An entire colony of painted storks deserted Keoladeo mid-season this year. Is the wetland dying?
Samiss when veteran OMETHING WAS bird watcher Abrar Khan entered the Keoladeo National Park in midJanuary. It was unusually quiet for this part of the year. “Earlier, when birds would chirp, nothing else could be heard,” he recalls. A retired range officer of the Bharatpur wildlife department,Khan knows the park intimately.He remembers the days when thousands of painted storks and other birds would visit the park in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan. Although their numbers have dwindled over the years, nearly a thousand piainted storks did visit Bharatpur this season, but they were nowhere to be spotted.
Khan was acompanying ecologist T K Roy, who works with the South Asia chapter of Wetlands International. Roy was conducting a survey as part of the Asian Water Bird Census (awc).To his surprise,he found only two painted storks in the park, a World Heritage Site.
The painted stork is a local migratory species that usually flocks from southern India to Bharatpur in October every year. The birds leave after April for south India, where they stay for some time.They return in