Haryana has always been a fertile, green paradise home to some of the most beautiful birds in India and the land where a number of other migratory birds head to each winter. Sadly, human interference and a failure of the state administration to maintain the natural habitat of these birds have led to a mass decline in such migration over the past 5-6 years.
The wildlife sanctuaries of the state no longer seem to act as winter homes for the hundreds of thousands of migratory birds that used to arrive here. Sultanpur National Park and Bird Sanctuary, located in the Gurgaon district has traditionally been an avian haven. The sanctuary has been the natural habitat of over 50 species of indigenous birds and 90 other exotic species of birds used to arrive here each winter, till about a decade ago. Most of these birds would arrive here from the coldest parts of Serbia, Europe, and Central Asia. But this is no longer the case. News reports from December 2012 reported the arrival of only about 25 species of birds and anticipated that some 30 more may possibly migrate there. Poor maintenance of the Sultanpur National Park has been primarily blamed for the decline in ornithological value and in the number of migratory avian population. The Sultanpur lake - home to many varieties of geese, herons, storks, cranes, and swans in winter months - is now running dry to the indiscriminate construction work all around. Cement spills have been chocking the canals that feed the lake. The decline in the number of migratory birds is not surprising.
In the winter months, a large number of flamingoes used to migrate to the Bassai wetlands till about a few years ago. The Nigdu Sarovar in the Nilokheri block of Karnal district and a number of such lakes and ponds of rural Haryana were replete with the flutter of wings and the colorful feathers of visitors in the winter months. Failure to maintain the natural eco system has resulted in the total absence in many species of exotic birds and mallards, teals, pochards, and ducks.
Apart from the wetlands, the Chhilchhila Wildlife Sanctuary of Kurukshetra district has also been seeing a steady decline in the numbers of migratory birds flocking here since 2009. A study reveals that human intrusion and activities such as destruction of greenery and vegetation, livestock grazing, and firewood collection are the main causes for such a decline.
With the decline in the number of migratory birds, the value of the wetlands and the wildlife and bird sanctuaries in Haryana is declining as tourist attractions. The state is not only losing precious natural beauty and wildlife, but also the revenue in the form of tourism. Eco tourism is a great opportunity for the state which allows for a number of employment opportunities the potential to tap into this is lost with the loss of ecological systems in the state.
The state government's intervention in resolving this concern must be immense and immediate. The protection of the wild life sanctuaries is a matter of strict law enforcement. Poaching and bird shooting need to be prohibited and offenders punished. Currently these practices are dealt with loosely. Enlisting the help of universities, ecological protection organisation, and NGOs will go a long way to aid the cause.
Our vision of Naya Haryana is a state that is teeming with happiness and prosperity the kind that may be achieved only when the people of Haryana live in glorious harmony with nature and the amazing creatures of the animal kingdom.