GUWAHATI: A stunning array of a total of 3,043 Asian water birds belonging to 41 different species were counted during the 2023 Asian Water Bird Census (AWC) at Urpad Beel in Assam’s Goalpara district on January 13, 2023.

The census was conducted by the Assam State Biodiversity Board (ASBB) in collaboration with the Goalpara Forest Division of the Assam Forest Department and members of the Balijana Anchalik Panchayat Biodiversity Management Committee.

“Most of the birds found here are migratory birds,” said Jitendra Kumar, DFO, Goalpara Forest Division.

Of the migratory birds, the team recorded 619 Ferruginous Pochard, 287 Large Whistling Duck, 107 Greying Goose, 55 Cotton Teal, 51 Spot-Billed Duck, 49 Glossy Ibis, 25 Gadwall, 7 Garganey, 4 Northers Pinyal, 4 Common Teal, 3 European Wigeon, 3 Lesser Adjutant and 1 Black-Headed Ibis.

Assam is home to around 130 species of waterbirds, as per data from Wetland International.

“There is no record of a previous bird count at this lake. We are trying to create awareness among citizens about bird conservation. This will help us to monitor the status and condition of wetlands on an annual basis, and encourage citizens to learn more about waterbirds and wetlands,” said Kumar, as he released an awareness leaflet for AWC 2023.

“The Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) is an international program that focuses on monitoring the status of waterbirds and wetlands. It also aims to increase public awareness about issues related to wetland and waterbird conservation,” said Dr Oinam Sunanda Devi, scientific officer, ASBB.

“From 2022, Wetland International and the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) directed all State Biodiversity Boards to conduct the census in collaboration with stakeholders, particularly the Biodiversity Management Committees,” said Dr Devi.

The first census conducted by the ASBB was held at two sites, Deepor Beel and Pobitora, in 2022, and it involved two Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs); the Rani Anchalik Panchayat BMC and the Mayong Anchalik Panchayat BMC.

“This step is taken by ASBB in collaboration with local stakeholders, the BMCs, as part of increasing awareness and involving them in the existing AWC network for monitoring and conservation of waterbirds,” said Dr Devi. She also added that “Apart from Urpad Beel, this year’s census will be conducted at Deepor Beel (Kamrup Metro), Pobitora wetland complex (Morigaon), Maguri-Motapung (Tinsukia) and Deeplai and Soreswar Beel (Kokrajhar).”

Located at Agia, 9km off Goalpara town, Urpad Beel is one of the biggest lakes in lower Assam. It is also identified as an important bird area (IBA) by Birdlife International (IN-AS-46), and the lake has some natural resources that make livelihood easier for several people in the area.

“The lake is full of fish, and fishing is one of the popular professions here,” Dr Devi said. “Some water plants such as the water lily, water hyacinth, etc also abound in this lake, thus enhancing its aesthetic appeal to the viewer. There are several birds which are native to the lake including the adjutant stork, egret, whistling teal, kingfisher, etc. Moreover, many migratory birds come to the lake each year,” she added.

Help sustain honest journalism.

The first internationally coordinated waterbird count was organized in January 1967. Now in its 56th year, the International Waterbird Census has become a vital source of information for the conservation and management of wetlands and waterbirds around the world.

Also Read | Assam gears up to celebrate ‘Bhogali Bihu’

Trending Stories

Latest Stories

Leave a comment

Leave a comment