Drought in Telangana hits migratory birds

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Hyderabad, May 16: Fewer migratory birds have arrived here due to the severe drought in Telangana for a second year in a row. With most lakes in and around Hyderabad drying up, the migratory birds are headed for alternate lakes which still have some water left.

Birders say the avian population flocking to the lakes has definitely come down.

birds

"While the impact is based on observations, we can say that the drought is having an impact on migratory birds," said R. Deepak, field research cum education officer at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) at Hyderabad.

He pointed out that even the duration of the stay of the birds had come down.

Four reservoirs catering to drinking water requirements of Hyderabad have dried up. They include Osmansagar, which used to attract a good number of Pelicans and other migratory birds every year.

Gandipet, as Osmansagar is popularly known, and Shameerpet lake were among the stopover points in Hyderabad for migratory birds on their way from Ladakh to Sri Lanka.

According to Deepak, there has been fluctuation in the number of migratory birds in recent years due to recurring drought and disturbances caused at Shameerpet lake on account of construction activity.

Interestingly, Hussainsagar, the lake located in the heart of Hyderabad, was once a stopover point for the winged visitors including Flamingos, but it is now a dead lake.

Bird watchers say the migratory birds, while choosing the lakes for their stay, look at availability of food, safety and quality of water.

"The migration happens for food. When they stop at the lakes enroute, they see if water is available. They have to fly a lot and food is their propeller," he said, referring to the outcome of a study which revealed that the birds weigh more during migration than other seasons.

While most lakes have dried up, the Ameenpur lake in Medak district near Hyderabad is attracting migratory birds.

Bird watchers say flamingos, pelicans, painted storks, gray herons and other birds which used to stop at Osmansagar and other lakes have moved to Ameenpur, which is also rich in flora and fauna.

"The lake is rich in biodiversity with a variety of birds, herbs, shrubs, creepers, medicinal flora, trees, animals and reptiles," said Tejdeep Kaur Menon, director general of Telangana State Special Protection Force (TSSPF) which has adopted the lake.

TSSPF last year cleaned the lake by involving various groups and different sections of people.

"We became part of this effort and we persuaded people not to immerse Ganesh idols in the lake," said Vincent Vinay Kumar , a member of Hyderabad Birding Pals (HBP).

HBP has 2,000 members and many members go to Ameenpur lake every Sunday.

"This lake is an attraction for every birder. We find a surprise every time we go there," said Harikrishna Adepu, another member of HBP.

"Ameenpur started attracting migratory birds two years ago and this is the first time we have seen Pelicans here," he said.

Though the migration season is already over, one still finds flamingos at Ameenpur.

Harikrishna believes about 200 flamingos have become resident. "Probably, they could not fly back because they did not get enough food and the body fat has not developed."

Kolleru lake in Andhra Pradesh, which attracts a huge number of migratory birds every year, has also dried up.

"Only good rains and proper maintenance of lakes can help in improving the situation," said Vincent, a former cricketer.

IANS

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