfall this year, leading to a fall in the water level of the wetlands. But we are confident that the number of waterfowl will not decline as areas under Burapahar, Laokhowa and Burachapori have been freed from encroachment. This led to an increase in habitat area of migratory birds,” the official said.

The top three species counted during the last census were Eurasian coot, bar-headed goose and common teal.

The earlier survey attributed the rise in the number of birds visiting Kaziranga to improved habitat management and water conservation measures, he added.

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