Panaji: While many bird species may have been listed in the threatened category due to their global population dynamics and other parameters of endangerment, Goa’s rich avifauna often boasts of good populations of these species in its habitats.
“Most of these threatened bird species can be found in good numbers in Goa,” said Pronoy Baidya, vice president, Goa Bird Conservation Network (GBCN). Intensive bird surveys, especially in wildlife sanctuaries and well frequented wetlands by state birders in the past five years, have helped gather a wealth of data on birds. “While analyzing this data, we realized that we have two species of critically endangered, eight species of Vulnerable and 11 species of near threatened birds,” said Baidya.
The worldwide conservation status listing system puts the avifauna, among others, in categories of critically endangered (CE), vulnerable (VU) and near threatened. Goan birders consider themselves lucky to be able to sight many of these birds singled out for protection.
Lesser adjutant, the long-legged stork and Nilgiri wood-pigeon with the checkerboard nape have been classified vulnerable by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a global organization pursuing conservation work. “Carambolim, its extension Dhado, Dr Salim Ali bird sanctuary, Neura wetland and St Cruz have a good population of these storks,” said Baidya.
The bird census in Chorao in 2012-13 caused a pleasant surprise, as a big roost of Lesser Adjutants was a first indication of their healthy population. The pigeons, vulnerable, have been sighted in encouraging numbers in Aldona and Sirigao in North Goa and Velsao, behind Verna industrial estate, and Neturlim wildlife sanctuary in South Goa.
The white-backed vulture and long-billed vulture were common in Goa, as in elsewhere in the country. But they are now listed as critically-endangered, and sightings have become extremely rare. “A white-backed vulture was seen in Mandrem in March 2015, and the long-billed in October 2016 in Dudhsagar,” a birder said.
Various factors are responsible for the dwindling bird population. “In case of vultures, it has been the veterinary drug, diclofenac, but the major cause in most cases is loss of habitat,” Parag Rangnekar, president, GBCN, said.
A few wetlands have been partitioned or shrinking due to development of highways and other activities. Felling of trees affects nesting sites while rapid urbanization eats into their foraging ground.
Systematic data collection has helped the inclusion of three new Important Bird and Biodiversity areas (IBAs) in Navelim, Bicholim, and the wild life sanctuaries of Bondla and Neturlim. But the lack of an organized system in the past delayed the process due to lack of data.
GBCN now has more than 100 registered members and hundreds of volunteers. The network facilitates sharing of images, videos, audio recordings of birds, and checklists of exploratory bird trips.
“Gathering of systematic data on Goa’s other wetlands will also help conserve and protect them,” Mandar Bhagat, a senior birder, said.(TOI)