- Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon, Chilika lake in Odisha, has witnessed a constant rise within the chook inhabitants since 2018.
- The success is attributed to the removing of unlawful encroachments from prawn tradition as about 162 sq. kilometres of the world of the lake was recovered from prawn tradition mafia.
- Nonetheless, components such because the remaining encroachments, siltation, and poaching nonetheless pose a menace to the birds of Chilika.
Chilika Lake in India’s japanese coastal state of Odisha, thought-about Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon, has recorded a rise within the variety of birds together with migratory birds apart from witnessing two species of the winged visitors after an extended time frame.
The newest census report, reviewed by Mongabay-India, claims that in 2021 (January) the lake, which is unfold in an space of around 1,165 square kilometres, witnessed an estimated 1.21 million birds in comparison with 1.10 million in 2020. The 2 birds recorded by authorities, which aren’t generally discovered within the lake, have been noticed falcated teal (close to threatened), a uncommon duck species, and a mallard.
The census was carried out by the Chilika wildlife division of the Odisha authorities and the Bombay Pure Historical past Society (BNHS), Mumbai in affiliation with some state government-owned establishments, non-governmental organisations, college students and consultants on the premise of headcount technique.
A comparability of the census knowledge for the previous few years highlights that for the final 4 years, since 2018, the inhabitants of the birds noticed on the lake has been constantly rising. In 2018, the inhabitants stood at 890,000 which went as much as 1.04 million in 2019 and continues to rise.
“Since 2018, there was a constant rise within the whole inhabitants of the birds. The census knowledge is genuine and is a results of arduous works of greater than 20 groups of consultants from totally different establishments who accumulate knowledge on a specific day by means of the headcount technique. They’re outfitted with gear like binoculars, telescopes and others and strategically positioned to conduct the train yearly,” stated Sarat Mishra, who’s Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF), Chilika wildlife division.
Scientists and wildlife consultants attributed the rise within the variety of birds to the removing of encroachments from the unlawful prawn tradition mafia in the previous couple of years from the lake.
Sushant Nanda, the Chief Government Officer (CEO) of Odisha authorities’s Chilika Growth Authority (CDA), admits that round 15 p.c of the big lake was encroached upon by individuals who have been concerned in prawn tradition and used to threaten the entire ecosystem of the lake.
“One of many prime causes for the rise in inhabitants of birds in Chilika is the removing of unlawful gherries (barricades) put up by the encroachers contained in the lake in addition to on the peripheries of the lake. Round 162 sq. km. of the world was earlier encroached upon for unlawful prawn tradition. That was round 15 p.c of the world. In the previous couple of years, the CDA has been capable of take away the gherries,” Nanda stated.
He defined that the unlawful barricades have been obstructing the free movement of water into the lake and creating hindrance within the development of fish on which a number of birds feed on. Nanda emphasised that after virtually a decade diving geese have been noticed on the Rambha aspect of the lake in Ganjam district. The lake is unfold in three districts of Odisha – Puri, Khurda and Ganjam.
Unlawful encroachment is a steady battle
The officers, who’ve labored for the removing of gherries from the mafia, have by no means had a simple activity as they observe that they confronted threats and assaults.
Sasmita Lenka, who was the CEO of the CDA between 2015 and 2018 claimed that she confronted a number of threats whereas executing the plan to take away the encroachments on Chilika and taking over the mafia.
“The prawn gherries mafia have been very highly effective males. They have been mainly individuals with cash and muscle energy and didn’t belong to the Chilika area. That they had made their base deep into the lake. They used zero nets and barricaded a number of components of the lake to catch prawns. These gherries have been a significant menace to the Chilika ecosystem,” she stated.
In reality, Lenka survived two deadly assaults the place native bombs have been thrown in opposition to her crew throughout an inspection in the midst of the lake whereas seven males allegedly additionally threatened her with dying and rape threats. This had pressured her to complain to the police and file a case in opposition to them.
Lenka, who’s now posted because the deputy conservator of forests (DCF) with Odisha’s wildlife division, claimed that in her raids and demolition drive she had even seen unlawful two-storeyed to three-storeyed thatched homes constructed in the midst of the lake with good facilities with the assistance of iron and picket base on the lake by the prawn tradition mafia.
There has not solely been an increase within the variety of birds after the removing of encroachments however different species are respiration straightforward too. For example, Chilika is understood to harness dolphins and H.S. Upadhyay, who’s the Principal Conservator of Forest (PCCF) – Wildlife famous that dolphins have additionally elevated within the state as they have been additionally seen in areas like Rambha (within the lake) this time the place they have been earlier not seen.
The resilient ecosystem of Chilika
Wildlife consultants emphasise that Chilika Lake is very resilient in nature and several other of its virtues make the positioning an ideal website for the migratory birds.
“Chilika is a mosaic of habitats. At any cut-off date, you’re going to get freshwater, brackish water and seawater within the lake in several areas. That is the rationale habitat availability is kind of huge right here. That’s the reason in Chilika, we see the biggest congregation of migratory birds in Asia,” Ajit Patnaik, a retired officer of the Indian Forest Providers (IFS) stated.
He stated that regardless of bouts of cyclones within the state, the lake bounces again sooner. “Chilika may be very resilient and it bounces again quickly. Publish Cyclone Phailin, the state authorities with the assistance of the premier companies from the nation carried out research and located that inside six months, it bounced again. The state has seen a number of cyclones however inside months, the lake bounces again attributable to its sturdy ecosystem and good well being,” he added.
S.N. Patro, an environmentalist from Bhubaneswar, claimed that the aquatic well being of the lake is maintained attributable to lesser industrialisation in Odisha coast reasonably than different coastal states of India alongside the ocean. He, nonetheless, expressed concern that with the proposal of building of 14 ports within the state, the wildlife together with that of Chilika may get disturbed.
He additionally tried to clarify the rationale behind the excessive variety of migratory birds coming to Chilika Lake. “Chilika Lake hosts a chook sanctuary contained in the lake often known as Nalabana Sanctuary. It presents a particular grass known as Nal grass which is way wanted by the migratory birds. It will get submerged throughout the wet season and comes out throughout winters. The sanctuary sees a variety of native and migratory birds throughout winter,” Patro stated.
The 2021 Census additionally claimed that 424,788 birds (113 species) have been counted in Nalabana Sanctuary alone – recording a rise of 18,480 birds during the last yr.
Environmentalists state that apart from the Nalabana sanctuary, Manglajodi is one other space which within the final one decade has became a very good website for the birds owing to the modifications within the space attributable to siltation and different areas. However consultants are involved that remaining encroachment and poaching actions in Manglajodi and different areas within the lake threaten the lake’s ecosystem.
“Chilika is a pure ecosystem and seize fishing is the traditional and wholesome manner of fishing right here. However prawn tradition nonetheless exists which is unhealthy for the lake. Unlawful gherries haven’t been absolutely eliminated which continues to be a priority as additionally they facilitate deposition of siltation which hampers the well being of the lake,” Jaya Krushna Panigrahi, an environmentalist from Odisha who has extensively researched on Chilika Lake for about 20 years, informed Mongabay-India.
Some species witnessed a decline
Whereas the Census hinted in the direction of an general rise within the inhabitants of chook species, the recognizing of some species has dwindled. Among the many most dominant chook species noticed within the lake included Gadwall (222,000) and Eurasian Wigeon (210,000).
In keeping with sources in Odisha’s wildlife division, species like larger flamingo and migratory chook species reminiscent of cotton teal, northern shoveller and lesser whistling duck have been additionally seen much less in comparison with earlier years.
S. Balachandran, deputy director with the BNHS which has been a part of the census train for greater than twenty years, applauded the Odisha authorities for restoration of the lake by performing in opposition to the unlawful gherries however expressed considerations on the decline of few species of birds who’re depending on mudflats of Nalabana.
“Some chook species are declining attributable to modifications in mudflats availability. Some consumed different worms obtainable in mudflats. So, the modifications in mudflats can have an effect on their inhabitants. Mudflats supply some invertebrates for feeding to birds,” he stated.
Balachandran stated that the visits of a number of species of migratory birds are indicators of the well being of the lake and any change within the sample trace in the direction of some points with the general well being of the lagoon.
Nonetheless, environmentalists complain that the state regardless of repeated calls for for greater than three many years has did not deliver laws on Chilika to correctly handle its affairs.
The state Cupboard had handed a bill in 2017 on Chilika however until date, it has did not see the sunshine of the day within the legislative meeting. The calls for began manner again within the Nineties when the Chilika Bachao Motion had began within the state to guard it.
Banner picture: Chilika lake has constantly recorded a rise within the inhabitants of the birds over the previous couple of years. Picture by Chilika wildlife division.