Bhubaneswar: Migratory birds have found a new destination on the city outskirts with 13,710 water birds flocking to the Chandaka forests. The annual water bird census conducted Friday revealed presence of 27 species of migratory birds including Northern Pintail, black billed tern, bar tailed godwit and red crested pochard.
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Chandaka, Kedar Kumar Swain, said that the number of birds visiting this winter is the highest in the last five years. “Last year the number was 10,114 and the number of migratory bird species stood at 19. We have asked our men to intensify patrolling in the water bodies to prevent poaching of birds,” said Swain.
The census involved as many as 24 sites and 11 teams comprising forest officials, researchers, students of Utkal University and Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT). The teams also found 60 species of wetland birds and another eight species of wetland dependant bird species.
The census came as a breather for the forest officials of the Chandaka sanctuary which has been witnessing a decline in the number of elephants. The Chandaka Damapara Wildlife Sanctuary sprawling over 193 sq km was designated as an elephant reserve in 1982. At the point of time, it was home to more than 120 elephants. As per official statistics, the sanctuary had 83 elephants in 1999; but by 2017, when a headcount was done, their number has dwindled to just one elephant.
“We have undertaken a massive drive for habitat restoration for which large number of birds congregated this winter. This is a positive sign for the eco system and we are hopeful of elephants staying in the forest area,” said a forest official.
In December, the Forest Department had started a safari bus service for visitors in the sanctuary and introduced four 12-seater and five 8-seater specially designed vehicles. The sanctuary has a number of tourist attractions including Deras, Jhumka, Godibari and Kumarkhunti. The sanctuary has 32 small hillocks and is famous for wild nut trees.