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Water birds at Belauri on a sharp decline


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2023 Feb 25, 20:29, Kanchanpur
Representative Image via Wikimedia Commons/Google

Bhurakot of Belauri Municipality-6 in Kanchanpur district, known as a paradise of birds, has seen a declining number of water birds, thanks to human encroachment on their habitat.

Water birds live on and around water, and they prefer wetlands for a variety of activities including feeding, breeding, nesting, and molting. Now, as a result of human encroachment, the Purainilake at Bhurakot spanning 32 bighas of land has shrunk to 28 bighas.

Filled with a large number of water birds during winter, the area has this year witnessed their small number, said, local people. "Their activities like swimming, dabbling, and flying around the lake have attracted tourists. Big-sized duck-like bird species would descend in the area from hills when winter began, and they would return to their destinations with the onset of the summer season. But, this winter, their arrival has decreased sharply," said resident Khadka Bahadur Chand.

Lotus flowers would bloom attracting water birds. Anyone would be mesmerized seeing their activities. "But with time, the flower too has disappeared and so have been the birds," he said.

Many species of fish used to be found in the lake. A fish weighed over five kilograms. Even now, fish weighing one kilogram each are found in the lake said another local Laxman Khatri. But, people from neighboring India visited and fished here. "They illegally visited, killed birds, and fished by poisoning them," he said.

Concerned authorities have not paid heed about conserving the lake, thus making the matter worse, he worried.

The lake is home to 48 species of birds and over 10 species of an indigenous birds. But, their number has declined to around 30 species at present, said the locals.

The number of water birds has declined largely due to human encroachment on their habitat, said ornithologist Hiru Lal Dagaura, who works for the Nepal Bird Conservation Association.

"The lake is the place where many types of water birds are found. The Sikari Lake beside the Shuklaphanta National Park is one such place. Bird habitats should be managed, and the shrinking lake is demarcated. The local people should especially focus on conserving the lake because it is outside the national park. The lake and surroundings are the heritage of all and they must be conserved," he said.

Last year, the local Siddheshwor cooperative dug three ponds where it had reared fish with the help of Belauri Municipality. The cooperative got a subsidy worth over Rs 200 thousand under the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project. It earned over Rs 200 thousand from the business.

But, fish farming ended following a protest by the local people. "We had deployed a person to protect the lake and help conserve water birds after the Municipality had entrusted us with the conservation of the lake and fish farming. But, fish farming has ended this year," said Dagaura.

He blamed climate change and the lack of prey for birds for their declining number.

Water hyacinth is also shrinking the lake, he said. Local people also drain the water from the lake and use it for irrigation, resulting in its drying.

For the Municipality, it has been at work to conserve the lake. The municipality has launched various conservation programs, said the municipality Deputy Mayor Kulbir Chaudhary.

"We have seriously taken the issue of conserving the lake. We have banned fishing in the lake. We will also address the concern of local people that arable lands have turned into wetlands. There is a plan to develop the lake and the wetland area as a tourist destination," he said.

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Water birds Belauri Municipality-6 Kanchanpur district paradise of birds declining number human encroachment Nepal Bird Conservation Association Shuklaphanta National Park
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