Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Two-day Birding Fair at Man Sagar

JAIPUR: It is that time of the year when winged visitors from far off land begin nesting in Pink City. And what better way to commemorate the homecoming of these beauties but to hold a two-day Birding Fair at the Man Sagar lake from Tuesday. The lake houses the historic Jal Mahal, which remains a popular draw for the tourists.
At present the Man Sagar is teeming with migratory birds. Nearly 2,000 Shovelers are a sight to witness besides coots, pintails and wigeon that are also present though less in number. The common moorhen and spotbilled ducks have also started breeding at this lake of late.
And though all of this indicate improving water quality of water in the lake but conservationists are irked over the mangoor fish that was introduced at the lake some years ago when it was under a contractor of the fisheries department.
Mangoor, an African species about two-and-a-half-feet long, was introduced here to make more money though this species is banned in India. According to conservationists, this fish is devouring other smaller fish and even birds but with no predator for this fish it has become a problem for resident species.
"The paradox of the fair will be that while one will get to see a lot of migratory birds, the resident species here are few in number. The Mangoor has been a deterrent for the resident species and even other local fishes. It is definitely a matter of concern," says Harsh Vardhan, a conservationists.
Harsh Vardhan has shot numerous memorandums to the fishers department but action is yet to be initiated. "The fish is spread over the 1.5 sq km of the lake's area and to remove the fish from the lake is indeed going to a big effort. But one hopes that when such a lot is being done for preserving the lake, the fisheries department too initiate efforts in this direction," he says.
This year the fair will be dedicated to 'Rivers' Restoration' to enable decision makers realise how important the role of rivers has been in human civilisation, especially as these waters ways become increasingly polluted and most cities face shortage of potable water.
Two British experts Robert Oates, director of The Thames River Restoration Trust, and Jim Lyons, technical specialist for Fish Science at UK's The Environment Agency will be attending the fair this year.
While Oates has been invited to hold discussions on the Thames restoration experience to see if it could be of use here at the lake, Lyons will advise on role of fish in maintaining the quality of water. Oats will be speaking at the Subodh College Hall in Tuesday.
The Birding Fair has been a citizen' initiative since it started in 1997. The Fair is supported by WWF India, Bombay Natural History Society, schools, teachers, government departments like tourism, forest, Jaipur Development Authority, banks etc.
Introduction of aquatic vegetation in the lake, removing plastic waste, bypassing the main drain and treatment of polluted storm water are some of the initiatives taken at the lake. Water quality at the Man Sagar has also improved since the time a foul odour deterred visitors from standing by the main road until a few years ago.
As a result more birds have started arriving at the lake. More than 180 species of birds have been registered in and around this lake throughout the year. The fish management is also underway but a lot more needs to be done at this scenic water body.

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