Flooding Vadhvana wetland drives away migratory birds

A winter home for migratory birds — Vadhvana wetland — is facing threat from the Narmada waters flowing into the area from the canal-network. Forest officials say that their pleas with the irrigation department to reduce the water flow into the ecology site — located 40 kms from Vadodara — have fallen on deaf ears.

On December 20, the district forest department recorded 36,700 migratory birds at the Vadhvana eco-site. However, within seven days, close to 7,000 birds had already moved away in search of better wetland habitat.

"The local forest staff in Vadhvana said that the count has come down to 30,300 birds. This means the rising water level is a big threat to the migratory birds in the wetlands," said District Forest Officer R G Prajapati.

The forest department has been requesting the irrigation department to maintain the water level at about 12 feet in the area so that the birds can continue to thrive in their transit here. However, the current level is about 17 feet higher than the level of the wetland tank. Prajapati said that a reduction of at least 4-5 feet of water would solve the problem without hampering the irrigation works in the area.

"The water level has been steadily rising due to the Narmada canals that surround the area. It is primarily an irrigation land and so our pleas to the department have only got us negative response," he added. The reduction in the number of birds within one week has dampened the spirit of the tourists too.

Every winter, from November beginning, Vadhvana lake becomes home for over 1 lakh migratory birds, which include close to 65 species. These birds include Black-necked Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Spot billed Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, White and black stork, White Ibis, Indian Black Ibis, Flamingos, Greylag Goose, Peregine Falcon, Egyptian Vultures, Pallid Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Ospray and so on.

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