Wildlife Dept doesn’t bother to find out stats on migratory birds

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KARACHI – The bad news for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts is that they would be unable to find out how many migratory birds from cold countries visited Sindh this year, as the provincial Wildlife Department failed to conduct a survey to ascertain the number of these birds.
The survey’s finding could have been more interesting than usual considering that there might have been an increase in the number of the guest birds in the aftermath of the last year’s floods.
As per norm, the department conducts this survey each year and issues a report about the increasing or declining figures of these birds. However, this is not the only matter of the department that has been shelved in recent times.
Sources said that ever since the former provincial conservator of the department, Hussain Bux Bhagat was removed from his post, many important matters have been lying pending.
Bhagat was recently removed when he charged falcon-possession fee from an Arab falconer, who was a close friend of President Asif Ali Zardari.
Provincial Wildlife Minister Daya Ram Essrani denied that that the department conducts a survey on migratory birds each year.
“We always conduct surveys on the local wildlife, but not these migratory birds, as they are visit for a short time and leave. They have to do nothing with the Wildlife Department,” said Essrani.
However, Pakistan Today acquired the copies of several surveys carried out on the guest birds by Wildlife Department.
Surprisingly, minister was not aware of any of them that have been conducted continuously for the last several years.
The Indus eco-region is one of the largest among the 200 in world. It is rich with natural resources and unique biodiversity.
In Pakistan, there are 19 Ramsar (The international convention on water bodies held in Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971) sites, out of which 10 are in Sindh alone.
Every year, migratory birds from Siberia and other Central Asian arrive at these wetlands of Sindh seeking a warmer climate. They use a flyway that passes through Kazakhstan and Afghanistan. The environmentalists call it the ‘Green Route’ or the ‘Indus Flyway’.
In Sindh, the famous Nara canal and the marshlands in Khairpur; Drig, Lung, Hamal and Kachri lakes in Larkana; Haleji, Hadero and Keenjhar lakes in Thatta; Nariri in Badin and Manchhar in Dadu are the favourite winter abodes for the migratory birds.
Some old surveys of the Wildlife Department stated that around 0.7 million birds migrate during winter to these wetlands of the province.
According to different nature conservationists and environmentalists, freshwater wetlands provide a suitable habitat and feeding opportunities to a wide variety of water-birds that arrive there using the Indus Flyway.
According to experts, migratory birds usually reach these wetlands in November and return by the end of February.