Water pollutants threatening waterfowl species in wetlands of Maharashtra

Mumbai: Water pollution from agricultural runoff, effluents and sewage is a consistent threat to six major wetlands in Maharashtra, where 112 species of waterfowl from 18 families are found, a study by the BNHS has found.

Birds found in the six wetlands include Black-tailed Godwit, Greater Flamingo, Mallard, Common Pochard, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint.

BNHS study From October 2021 to April 2022

Bird monitoring of avian visitors via the Central Asian Flyway was conducted by research body BNHS between October 2021 and April 2022 at six wetlands in Maharashtra – Nandur Madhmeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary (Ramsar Site) in Nashik, Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary in Aurangabad, Gangapur in Nashik dam, Ujjani Dam in Solapur, Hatnur Dam in Jalgaon and Visapur Dam in Ahmednagar. The project “Elucidating the Status of Migratory Waterbirds in the Ornithologically Important Wetlands of Maharashtra: Central Asian Flyway” was commissioned by the State Mangrove Foundation.

BNHS Assistant Director Dr Sathiya Selavam said the researchers recorded the maximum species diversity of 58 waterfowl species and the highest number of 20,977 waterfowl was recorded from Ujjani dam in April.

“Conserving these wetlands will help us achieve our sustainable development goals and commitments to the global community on the Central Asian Flyway announced by the Prime Minister during the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS COP 13) in Gandhinagar in February 2020,” he said. Mr. Virendra Tiwari, Additional Chief Conservator of Forest, Maharashtra Mangrove Cell and Executive Director, Mangrove Foundation.

Two types in the “sensitive” category

As defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), common grasshopper and river grasshopper were two of the observed species. Maximum number of river grasses were seen in Ujjani (306) and Jayakwadi (259) rivers. Asian Woolly-necked, Painted Stork, Black-headed Ibis and Eastern Darter were some of the species under imminent threat. A large number (2041) of the near-endangered Black-tailed Godwit were seen at Ujjani.

NatConnect Foundation, which campaigns to save wetlands in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), said the findings of the study show that migratory birds are Ambassadors of Good Environment. They look for ideal breeding and nesting sites, and their landing sites indicate the presence of small fish to feed the chicks.

For migratory birds traveling through the Central Asian Flyway (CAF), Maharashtra is home to both natural and man-made wetlands, which serve as roosting and wintering grounds. Flyways are used by birds to reach their breeding, stopover and wintering sites during their annual cycles. The Convention on Migratory Species has designated nine migratory flyways (CMS) worldwide. One of them is CAF, which covers migratory bird routes through 30 countries, most of which are India.

Mr. BN Kumar of NetConnect Foundation said, “Migratory birds also descend on MMR where human encroachment, dumping of wetlands threatens wetlands.

The role of wetlands in maintaining migratory birds

The study identifies the role of these wetlands in supporting migratory as well as resident birds, with special reference to rare and endangered species. During the said project, BNHS has conducted various researches like Bird Monitoring Survey, Bird Catching. Bird call and color band. “A concerted effort has been made to document endangered and threatened species, CAF priority species and species of CAF conservation concern. Six priority species, two vulnerable species and seven threatened species were also identified in India’s CAF National Action Plan during the study period.

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