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E N V I O R N M E N T : W E T L A N D S

Even birds avoid India!
Wetlands are depleting, and those that remain are toxic in nature

   TFlapping for the last time?ransnational migrants who are welcomed into countries without visas are steadily changing their flight path. Colourful birds that visit number of water bodies and wetlands in India (as part of their annual migration) are depleting in numbers. Ornithologists have noted that this decline have been a troubling symptom of the downgraded health of water bodies. Wetlands International and Waterbird Population Estimates (WPE) note an alarming 62% reduction in numbers of the known bird population across Asia. In India, hundreds of wetlands enjoy no protection as only those that are located inside sanctuaries (only 25 in India) are recognised under the Ramsar Convention. Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History has stated that in most cases, it has been the direct or indirect human intervention that has aggravated the crisis. The wetlands are being poisoned with industrial effluents, pesticides and fertilisers; and fish on whom many of the birds feed upon are most of the times loaded with harmful chemicals. Among other reasons, habitat destruction, global warming and human intervention like hunting have caused depressing repercussions. WPE has noted that almost 24 more bird species are now under the most endangered list than they were four years back. But does it really matter to us?

The disturbing trend then needs urgent redressal with far far-sighted policies that identify the importance of wetlands and their visitors. More than that, it has been the social awareness that is desperately needed to correct the situation.

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