HYDERABAD : The beaked bird that lands on her field every spring had always fascinated S Ambika Pradhan, a bird enthusiast from Hyderabad, in her childhood; 15 years gone and the fields are no more there, nor is the bird’s calling. This is not just the story of Ambika, but the story of every bird lover in the city and essentially the story of Hyderabad itself, the land that was once abundant with wide variety of flora and fauna is getting arid and hotter.
“There were roughly 190-200 species of birds in Hyderabad. More than 80 species of birds are migratory that came from different parts of the country mostly from North India. A few also came from Europe. Migratory birds like Pacific Golden Plover comes all the way from Arctic, Siberia and Alaska. Also birds like bar-headed geese comes all the way from Mongolia by crossing Mount Everest and they usually stay for over three months especially from late December to the end of February to escape the harsh winters there. This is also the time when we have the annual water bird count. But after the concrete jungles started dominating the place, the numbers started dwindling. It is really sad that people fail to recognise such beautiful migratory patterns and are mindlessly encroaching these water bodies,” rues Ambika.
Hyderabad is blessed with many lakes and land patches full of greenery which makes it a paradise for bird watching enthusiasts, places like Osman Sagar, Ameenpur lakes are popular hot-spots especially during the migration season. Also, Himayat Sagar Lake and Manjeera Lake, though a bit far from the city, are quite popular among bird enthusiasts.
The number of bird enthusiasts has increased over the years as it provides a natural experience for people living in the cities but pollution has always been a bane destroying the balance of nature. With increased small scale and large scale industries in and around the city, the pollution levels have grown exponentially in the past 10 years. Development and nature always comes at a crossroad where the latter is always at loss.
Hyderabad is one of the most polluted cities in India and it takes a toll not only on the lives of people but also on birds and animals. “Pollution has certainly affected the arrival of birds. Many of these birds now come under threat from toxic chemicals which affect the fish, which in turn affects the birds food chain. In case of Hyderabad, we are fortunate enough to have many lakes spread across the city. But unfortunately, most of them have become more of sewage dumps or are made to dry to offer space for the multi-storied apartments or factories near them or on them. To add to this none of the lakes have any maintenance agenda and are now covered with hyacinth.
This plant is known to destroy the lakes, yet the PCB, GHMC and other government departments keep tossing the ball and no one ever actually works on cleaning them up,” shares Gokul Krishna Addanki, who is a bird enthusiast and spends his weekend and holidays on bird watching and taking pictures. Many efforts has been done for migratory bird that crosses Hyderabad in its Migratory path. Bird awareness programs like bird watching trips and photography workshop are organized during the migratory season.
Also World Migratory Bird Day a two-day event annually held on the second weekend of May to highlight the need to protect migratory birds and their habitats. It is observed by organizing educational programs, lectures, bird walks, visits to bird-watching sites, competitions, art exhibitions and other public even. For more than ten years now, World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) has raised awareness about the need for conservation of migratory birds and their habitats, about the threats they face, their ecological importance, and about the need for international cooperation to conserve them.
“Everyone knows that birds migrate, but no one is clear on when and how and why factors. Having a World Migratory Bird Day twice a year indicates the migration timeline and creates an awareness in public. Educating the general public of such instances can create a lot of good for these migratory birds. Birds migrate from cold to warm places and vice versa for breeding or finding better food based on the seasons. Migratory birds are known to catch the winds and drift towards their destinations. There are occasions where birds fly up high over Himalayas to reach their end destination,’’ says Gokul Krishna Addanki.
Birding is something that is still possible even in this era and if well conserved, hopefully the future generations can still enjoy. Many birds have become extinct and many are endangered like the Florican which is a local migratory bird that crosses Hyderabad in its Migratory path it is sad to know that such a beauty is now an endangered species. These beautiful creatures were bestowed upon us by nature and our ancestors had pass it to us thus, it is the duty of this generation to pass it to the next generation without any harm to them.
Many people who are bird enthusiast said that they have become closer to the nature and have seen several beautiful places, wetlands and birds. They get to visit the most serene places outside city which are still undisturbed and have a plethora of offerings to the common man. “It is a known factor that an individual’s stress levels come down when he spends more time in wilderness and it sure is true in my case as well. I have seen a decline in habitat of birds in Hyderabad since I have started birding, I am hoping that the respective departments take the right measures to maintain the eco balance and not politicise or commercialize nature” says one of the bird enthusiast.