Habitat disturbance leads to bird disappearance


A motorboat being sailed in Jagadishpur Lake, Kapilvastu. Photo: TRN

By Janu Pandey, Kapilvastu, Nov. 21: Birds are facing threats in their habitats, specifically in the reservoirs constructed solely for their protection.

 Avian population is in crisis after a steamer was brought into operation in the Jagdishpur Lake (Bird Reservoir) in Kapilvastu Municipality-9 of Kapilvastu district.

The Jagadishpur Reservoir Management Multi-stakeholder Forum, dedicated to safeguarding the community and the lake, has been operating the steamer in the lake for a week. 

The steamer project covers an area of around five hectares of the lake in its western part. As the steamer approaches at high speed producing a loud sound, the birds inhabiting the lake fly in terror. 

"Jagdishpur is a small Ramsar Site, and it is unsuitable for steamer operation. The rowing of the steamer produces disruptive noise and waves, and the excited tourists shout. Motorboats and boats have encroached upon the bird habitat, leading to disturbance in the avian environment,” noted ornithologist Dr. Hemsagar Baral said. 

He expressed concern stating that such disturbance poses a risk of the Ramsar Site being included in the danger list.

Bijaya Raj Subedi, Chief of the Division Forest Office in Kapilvastu, informed that permission was granted for the operation of only foot-operated boats in the lake. Orders were specifically issued against the operation of steamers, as they were found to be in violation of the rules.

Dilip Chand, a bird conservationist, said, "In the small bush on the west side of the lake, a flock of geese could be observed playing."

Since the steamer commenced its operation, the birds have not been spotted up to about one kilometre to the east. A group of Great Cormorants was observed perched on the trees, waiting in the vicinity where steamers and boats traverse. Despite the apparent risk to the birds in the reserve, the concerned authorities have kept mum on the matter, Chand said.

Kapilvastu Municipality, entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding the lake, provided a grant of Rs. 500,000 to the Forum for the acquisition of a steamer. The steamer was procured at a cost of Rs. 1.35 million, with additional investments made by the Forum.

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