by Tejas Sawant, Class 9, Don Bosco High School, Borivali
Last year, I visited the bird watching centre at Gwalior, which had a lake surrounded by thousands of bushes of some special species. The greenish blue water of the lake just caught my eye but the icing on the cake was the bird watching programme. I saw different types of birds such as Ruddy Shelducs, Great-crested Grebes, Gadwalls, Coots, Tufted and Red Pochards, Bar-headed Geese, Lesser Whistling Ducks, Red-wattled Lawpings, Bronze-winged Jacanas and many other species. What a wonderful experience it was!
However, to my surprise, when I visited the same park this year I did not get to see the diverse species which I saw previously. Naturally, like everyone, I also started thinking about the cause of this. Now let me tell you a word or two regarding these exotic migratory birds. Every year in the winter, thousands of birds from the region of Siberia and the Pacific leave their homelands due to freezing temperatures and come to India. On their extremely long migratory course they have to survive on food found in mangroves and other marshy areas. The officials there told me that the major reason for the decrease in the number of birds is the lack of food and poaching. Today, thousands of mangroves are disappearing due to reclamation of land or for use in some other commercial purposes. Consequently, the birds are deprived of their food and majority of them perish on their difficult journey. When exhausted on their way, they also roost in the mangroves. The disappearance of mangroves thus results in exhaustion and later death.
Poaching is another evil which proves fatal for the birds. Every year, lakhs of exotic birds are killed or trapped either for money or entertainment. Even in highly secured parks and sanctuaries, cruel hunters intrude and brutally kill these birds. Several birds are trapped and sold off. Water pollution, increasing urbanisation and many other factors are just adding fuel to the fire. As a result, the biological diversity is waning day by day.
The park also implements certain measures, but things are not as good as they used to be. So we should try to bring down the level of pollution in coastal areas to ensure the survival of the mangroves. To talk about hunting we can say that, one's source of entertainment can cost a life. It is necessary to pay heed to these points so that we can give a warm welcome to our migratory guests when they pay us an annual visit, as 'Atithi devo bhava' is a part of our very own Indian culture.