As Climatic Patterns Change, Migratory Birds Have Stopped Coming To Pakistan

Welcome no more: Siberian migratory birds which made their way to Sindh every winter season, have largely stopped coming due to various reasons.

As Pakistan’s climatic patterns took drastic turns, the number of migratory birds coming from Siberia particularly has dramatically declined in the past three decades. According to a survey conducted during this season, around 150,000 Siberian birds, including migratory waterfowl, were expected to land in the country this season, which is 70% less than last year (winter 2017-18).

The said migratory birds arrive in Pakistan at the end of August and leave by February. They are completely gone by the month of March. When the temperate in Siberia falls below -30 degrees Celsius, they migrate to warmer areas. Their route is referred to as ‘Flyway Four’ or the ‘Green Route’ in Pakistan. The birds flyover Siberia, over Afghanistan and into Pakistan, where they track the Indus River on the way to Sindh.

Rasheed Ahmed Khan, Sindh Wildlife Game Officer, informed that Pakistan has 19 sites where these birds land. Among those 19, 10 are in Sindh. These migratory birds temporarily stop in Thatta, Rann of Kutch and Thar coastal areas. They spread later to other lakes. Some of them stay at three Thattha lakes, Haleji, Keenjhar and Hadbero. These birds primarily stay lower and upper Sindh.

About 64 different species of local and migratory birds have been identified across the country. The total number of birds in the census stood at 153,916. As per the surveys and expert’s opinion, the reasons for the decline are both natural and human interventions.

Reasons For The Decline In Population Of Migratory Birds:

The experts recognise the reasons for such a significant yet alarming decline as follows:

  • With human invention, the causes are natural as well. According to Moazzam Khan, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Technical advisor, expressed that the lesser rainfall leading to dried up water passages and the changing of the location into agricultural land are the prime reasons for the decline in migratory birds. He added that the shortage in the canal system and declining rainfall with the release of pollutants has poisoned the lakes in Sindh, so birds opt for safer lakes in neighbouring countries.
  • Speaking about human factors, Moazzam said that several water bodies have been occupied to build residential homes. Adding to the trouble for these birds, netting and hunting has further worsened the situation. As revealed by a local news source, a hunter revealed that a number of migratory birds used to fly to Sindh during 1984, but now the number has shrunk to only 30% of the past.“The wars going on for 40 years have affected the route of the migratory birds which used to travel towards Pakistan.”– he added. 

    For the conservation of birds and making the environment favourable for them, concrete steps need to be taken.

    Originally published in Express Tribune

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