Messengers of peace, migratory birds arrive at Jammu’s Gharana Wetland along Indo-Pak border

TNN Bureau. Updated: 12/7/2018 3:06:39 PM Jammu and Kashmir

Gharana (Jammu), Dec 7: After covering thousands of miles, flock of migratory birds commonly known as Siberian Birds—the messengers of peace—have arrived at Gharana Wetland situated close to Indo-Pak international border in Ranbir Singh Pura sector here.

A habitat for migratory birds arriving from Siberia, Central Asia, China, East Europe and New Zealand, Gharana Wetland remains center of attraction for the visitors for nearly two-months from December to February.

“Nearly 1,000 to 1,,500 migratory bird species including 310 water bird species have thronged the wetland,” an official here said.

Gharana Wetland Conservation Reserve in R S Pura sector also attracts hundreds of migratory birds every winter including the bar–headed goose– a bird of unique high altitude migration that fly over high passes of Himalaya, even Mt Everest , during their sojourn.

The wetland attracts the guests due to its ecological diversity of flora and fauna and aquatic vegetation.

Gharana is also considered as winter home for magnificent Northern Cardinal famous for red gear and orange beak.

An official said that ‘Raj Hans’ flies over the Himalayas from their breeding grounds in Central Asia to escape the cold weather and breed in the warm weather of Jammu.

Although the border residents earlier use to bust crackers and fire gun shots in air to disturb the assembling of birds claiming that they damage their standing crops but with an intervention of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, check was laid on such practice aiming to allow these migratory guests arrive at Gharana.

“Many rare species of avian also settle here permanently and hatch eggs in their nests,” he added.

Meanwhile the visitors especially the school children, who were being brought here to have a glimpse of migratory birds, rued poor facilities at the spot particularly the road connectivity.

“The wetland is just few metres away from the Pakistan border so we cannot make larger arrangements on the spot and our attempt is also to prevent heavy rush of visitors at a time as safety measure,” a local manning the wetland expressed.

The wetland is still being encroached and is not becoming a conservation reserve though a notification was issued in 1986.

Bird species like bar-headed geese, gadwalls, common teals, Purple swamp hens, Indian moor hens, black-winged stilts, cormorants, egrets, green shanks are attracting the visitors these days to this place.

In a meeting of officials of Wildlife held in November, chaired by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) J&K /Chief Wildlife Warden Suresh Chugh took stock of the preparedness and measures taken for safe stay of the migratory birds during the winter season and further improvement for conservation of the wetland.

The Regional Wildlife Warden Jammu Tahir Shawl apprised him about the details of migratory bird species that have arrived at Gharana and the measure taken to make the habitat more suitable through scientific management interventions like selective removal of weed, monitoring of birds and watch and ward for averting any hunting or poaching attempt.

He further apprised the officials about management plan of Gharana wetland prepared by the department which is being finalised shortly.

Gharana located along the Central Asian Flyway is a notified wetland conservation reserve under the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Protection Act 1978, and also has international recognition as one of the IBAs (Important Bird Areas) in the world, declared by Birdlife International (UK) and BNHS.

Around 408 kanals of water body has been delineated with poles as per the directions of the High Court while acquisition for private land is in progress.

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