CHANDIGARH: Smog and stubble burning have deterred avian guests — which fly in from Siberia, Russia, Kazakhstan to escape the cold winters — from making a temporary home in Punjab’s Harike wetlands and Haryana’s Bhindawas Bird Sanctuary this year.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) experts say the number of birds arriving at the two sites have fallen by a whopping 50% this year as assessed till November 30. As per the WWF bird census this year, only 35,000 winged guests have come as compared to 60,000 in the corresponding period last year. The reason: They are unable to locate water bodies due to poor visibility, courtesy smog, while those here are finding it difficult to feed due to farm fires.
Gunbir Singh, Chairperson Punjab, WWF-India said, “It is still early days into the migration season for the avians. The impact of change, if any, will be computed by our teams in tandem with the Punjab forest and wildlife teams in January, which is the peak time.”
He said, “Environmental pollution and the consequent smog that sets into the northern plains during autumn does interfere with the birds natural migration patterns. Sighting the wetlands as well as finding worms to feed is impacted by post-harvest fires.”
Harike wetlands has over the years become a home to rare varieties of avifauna that arrives here from different parts of Europe and Northern Asia. In 2018-19 WWF had recorded 1.23 lakh bird arrivals.