Habitat loss causes sharp decline of birds in Koshitappu


BELBARI, MORANG: Increasing pollution and haphazard use of pesticides in crops have contributed to a declining number of birds in the Koshitappu Wildlife Reserve (KWR) and vicinity. Human activities have caused the loss of birds’ habitats. The Mid-Winter Water Birds Census, 2024 has recorded the number of birds at 5,527 from 53 species. The number last year was 7,573 from 56 species. Although new species of birds arrive every year in Nepal, both the number and species declined this year, said Birendra Gautam, Chief of Koshi Conservation Office, National Nature Conservation Trust.

The result of the bird census conducted for five days since January 10 was made public on World Wetland Day. Most of the birds are of duck species- 848. The birds dependent on water are facing a shortage of wetlands, which have deprived them of habitat, Gautam added. Gautam further claimed, “Severe decline in number of birds is directly related to expanding human settlement and unwarranted activities.”

The marshlands are now turned into motorable roads. It is a grave threat to the birds. The marshland used to welcome the birds even from Siberia, Russia. As human activities were contained in the wake of COVID-19, the census had witnessed a huge rise in avian presence. There were 9,289 birds in 2019. Nepal witnesses the arrival of birds from mid-September to mid-December every year.

The KWR located at the tri-junction of Sunsari, Saptari and Udayapur districts is a birds’ hub. Some 50 species of migratory birds leave for India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka via Nepal. The avian migration makes transit to various other areas such as Chitwan National Park, Bishajari Lake, Jagdishpur Lake, Ghodaghodi Lake, Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve and tributaries of the Koshi and Gandaki Rivers. Thousands of winter birds arrive in Nepal from southern countries, including Africa for hatching. The winter birds, however, find habitats in forests and nearby grasslands.