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1 million migratory birds counted at Odisha’s Chilika lake "EMPOWER IAS"

In news:

  • A record 1,105,040 migratory birds belonging to 184 species have arrived in Odisha’s Chilika lake this year, the annual bird count conducted by the Chilika Wildlife Division recently showed.


More from the news:

  • Last year, 1,047,978 birds belonging to 183 species had arrived at Chilika, which is Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon.
  • This year, five rare Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris) birds were sighted after five years in Chilika.
  •  The Great Knot is a small wader. It is the largest of the calidrid species.
  • The Nalabana island or Nalabana Bird Sanctuary inside the lake, continued to be the most favoured destination for the birds, with the census report showing that 406,368 birds belonging to 102 species  arrived in the 15.53 sq km sanctuary area this year.
  • Last year, 397,825 migratory birds had arrived in Nalabana during the winter. 
  •  This year, 182,187 Northern Pintails also sighted.
  • The increase in the number of migratory birds this year is due to the availability of open space, following the eviction of large tracks of illegal prawn gheries by the Chilika Development Authority (CDA).
  • The increase in the number of bird visiting Chilika Lake is believed to be a good sign for bird conservation programmes in India,
  • Migratory birds usually start arriving at Chilika in November as it is a comparatively hospitable alternate habitat compared to the extreme freezing conditions in their natural habitats in Siberia, China, Japan and other countries in the northern hemisphere. 
  • The birds often frequent open wetlands which have enough fish, prawns, frogs, snakes and molluscs.  


Chilka Lake:

  • Chilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha state on the east coast of India, at the mouth of the Daya River, flowing into the Bay of Bengal
  • It is Asia’s largest salt-water lagoon and is separated from the Bay of Bengal by a sandy ridge.
  • It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent.
  • Chilka Lake is designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
  • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.
  • It was put under Montreux Record (record for such sites where there has been or likely to be adverse ecological change due to manmade activities), but was later removed from it due to conservation efforts.
  • Rambha sector in the Chilika Lake is the ideal sector for dolphins to play, flock and mate because of the stillness of the water in the bay area.
  • Chilika, known for its exquisite natural beauty, attracts many tourists because of its dolphin population.
  • Last year, the Odisha High Court ordered the state government to initiate the demolition of illegal prawn gherries in Chilika in order to restore the ecology of the wetland. 
  • Gherries are areas encroached for illegal prawn cultivation inside the wetland area
  • Illegal prawn farming was also choking the biodiversity of Chilika. 
  • The migratory birds were earlier confined to the Nalabana bird sanctuary and some areas of Chilika. But this year, the birds have been spread all over the lake.






About Chilika  Development Authority:

  • Chilika  Development  Authority has  been created under  Forest & Environment Department of Government of Odisha in the year 1991.
  • It was formed with an objective for the conservation of ecology of Chilika lagoon and to bring an all-round development in and around the lagoon which calls for multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary development activities.

Ramsar sites in India:



Nalabana Bird Sanctuary:

  • Nalbana Bird Sanctuary or Nalbana Island is the core area of the Ramsar designated wetlands of Chilika Lake.
  • The island disappears during the monsoon due to inundation, only to emerge again post-monsoon.
  • It was declared a bird sanctuary under the Wildlife Protection Act in 1973
  • In the heart of the park, one can see thousands of birds descending during the migratory season. The island disappears during monsoon season due to inundation only to emerge again in post-monsoon.
  • Nalbana means a weed covered island In the Odia language.
  • Nalbana was notified in 1987 and declared a bird sanctuary in 1973 under the Wildlife Protection Act
  • In 2002, The Bombay Natural History Society survey recorded 540 nests of the Indian river tern at the island, the largest nesting colony in the southeast Asia.

Conservation efforts in India for the migratory birds:

  • The Government of India is providing financial and technical assistance to specialized institutions like Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) etc. for conducting various studies for monitoring populations of important bird species and their habitat.
  • The important steps taken for protecting migratory birds are given below:
  • Rare and endangered species of birds, including migratory birds, are included in Schedule-I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 thereby according them the highest degree of protection.
  • Stringent punishments have been provided for in the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 for violation of the provisions of the Act.
  • Important habitats of birds, including migratory birds, have been notified as Protected Areas under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 for better conservation and protection of birds and their habitats.
  • Financial and technical assistance is provided to the State/UT Governments for protection and management of Protected Areas.
  • Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been established for the control of illegal trade in wildlife and its parts and products.