Forest Department officials claim to have spotted 49 black-necked storks in and around Khijadia Bird Sanctuary roughly 12km from Jamnagar in the recent statewide water birds’ census.
It is a significant increase from merely six storks (including two chicks) spotted in 2002 of the 49 black-necked storks, seven were chicks, officials said.
Black-Necked storks are classified as “near threatened” in India.
“In the last decade, rare birds like black-necked storks have preferred the environs of Khijadia for breeding and their numbers have increased significantly” said R.D. Kamboj, Chief Conservator of Forests, Marine National Park, Jamnagar.
Kamboj said the birds’ population estimation in and around Khijadia was carried out in the last week of January 2012, when many winter visiting birds were expected
The number of birds as well the species has increased in Khijadia over the last four years.
“During the estimation exercise, a total of 87,681 birds of 185 species were recorded at the sanctuary in the 2008 census, 41,437birds belonging to 119 species were recorded,” Kamboj said.
However, Jaypalsinh Jadeja, an avid bird watcher and ornithologist, said that the population of black-necked storks is not limited to just Khijadia or the area surrounding it but are spread over an area stretching up to Dwarka, which is roughly 150 km from Jamnagar.
“It is a magnificent bird to watch and you will definitely find at least four to five black- necked storks at Khijadiya within one km range,” said Jadeja.
Khijadia Bird Sanctuary is a wetland area located on the southern coast of the Gulf of Kutch in semi-arid region of Jamnagar district. It encompasses freshwater lakes as well as brackish/marine wetland at a place. This complex of wet lands strategically falls on Indo-Asian flyway of migratory birds welcoming the birds coming from Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and their neighboring areas.
“The sanctuary also has birds like painted storks, darters, lesser flamingoes and Indian skimmers among others. The sanctuary has been proposed recently for inclusion as the wetland of international importance, a Ramsar site”, kamboj said.