By Abinash Chaudhary Dhangadi, July 24: The Ghodaghodi wetland area of Kailali district, which is famous for bird watching, is turning into a bird sanctuary. The Ghodaghodi Municipality has decided to make the Ghodaghodi wetland area, which is listed in the World Ramsar Area, the first bird sanctuary in Nepal. The 13th Municipal Assembly of the municipality has unanimously endorsed the decision. The bird sanctuary is an area where birds can feed and fly freely in a fearless environment. The municipality has decided to make the Ghodaghodi wetland area a ‘bird sanctuary’ to support bird conservation and tourism development, said Umesh Raj Regmi, information officer of the municipality. "The decision has been passed by the municipal council," he informed. As per the decision, the municipality will declare Ghodaghodi wetland as a bird sanctuary within the current fiscal year. There are 360 species of birds in the wetland area of Ghodaghodi, which has 24 lakes, including the famous Ghodaghodi. Among them, 12 species of birds including Kale Tauke Hans (Common Pochard), Raj Dhanesh (Great Hornbill), Rajlahanche (Great Slaty Woodpecker), Bhudifor Garud (Lesser Adjutant), Sunaulo Top Chara (Finn’s Weaver), Gheghri Ghanse Fisto (Grey-breasted Prinia) and Laghu Mahachil (Indian Spotted Eagle) are rare in the world. Spread in over a total area of 10,570 hectares, the wetland is home to 64 species of water birds. The remaining 296 species of birds are terrestrial. Ghodaghodi wetland will be declared a bird sanctuary as a matter of identity and pride of the municipality, said DR Chaudhary, executive vice-chairman of the Greater Ghodaghodi Lake and Tourism Development Board. “The wetland, which is home to one of the rarest bird species in the world, will be declared a 'Bird Century' following the existing forest-related laws and regulations in the country,” he informed. "Bird sanctuary is a new issue for Nepal and there is no separate law in this regard," he said. Bird sanctuary will be declared based on the existing federal law on forests. Later on, it will be protected and managed by making a local act along with the federal, Chaudhary said. He said that the forest, wetland and watershed areas will be protected by giving priority to birds after becoming a bird sanctuary. “This is a matter of pride to promote conservation and tourism together,” Chaudhary said. “Bird Century will be a brand and will be advertised in the international market accordingly,” he said. The number of native as well as the number of migratory bird species is increasing in the Ghodaghodi wetland. Similarly, birds that do not find shelter elsewhere have been coming here. Ghodaghodi wetland is one of the four routes for Mongolian and Siberian birds in Nepal. Birds come here from their native countries to avoid winter and extreme heat. “Birds from Mongolia and Siberia need clean water, so if we make the wetland a little more organised and clean there will be more species of birds.” Similarly, Nadul Hans (Indian Spot-billed Duck), found in Kerala, India, has been breeding in Ghodaghodi since 2014. Ornithologists say that the Indian Spot-billed Duck, which used to be a guest bird from Kerala, is now a native bird. “Now this duck is a regular resident at the Ghodaghodi Lake area,” Chaudhary said. Meanwhile, conservationists have welcomed the decision of the local government to make Ghodaghodi wetland, a suitable destination for bird tourism, a bird sanctuary. This step of the local government is welcome, said Hirulal Dangaura, an ornithologist working on conservation in Ghodaghodi wetland. “This is a great message that the local government is taking the lead in what we are doing,” he said. “This move by the local government has increased the enthusiasm in bird conservation.” Dangaura expressed his belief that bird conservation would help in the conservation of forests, development of tourism as well as it will help income generation and livelihood of the locals. Tharu Homestay is also in operation in Maghi village of the same municipality intending to promote bird watching tourism in Ghodaghodi Wetland.