Bhubaneswar: The annual monitoring of Chilika lagoon to know the status of flora and fauna and also to estimate the population range of birds, in particular, was taken-up by Chilika Development Authority (CDA) with the help of 175 personnel’s in 29 teams comprising of officials of CDA, staff from Chilika Wildlife Division, members of different boats’ associations, members of NGOs along with WWF-India representative of Odisha and BNHS.
The survey was carried out from the morning of 3rd January 2020 till 12Noon. The inclement weather hindered the sighting and population estimation of the flag species of Chilika- Irrawaddy dolphin. The important bird areas, IBA (which holds significant numbers of one or more globally threatened bird species or having an exceptionally large number of migratory birds) were mapped out earlier to facilitate counting of birds along with their numbers at Nalabana Sanctuary.
The following are the highlights of the annual survey:
The total bird population of Chilika lagoon will be in the range of 10.5 lakhs to 10.7 lakhs. This compares favorably with the population of last year. The exact number along with different species will be provided by the Wildlife wing, after detailed census being planned by Chilika Wildlife Division in the near future.
Nalabana water bird sanctuary notified during 1987, spread over 15.53 sq. kms has one of the largest congregation with 3,74,752 birds of 114 species. 74 are waterfowls and 40 are waders. Most of these waterfowls breed outside the sub-continent in the Palearctic region and migrates to Chilika lagoon during the winter for roosting and feeding.
The evicted areas from the net gharries, to the tune of 162 sq.kmsis not reconstructed and remains free. These areas have become the new place of congregation for the birds and the dolphin population. Areas like Gurubai andParikudaetc have become Important Bird Areas (IBA) with the presence of a large number of migratory ducks and geese.
Dolphins are colonizing new areas, free from encroachments. Few families have migrated from the Outer channel to the Central and Southern sectors. Their exact area of colonization has been monitored and mapped with the help of hydrophones. The direct sighting of dolphins by the survey team was difficult at many places due to inclement weather and its exact range of population will be estimated at a future date.
The population of waders were observed to be less compared to previous years, as they are dependent on mudflats which are dynamic in nature and was affected by the storm surge during the cyclone ‘FANI’. It will recover in due course of time and will be suitable for the waders to feed on.