Although overall the number of majority of wild bird species has declined, the number of Painted Stork increased.
New Delhi: The population and diversity of water birds at Delhi Zoo has gone down significantly as compared to 2016, according to the latest findings of the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC), 2018.
In 2016, when the census was last conducted at the zoo, the population of birds was recorded at 1,008. This year, only 639 birds have been recorded. The species diversity has also reduced to 18 from 20 in 2016. Last year’s census did not happen at the Delhi Zoo due to birdflu.
The census is part of the International Waterbird Census (IWC) of Wetlands International and largest water bird census in Asia. The census is carried out simultaneously in 27 countries once in a year in the month of January by national network of volunteers and partner organisations in coordination of a national and state coordinator.
The aim of the census, which took place from January 6 to January 21, is to record overall water birds diversity with population and wetland site information, to maintain an overview of the population size, status and trends of water birds.
“We have recorded lesser species diversity and population this time. This includes only one species of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red listed threatened birds,” said T.K. Roy, ecologist and AWC state coordinator.
National Zoological Park (NZP), commonly known as Delhi Zoo, has two small wetlands that see both resident and migratory water birds.
“Due to global climate change impact, shrinking wetland habitats, food habitats, and changing migration trends of long distant winter migratory birds there is a fluctuating species diversity and numbers. There are extreme unfavourable climatic conditions of Delhi for human beings as well for wildlife, especially long distance migratory water birds. Few long distant winter migratory water birds like Northern Shoveler, Gadwal, Common Teals have not arrived here, and resident species like Purple Heron, Grey Herons not sighted this time,” he added.
Although overall the number of majority of wild bird species has declined, the number of Painted Stork, a threatened species, increased from 114 in 2016 to 510 in 2018.
The 2018 census for Delhi region was carried out at six important wetlands — Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Najafgarh Drain and Jheel, Sanjay Lake, Delhi Zoo, Surajpur Wetland and Yamuna floodplains.