GUWAHATI, Jan 1 – Concerns have emerged over the state of the Deepor Beel with a sharp fall in its avian population. According to birders, the Ramsar site, west of Guwahati city, has seen a drop in the number of migratory birds this winter. Those familiar with the situation have mentioned that the wetland now has around 5,000 birds, less than a third of its highest one-day estimation.
The wetland that is an Important Bird Area (IBA) has also seen late arrival of birds this season, and apart from the fall in numbers, some species have not arrived at the end of 2011.
Fewer water fowl in Deepor has disappointed visitors who have spent time in and around Deepor, waiting to spot or photograph the winged visitors. Chandrasekhar Bandi, a computer professional from Bengaluru had read about the rich birdlife of the wetland and was surprised by the small number of migratory birds he could observe in December last year. However, he was impressed by the natural beauty of the landscape.
Forest personnel G Thapa, who is among those who keeps watch on the 4.1 sq km sanctuary, part of a larger expanse of water and land, told this correspondent that the bird population this season is less compared to previous years. He was hopeful that the numbers would increase by mid-January.
A senior Forest department officer, who preferred anonymity, said that the relatively warm winter could be a reason for the fall in numbers. A similar view was shared by local birder Lakshan Teron, who added that the migratory birds are seen in large numbers only when the winter chill really sets in.
Experts suspect that global warming, too, could be a reason for the decline in the migratory bird population. They think that the mercury has not fallen sharply in the northern homelands of the birds, as a result of which they are not compelled to fly down to their winter habitats.