Bhubaneswar: Chilika, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon has received about 10.5 to 10.7 lakh birds this winter, says the annual monitoring report of Chilika Development Authority (CDA).

” The total bird population of Chilika lagoon will be in the range of 10.5 lakhs to 10.7 lakhs.  This compare favorably with the population of last year”, finds the CDA report.

However, the exact number along with different species will be available after the detailed census planned by Chilika Wildlife Division in the near future.

The CDA with the help of 175 personnel in 29 teams comprising the officials of Chilika Wildlife Division, members of different boat associations and NGOs besides the WWF-India and BNHS representatives conducted the annual monitoring of Chilika lagoon on January 3, 2020. The purpose was to know the status of flora and fauna and also to estimate the population range of birds in particular.

The inclement weather hindered the sighting and population estimation of the flag species of Chilika- Irrawaddy dolphin. The important bird areas, IBA (which holds significant numbers of one or more globally threaten bird species or having exceptionally large number of migratory birds) were mapped out earlier to facilitate counting of birds along with their numbers at Nalabana Sanctuary.

Nalabana  water bird sanctuary notified during 1987,  spread over 15.53 sq. kms has one of the largest congregation with 3,74,752 birds of 114 species. 74 are water fowls and 40 are waders. Most of these water fowls breed outside the sub-continent in the palearctic region and migrates to Chilika lagoon during the winter for roosting and feeding.

The evicted areas from the net gharries, to the tune of 162 sq.kms is not reconstructed and remains free. These areas have become the new place of congregation for the birds and the dolphin population. Areas like Gurubai and Parikudaetc have become Important Bird Areas (IBA) with presence of large number of migratory ducks and geese.

Dolphins are colonizing new areas, free from encroachments. Few families have migrated from Outer channel to Central and Southern sector. Their exact area of colonization has beenmonitored and mapped with the help of hydrophones. The direct sighting of dolphins by the survey team was difficult at many places due to inclement weather and its exact range of population will be estimatedat a future date.

The population of waders were observed to be less compared to previous years, as they are dependent on mudflats which are dynamic in nature and was affected by the storm surge during the cyclone ‘FANI’. It will recover in due course of time and will be suitable for the waders to feed on.