By Sujit Chakraborty
Guwahati, Jan 18 (IANS): The percentage of water birds at the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNP & TR) in Assam declined by 28.61 per cent in one year, officials said on Tuesday.
KNP & TR Director Karmashree P. Sivakumar told IANS that the decrease in the number of water birds was due to accumulation of water hyacinth in Rowmari wetland under the Laokhowa wildlife sanctuary.
According to the fourth wetland bird estimation in KNP & TR, results of which were announced late on Tuesday evening, the number of water birds reduced to 66,776 in 2021-22 from 93,543 in 2020-21.
According to the officials of the park, as per the previous studies, the number of water birds was 34,284 in 2019-20 and 10,412 in 2018-19.
The officials said that 66,776 water birds of 126 species were enumerated in the latest study using the point count method.
Out of this, 42,205 birds were counted in Eastern Assam WildLife Division and Biswanath Wildlife Division areas, while 24,571 birds were counted in Laokhowa and Burachapori Wildlife Sanctuaries.
The birds were counted at 211 different points in 157 water bodies involving 35 enumeration teams, including volunteers from local educational institutes, NGOs along with officials and frontline staff of forest department.
Among the birds, Bar-headed Goose topped the list with 16,552, followed by Northern Pintail at 9,493 and Common Teal at 5,631.
Ferruginous Duck, an important species with 2,236 numbers may be regarded as a highlight of the latest bird estimation, an official said.
According to Sivakumar, the KNP & TR, one of India's seven UNESCO world heritage sites, is not just about one-horned rhinos, Royal Bengal tigers and Asian elephants, it is also home to thousands of birds of over 125 species.
The national park is situated in Golaghat, Nagaon, Sonitpur, Biswanath and Karbi Anglong districts, mostly in central Assam.
The KNP & TR, which is also home to wild buffalos and many more animal species, is a popular tourist hotspot for visitors from around the world.
Last year, the Assam government had extended the area of the national park besides taking a series of measures for the protection of environment, flora and fauna and animals from poachers and annual floods.