By Sujit Chakraborty
Guwahati (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday during his monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme highlighted the increase in number of waterfowl or ‘Jalpakshi’ in the world-famous Kaziranga National Park, the role of environmentalist Jadav Payeng, besides temples in Assam.
Referring to an interesting post on the NaMo App by Gurgaon resident Mayur, a passionate bird watcher and nature lover, the Prime Minister said: “Mayur ji has written that while he lives in Haryana, he wishes us to touch upon the people of Assam, and in particular, the people of Kaziranga. I thought that Mayur ji would talk about the rhino, hailed as the pride of Kaziranga. But Mayur ji instead has asked for appreciation of the people of Assam for the rise in the number of waterfowl in Kaziranga.”
“I was searching for a common term to describe waterfowl in simple terminology, and found the word – Jalpakshi – birds that nest not on the trees but on water, such as ducks and others,” Modi said.
He said the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNP & TR) authority has been carrying out its annual waterfowl census for some time. This census reveals the population of water birds and also about their favorite habitat.
“Just 2-3 weeks ago, the survey was conducted again. You will also be delighted to know that this time the number of water birds has increased by about 175 per cent compared to last year. A total of 112 species of birds have been sighted in KNP & TR during this census. And of these, 58 species happen to be winter migrants from different parts of the world including Europe, Central Asia and East Asia. The most important reason for this is that here, there is better water conservation along with very little human interference. However, in some cases, positive human interference is also very important.”
After the KNP & TR authority’s two-day third annual waterfowl census on February 6 and 7, the waterfowl species’ numbers rose to 112 from 99.
KNP & TR Director Karmashree P. Sivakumar earlier told IANS: “The number of wetland birds counted in the second census last year was 34,284 belonging to 99 species and the 10,412 waterfowl belonging to 80 species recorded during the baseline survey in 2018.”
He said the highest number of species – 26 – are from the family Anatidae, which is the family of ducks and geese. The other species with considerable numbers include gadwall, common coot, lesser whistling duck, Indian spot-billed duck, little cormorant, ferruginous duck, tufted duck, Eurasian wigeon, Asian openbill, northern lapwing, ruddy shelduck and spot-billed pelican.
The top three species counted by number are Eurasian Coot, Bar-headed Geese and Common Teal. Of the 112 waterfowl species found in Kaziranga, 58 are migratory species visiting Kaziranga from different parts of the world including Europe, Central Asia and East Asia, he said.
The Prime Minister on Sunday underlined the dedication and contribution of environmentalist Jadav Payeng of Assam “with whom some of you certainly must be familiar”.
“He has received the Padma award for his work. Jadav Payeng is the person who actively contributed in raising about 300 hectares of plantations in the Majuli island in Assam. He has been constantly working for forest conservation and is also involved in motivating people for plantation and conservation of biodiversity,” Modi said.
57-year-old Assamese farmer Payeng’s homeland, Majuli island, located on the Brahmaputra river in Jorhat district of eastern Assam, suffered a devastating flood in 1979. A significant number of snakes fled away were later found dead on the banks of the river.