Green activists raise concern over human intrusion

Indo Asian News Service

Agra, Feb 2 (IANS) Green activists in the Taj city on Saturday expressed concern over increasing encroachment in the eco-sensitive wetlands, home to thousands of migratory birds, in the Agra region.

On the occasion of World Wetlands Day, environmentalists urged the state government to take preventive measures to stop inroads by humans in the natural habitats of birds, reptiles and amphibians that depended on the wetlands.

Devashish Bhattacharya, a passionate bird watcher, told IANS: "The Soor Sarovar reserve forest bordering the wetland, was a Ramsar recognised site and home to a wide variety of migratory birds. But unfortunately in recent years, encroachment and intrusion by human in the green buffer has been causing a lot of disturbance. In fact there have been alarming reports of bird poaching in the area."

Green activist Shravan Kumar Singh said: "Soor Sarovar was one of the biggest lakes in Uttar Pradesh and attracted large number of migratory birds. The area was also a favourite site of pythons and snakes. However, unauthorised structures in the area and increasing human activities were causing panic and scaring away wild life."

On the occasion of World Wetlands Day, the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department organised a series of activities for students, including bird watching, photo exhibition and painting contest at the Soor Sarovar wetlands. Similar events were organised at Kolilavan lake in Kosi and Shankarghat in Firozabad.

World Wetland Day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar.

This year's theme is 'Wetlands and Climate Change', highlighting the critical role wetlands play in storing carbon and reducing the impact of extreme weather events associated with climate change.

Soor Sarovar is home to more than 165 species of migratory and resident birds and the students were thrilled to identify over 40 species of birds like pelicans, lesser flamingos, spoonbills, painted storks, Asian pied starlings, cormorants, kingfishers, Indian rollers, white ibis and pond herons.

Kartick Satyanarayan of Wildlife SoS said: "Human beings and nature share an unbreakable bond and damage to one will undeniably have its repercussions for the other. The younger generations can play a pivotal role in making a difference in preserving and protecting our natural heritage and to live with acceptance of the wildlife that surrounds us."