BHUBANESWAR: A record 28,569 water birds were counted during the Mahanadi River Waterbird Census - 2020 recently. The number of avian guests recorded is the highest compared to the previous four censuses from 2016 to 2019, said Wild Orissa members. The organisation carried out the census on behalf of Asian Waterbirds Census and Wetlands International.
There has been a rise in the number of species too this season. During the census carried out in 50 km stretch of the river, from Banki to Jobra, Wild Orissa found 71 species against 58 varieties spotted in 2018 census. The wetlands and water-bodies located on both sides of the river were also included in the process of counting as they constitute part of the Mahanadi river eco-system.
Many rare and endangered bird species including Black Bellied Tern, Oriental Darter, Great Thick Knee, River Lapwing and River Tern were found during the census.
Wild Orissa members said preliminary findings of the census revealed that Mahanadi ecosystem is extremely rich in avi-faunal diversity and needs to be protected under appropriate legal regime of the country.
There is also an immediate need to consider scaling up the importance of this stretch of the river under various international monitoring systems, so that increased focus is placed on conservation of this wetland.
Around 60 trained volunteers from Kalinga Birds group, Mangalajodi Sri Sri Mahavir Pakshi Surakshya Samiti, research scholars and students from North Odisha University, Utkal University, Berhampur University, Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology, Centurion University and others were engaged for the bird census.