This city which was well-known for its abundant lakes and vast greenery was once a paradise for the annual winged visitors from far off countries. During winter, lakhs of birds migrated from Siberia and other places to roost and nest in places like Bangalore. They moved periodically because of the food availability, temporary habitat and to escape from extreme cold.
Over the years, rapid industrialization and increasing population followed by environmental pollution and large scale felling of trees, not only the lakes but also the birds have disappeared. Environmentalists and bird watchers say that in the last two decades, there has been a considerable decline in the footfall of migratory birds with large scale habitat destruction.
Well known ornithologist Arun Kulige elaborates,“Nearly two decades ago, green-winged teal, common swallows, waders, shovellers, pin-tail ducks, rosy starlings, and a host of other birds used to migrate in great numbers from Europe, Central Asia and Siberia. But gradually we have witnessed a 90 per cent decline in migratory birds. The disappearance of lakes, trees being cut and environment hazards are the major reasons."
Well known film maker and environmentalist Suresh Heblikar, says, “Once migratory birds from Siberia, Europe, Tibet, Himalayan Ranges and France such as Siberian Warblers, Pin-tail Bar-headed Geese, Gulls, Poachers, etc flocked to our city during the winter. The drastic decline has been mainly because of environmental pollution, vanishing of water bodies and degradation of lakes.”
Dr A N Yellappa Reddy, former Special Secretary, Environment department explains, “Earlier in 1990's, thousands of birds migrated during winter from various parts of the country. Herons, snake birds, ducks, swans, geese, cranes, poachers and gulls could be seen. At present, only 26 varieties of migratory birds can be found in Bangalore. The increasing pollution, bio-diversity of the aquatic life, dumping of garbage, rapid industrialization and urbanization have led to the gradual decrease in their numbers.
About the need for precautionary measures to be taken up by the government, Heblikar said, “When they are unable to manage the problem of segregation of waste, how can you expect the government to think of migratory birds and provide the right habitat or surroundings to them?”
While Yellappa Reddy said, "There is an urgent to focus on remedial measures like saving the lakes and rejuvenation of eco-system to restore verdant lands and also see that the environment is not contaminated." Adding to it, Kulige said, "To overcome this problem, we need to improve and preserve the greenery, conserve and maintain the lakes so as to provide a proper habitat for the migratory birds."