Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Man vs Wildlife vs Environemnt or simply birding

Few days ago a birder from distant suburb of Mumbai visited his home town near Satara. The most significant sighting that he was excited about was the Black Stork (ciconia nigra) of Ciconiidae family near his village Mendh in Dhebewadi, Taluka Phatan, District Satara, Maharashtra. The area falls on the outskirts of Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, which was accorded in 1988, by Wildlife Institute of India, on the top priority for conservation in the Maharashtra state. 23 years down the line, the WLS sanctuary has pressure from windmills, mining, widening of the road, unregulated shifting cultivation and many more.
After returning to Mumbai, this birder uploaded the photograph of this large wader bird on his facebook profile along with GPS coordinates & on next photograph he captioned it “Cause of Destruction.” The birder photographed the stork in the excavated field, where a truck, carrying the debris, was seen passing through the bird. Honestly speaking, for me the cause of destruction was the truckload, full of debris. But for that fellow birder the cause of destruction was the stork, for whom a large catchment was being created in form of dam near the ESA (Environmental Sensitive Area) of newly created tiger reserve, Sahyadri (Sahyadri is Maharashtra’s fourth Tiger Reserve – 741.22 Sq. Kms , which is declared to be Critical Tiger Habitat, if the same is been approved by the Gram Panchayat under section 4(2)b and 4(2)c & 4(2)e of Forest Rights Act). Anyways coming back to the birder, he delightedly said that “we have a reason to be happy; once the catchment area is created these birds would float free in these high waters”. To remind it has been scientifically proved that these storks or cranes, even having webbed feet, spend most of time on land than on water. Was that a logically good reason for him to be happy? Did he forget that large patches of forests are being pulled down for the excuse of huge dams including Koyna, Narmada, Kali, Krishna, and many more. Have we forgotten, for time or forever, that every forest patch in India has not only birds, but mammals, reptiles, butterflies, insects and large variety of flora? On the name of such larger infrastructural development, these forest patches are being wiped out with no chance of repair for such great bio-diversity. Taking a fresh example, a recent newspaper article claimed, citing the name of top bureaucrat in forest Dept., that the wetlands of Uran would be reactivated again. Uran, which struggled to be listed as an IBA (Important Bird Area), considering its rich bird bio-diversity, took several years to establish itself as a refuge of winter/local migrants on the fringes of Thane creek. Uran was home of 160 bird species, including the first breeding (monsoon 2002) record of black-breasted weaver (ploceus benghalensis) of Ploceidae family, and all that is gone, including those jackals, jungle cats and perhaps striped hyeana, which were feeding on these wading birds. Several years or a perhaps decades of natural development was cleaned in less than 2 years by heavy machines. And it is being said that the area would regain its lost pristine glory very soon. If that is to happen, we all would be happy, driving down to Uran. But what are the chances for it to likely happen so? Most of remote areas including Thane Creek, Diva, Uran, Datiware, Talzan, Malad Creek, Nirmal & Kelve are known to be most promising but vulnerable area for birding. Deprived by uncontrolled development, some non-social activities always keep on happening there.

With all above and many more, where do we birders go, if to do Birding in Mumbai? SGNP being off-limit for actual nature lovers, Tungareshwar being risky, Matheran being flooded with honeymoon packages, Karjat-Murbad being mushroomed with second home projects, Aarey Colony being highly disturbed due to vehicular movement, Alibaug being far off without personal vehicle. What are the options left to watch, observe and photograph the Flora and Fauna of Mumbai’s Wildlife Region. The answer is perhaps an old clock mounted on the wall, which is silent and not ticking.


Yogi... Yo Rocks.. !! said...

nicely written ! keep it up !

Anu said...

very well written..... though not as enthusiastic a birder like you, I do see the decline all around me, and it is indeed a sorry sight.... just a few years back, i used to see so many more birds around our home, but today, all i can see are crows... and not just here, no matter where we go, unless we go seriously birdwatching like you guys do, its impossible to see any birds at all