One of the tallest birds Sarus stands tall in Indore’s Yeshwant Sagar.
One of the tallest birds Sarus stands tall in Indore’s Yeshwant Sagar.
Photo Ravi Sharma

Indore: Despite conducive environment, Sarus' population fails to increase as expected, due to fishing and excessive use of pesticides in the farms near the habitats in Indore. The trend from preceding years shows a fall in the rise of Sarus population in various areas.

Yeshwant Sagar is an IBA (important bird area) site of Indore region. It’s an IBA site because of breeding ground to one of the tallest flying birds of the world, the Sarus crane, which is in the IUCN red list.

Indore: Bird lovers worried over slow rise in Sarus pop at Yeshwant Sagar

In every summer Sarus cranes congregate in and around the Yeshwant Sagar area which is a good wetland plus have agriculture fields around it which make it a suitable habitat for the feeding, breeding & roosting site for them.

Every year NWCAS team carries out extensive surveys in this area to take the count of Sarus cranes to understand their change in numbers and also to study the change in land use patterns, change in habitat, issues and changes in the surrounding ecosystem due to human activities which have major impact in any system.

This year the survey was started in the 4th week of May after the unlock phase & concluded on 20th June 2021. “We thoroughly scanned the entire Yeshwant Sagar and its surrounding area, this year there has been only 2 more added in their count as compared to last year,” ornithologist Ravi Sharma, president of NWCAS, said.

This year total 76 Sarus were recorded in all whereas last year count was 74 in number. “It’s alarming why Sarus numbers have not increased though last year had good rainfall, agricultural crops production hence better availability of water & food for them,” Sharma said.

Last year, the team had recorded that their numbers had risen by 10 percent and in the preceding year, i.e. in 2018, there was a rise of 24 percent. “So this trend is not a good sign and we need to work further to check this trend,” Sharma said.

As per the team’s observation, there are some reasons, which might have affected the numbers. The following reasons were sighted in the report shared by Sharma:

1. Nowadays excessive fishing is going on at the Yeshwant Sagar and water is shifting from main pond to small ponds for fisheries. Large numbers of fishing nets were found hanged on poles for drying that was causing disturbance in the entire area

2. At Gulawat area during Covid, bamboos were removed or burnt for various reasons. Also it has turned out to be a hot picnic spot that is causing disturbance to the birds.

3. New linking road is also under development around the periphery of Yeshwant Sagar which also impacts te birds.

4. There might have been higher mortality rate among the youngsters, but futher study is needed for a definitive answer.

5. Due to use of pesticide in growing vegetables on the dried land of Yeshwant Sagar in summer, the water is getting contaminated, hence damaging ecology of the place.

“It’s a need of hour to collectively work to protect and conserve the Yeshwant Sagar ecology so that we can conserve the good IBA site which has over 275- 300 bird species and also various water dependent plants, reeds, microbes & animals,” Sharma said.

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