The bird population in Odisha’s Chilika Lake has touched its highest in the last two decades with officials estimating around 11.4 lakh birds during the annual bird census of the largest coastal lagoon in the country.
Chief executive of Chilika Development Authority Susanta Nanda said the annual bird count of Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon undertaken on Tuesday revealed a record presence of 11.42 lakh migratory birds from 190 species. The annual bird census in the lagoon was carried out in five ranges under the Chilika Wildlife Division. As many as 21 teams comprising 111 wildlife officials, experts and environmentalists were deployed at Satpada in Puri, Rambha in Ganjam and Balugaon and Tangi of Khurda districts for carrying out the migratory bird count exercise.
Nanda said last year, the number of birds was estimated at around 11.04 lakh. In 2019, 10.47 lakh birds were counted at the lagoon that is counted among the world’s most amazing biodiversity hotspots.
“Wetland ecosystems are highly resilient and bounce bank to normalcy in the shortest possible time. Removal of 160 sq km of encroachment in 2018-19, has resulted in a record arrival of birds. Population of avifauna is the best indicator of health of a wetland ecosystem. Thanks to all the staff involved in making Chilika a safe haven for migratory birds,” he said.
Covering an approx area of 1,100 sq km, the lagoon is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds in India. It welcomes numerous species of endangered birds every winter season. The lagoon hosts birds from as far as Russia, Mongolia, Central and Southeast Asia and Himalayas, that flock to the lagoon during the migratory season.