Winged visitors shun this park

Once regarded to as the best place for roosting of birds, Lalbagh is fast losing its winged visitors, which according to ornithologists and birdwatchers, is an alarming trend.

Dr M B Krishna, an avid bird watcher since early seventies, says the sightings of birds have been reduced to just two per cent compared with earlier days.

In his article published in 1999, Dr Krishina refers to a paper published in the early sixties which mention about 673 genera, 1,854 species and 890 cultivars, excluding animals. He says there had been a drastic decline in the number of birds, animals and even plant species at the park.

According to Krishna, there had been a significant drop in the number of birds found at Lalbagh.

“For instance, Iora, which were plenty in number have reduced by 70 per cent. The sandpipers, which were commonly sighted along the banks of the lake at Lalbagh, have disappeared. We have records of sighting white-necked stork, which is not seen now,” he said.

Citing pollution as a major reason for the fading flora and fauna, Dr Krishna said toxic fumes from vehicles were endangering plants and animals. Tiny birds like coppersmith barbets flower peckers, bulbuls, tailor birds ashy wren warblers, which were more in number, have been reduced to a handful in recent days.

“These birds require shrubs and bushes which have been cleared now, depriving them of their habitat. Birds such as doves, which are ground feeders have moved out due to frequent disturbances,” he explained adding that movement of vehicles and visitors has affected the bird population.

Krishna said endangered pelicans have stopped coming to Lalbagh lake as people pelted them with stones.

Ullas P A, another bird watcher, says he had not sighted ducks, peasant tailed jacana, grey drongo, white and grey wagtails large pied warbler and other birds at Lalbagh.
Dr K G Jagadish, Director, Lalbagh Botanical Garden, admitted that the number of birds was on decline and attributed the dwindling numbers to increasing levels of pollution in the City and disturbance caused by visitors. But he denied any tree felling.

“Declining diversity is not a local phenomenon, it is a global phenomenon. We cannot prevent visitors from coming to Lalbagh, which has become a biodiversity hub,” he said.
Concurring with the view of Krishna that birds and animals were vulnerable to pollution, Jagadish said if the trend continues, the botanical garden will lose its bird population in another 50 years.

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