A latest research study says there could be around 30000 waterfowls and 56 species of birds in a small 50 hectares Chatlam-Fushkoori wetland of Kashmir.
The study was carried out during 2012-14 to assess the pre and post flood changes in the status, distribution and breeding behavior of Water birds in Chatlam-Manibugh wetlands in Pampore.
In this period, 56 species belonging to 12 families with 14 species of migratory waterfowl were recorded in Chatlam-Fushkoori Conservation Reserve, reads the paper. There has been a considerable increase in the number and diversity of resident and migratory water birds visiting to the wetland since early nineties when few species (5-6) in very less numbers (in hundreds) have been reported visiting the wetland area.
The research paper is published in Life Sciences International Research Journal, Volume 2 Special Issue, 2015 by Kashmiri research scholar Sajad-ul-Akbar and others.
The population of waterfowl which start their arrival in mid November peaks to around more than 10,000-30,000 in the area during the last week of February and latter started declining in numbers as the temperature in the valley rises before their return migrating during early spring, reads the abstract of the paper.
The present study was carried out in the Chatlam- Fushkoori wetland reserve from January 2012-December 2014 following “point count and scan sampling” along the fixed transect surveys made through boats inside the five fixed wetland blocks on regular basis in all seasons.
The paper has also stated few worrying things to be taken care of. It says, “The incessant human disturbances prevalent in and around the wetland owing to hinting and poaching of birds by locals besides heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers in the crop fields and orchards compounded with the over fishing, encroachments of the wetland and subsequent reclamations by locals, poultry farms around posing disease threat to waterfowl, waste disposal by locals into the wetland are causes of grave concern for the long term survival and conservation of the wetland conservation reserve and the resident breeding and migratory water birds inhabiting and visiting the wetland, although, these activities were seen least in winter months when icy period (Chillaikalan) hit the Kashmir valley.”
The wetland besides being encroached by local villagers is under various anthropogenic pressures posing serious threat to the wetland and waterfowl distribution, moment patterns, ecology and conservation. The regular movements of waterfowl towards the banks of Fish Farm and orchids fields in the nearby villages is one amongst the several threats for the long term conservation and survival of the migratory waterfowl and breeding birds the wetland inhabits, it says.
The Chatlam-Fushkoori Wetland Conservation Reserve is a satellite wetland in Pampore town of south Kashmir of Pulwama district in Jammu and Kashmir, located about 16 Kms from summer capital Srinagar.
The Chatlam-Fushkoori Conservation Reserve associated with many other smaller satellite wetlands like Chandhara (Kranchoo) and Monibugh supports a rich diversity of migratory birds coming from different parts of world including Siberia and Central Asia during winter. The wetland reserve is surrounded by three villages namely Chatlam giving it the name Chatlam Wetland, Konibal and Meej. The plateau area adjoining this wetland is famous for its cash crop Saffron (Kesar).