Chatlam Conservation Reserve

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Chatlam Conservation Reserve

Sajad-ul- Akbar Wani1, Shehla Ishaque and Khursheed Ahmad,A Study of Chatlam Conservation Reserve "Daily Excelsior" 29/11/2015

Chatlam Conservation Reserve

The present study was carried out during 2012-2015 to assess the current status, distribution and conservation issues of water birds in Chatlam-Fushkoori Wetland Conservation Reserve and associated wetlands of Pampore, Srinagar, Kashmir. The regular surveys were carried out following the point count method in the wetland in different time periods of the day in all the four seasons. Prior to September 2014 floods, overall 56 species of birds belonging to 15 families including 14 species of migratory waterfowl were recorded. This was compared to a record number of 90 different species of birds belonging to 30 families including 20 species of migratory waterfowl that were observed in the pampore wetlands especially in Chatlam-Fushkoori wetland Conservation Reserve during 2015 winter.

The most dominant waterfowl families recorded during the study period in the peak winter time was Anatidae followed by Ardeidae and Rallidae.The population of waterfowl which start their arrival usually in mid November from Siberia and Central Asia to Kashmir Valley peaks to around more than 30,000-50,000 in pampore Wetlands during the last week of February and starts declining as the temperature in the valley rises before their return migration during early spring (late March). The wetlands of Pampore are under various anthropogenic pressures owing to fishing, encroachments of land for saffron cultivation,seting up of Poultry Farms cattle rearing and human disturbance with incessant waste disposal by locals into the wetland of Chatlam-Fushkoori CR. There is a serious problem with the breeding behavior of migratory birds at Chatlam-Fushkoori CR as their peak period of breeding activity coincides with the peak time period of catching fishes by local people. Besides, cattle rearing and other agricultural activities nearby saffron fields by locals too coincides with the time period of breeding , thus creating disturbances to birds to a great extent.

These activities were seen least in winter months when Icy period (Chillaikalan) hit the Kashmir Valley. Although,in 2014 an unusual breeding of 01 pair of Gray Lag Goose was also recorded in Fushkoori Wetland CR in April-May months which needs to be ascertained further . Also, sighting of 07 individuals of Great Crested Grebe which has never before been reported visiting Kashmir wetlands was for the first time sighted in Chatlam Wetland on first week of February 2015 as a passage migrant and stayed here for two weeks.

In Chatlam wetland we observed breeding of many water-birds like Mallards, Common Poachards, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Pheasant tailed jacana, Common Coot, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe, Indian Pond Heron, Grey Heron and so on. However, this year for the first time we observed overstaying of Gray Lag Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Ferrogineous Poachard,Tufted Duck, Garganey, Northern Pintail, Common Teal, Eurasian Wigeon and a single Common Shelduck in Chatlam Conservation Reserve. During continued and regular monitoring of the species, we could record this year for the first time the unusual breeding of Gadwall and Northern Shoveler within Indian Limits at Chatlam-Manibugh Wetland. This is the first breeding record of Gadwall and Northern Shoveler in the Indian Subcontinent which needs further extensive research. Keeping in view the above mentioned research work, Chatlam-Fushkoori Conservation Reserve assumes a great ecological and biodiversity significance in the Indian sub-continent and long term conservation planning of the wetland is imperative.

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