Huge fatalities of migratory birds in Rajasthan wetlands have put officials of Kashmir wildlife on alert as all migratory birds coming to India follow the same flyway.
Speaking exclusively to IANS, Rashid Naqash, wildlife warden (Kashmir) said: "All migratory birds that come to Kashmir and to other wetlands in India follow the central Asian flyway zone. Naturally, birds coming to Kashmir and Rajasthan, use this flyway zone and their places of migration initiation are also common."
Deaths of 10,000 migratory birds reported in wetlands of Rajasthan have obviously put Kashmir Valley authorities on alert.
"Even though the final report of the investigation into the deaths of migratory birds in Rajasthan is yet to come, we have been observing the behaviour of the migratory birds in our wetland reserves very closely.
"Assisting the wardens and watchers we have veterinarian who keep an eye on the health and general behaviour of birds who come to visit us during the winter months from Russia, siberia, central Asia, northern China and northern Europe.
"So far, we have not discovered any unhealthy behaviour or mortality in the different species of these avian visitors in the Valley," the warden said.
He said the finding into the migratory birds tragedy would be studied and remedial measures, if needed, will be taken to protect the migratory birds in the Valley.
He said there is a belief among bird watchers that contaminated water in the Rajsthan wetlands could have caused those fatalities.
Bird flu is a major reason for epidemic among migratory birds, but there are no reports of the disease among the avian visitors in the Valley this time, the wildlife warden asserted.
"Flight frequency and the general behaviour among the migratory birds here indicate that they are free of any disease."
"So far, we have received 200,000 birds of different species in our wetland reserves. The number usually goes as high as 500,000 to 600,000 as winter starts reaching its peak in the Valley," warden said.
Kashmir has been host to these visitors, since time immemorial. Wetland reserves of Hokarsar, Shallabugh, Mirgund and Hygam are fully protected by wildlife authorities and bird shooting is a criminal offence under the local laws.
Migratory birds also throng Wullar Lake, Dal lake and scores of other water bodies during the winter months as they leave their summer homes to spend winter in comparatively less harsh climate of the valley.
Each year greylag geese, mallarts, teals, pintails, shovelers, wigeons, brahmani ducks, tuffed ducks and pochards come to Kashmir during winter months.
In addition to migratory birds, those spend the entire winter in the Valley, are some birds of passage like the cormorants and sandhill cranes who spend some days during winter and summer months in the course of their migration to and from the Indian plains.