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Deepor Beel Is Losing Winged Visitors

Deepor Beel Is Losing Winged Visitors

Birds at Deepar Beel

India is home to about 2100 species of birds, where over 300 are winter visitors –  chiefly from Palaearctic Region. A lot of these birds can be spotted in the Deepor Beel Bird Sanctuary near Guwahati

By Topashish Bhattacharjee   |   Photographs by Apurba Rajbongshi

Much of Northeast India is covered with glorious wilderness and tropical dense forests and with much of it still not explored. From the vast grasslands of Kaziranga in the Brahmaputra Valley, to the dense tropical and temperate forests of the Eastern Himalayas, to the Alpine meadows near the snowline, this area has it all.

The region is home to large varieties of birds and is home to many endemic bird species. Many migratory birds also visit the region during winter every year. It is an important route for these birds.

The Northeast of India is one of the world’s most significant biodiversity hotspots, and is one of the richest bird areas in India. In order to understand the bird habitat better, the Indian subcontinent is divided into five geographical subdivisions.

It is estimated that the India is home to about 2100 species of birds, where over 300 are winter visitors – chiefly from the Palaearctic Region. A large proportion of these birds can be seen in the entire Northeast. There are many bird sanctuaries in the Northeast and one of them is Deepor Beel Bird Sanctuary.

Deepor Beel has been a treat for bird lovers. It has a huge lake with hills on one side, and is one of the most important bird sanctuaries in the state of Assam. Situated on the south-western side of Guwahati, Deepor Beel is located on National Highway 31 and lies between Garchuk and Jalukbari.

It was declared as a bird sanctuary in 1989 and in 2002 it was declared a Protected Wetland.

Deepar Beel : Birds and the Bridge

Being an avid wild-lifer I love capturing wildlife species in my camera and birding has always been my primary interest. One can visit Deepor Beel any time of the year, though I would recommend going there during winter as that is when several species of migratory birds come in for their annual breeding. It is quite an experience and observers can watch these birds clearly.

Experts have recorded about 219 species of birds that can be spotted in Deepor Beel and about 70 of them are migratory ones. Rest of the year several birds like Egrets, Pond Herons, Storks, Cormorants and even Pelicans can be spotted in the water bodies looking for fish. Among the migratory birds I have seen are Siberian Cranes, Barn Swallows, Asian Open-Billed Storks, Pied Wagtails and several other species.

The storks at Deepar Beel Bird Sanctury

There are several other birds which can be seen too. Among them are Red-Vented Bulbul, Drongo, Hoopoes, Woodpeckers, Kingfishers and many more.

Because it is close to the Rani and Garbhanga reserve forests in the South, Deepor Beel gets herds of elephants which come occasionally to drink and bathe. Other animals like leopards, wild cats, porcupines, barking and spotted deer can also be seen in Beel.

Unfortunately Deepor Beel has been fighting for its existence for the past few years now. Beel used to serve as a place to earn one’s livelihood for villagers staying very close to the area as they depend on fishing. Apart from fishing, villagers have also been actively preserving the area to sustain the ecosystem. The locals realise it is important to save the area and have been active to keep Deepor Beel fit for all purposes.

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Birds flying off

However, they were moved out from their habitat a while ago and the municipality corporation has made Deepor Beel a dumping ground. Many birds were found dead a few years back. Though the real cause is still unknown, experts assume that birds consumed trash from the dumpings.

The water body is getting polluted with harmful chemicals due to which it has put the lives of many endangered species under threat. In 2015 it was suggested that the dumping ground be shifted to Chandrapur but till now no action has been taken.

The Boatman

Another major problem that Deepor Beel faces is the encroachment of some of its area by National Public School. The authorities have destroyed the lake by filling and creating boundary walls. Deepor Beel is very important for Guwahati and its surrounding ecosystem because it provides a natural heritage to exist within easy reach for the citizens of Guwahati to enjoy. It shouldn’t be allowed to die.

 

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