Today when I visited the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, a few kilometres from my home in Gurgaon after eight years I was disappointed with what I saw! Instead of a wetland with lots of birds, all I could see was barren land, and instead of a lake, there was a dry lake-bed. Instead of a large number of seasonal and migratory birds, there were just a few birds. There were a few puddles of muddy water in which a few catfish were desperately swimming in the mulch!
(Incidentally this used to be a lake-bed with water all around with lots of birds!)
Incidentally, this little puddle of murky and muddy water was full of a species of catfish swimming around in desperation, in a pool of water which was apparently shrinking day by day! I had already seen the submersible pumps lying idle, apparently the ground water has fallen so low that the pumps used to replenish the lake have become ineffective in drawing up water!
In spite of the rather dried up Lake-bed, however, there was a little stretch of water which seemed to be home to some birds!
Besides some cranes, and indigenous birds, I was able to see some bucks also called as Neel Gai in Hindi.
While the migratory birds might have left because of a lack of sufficient water, some of the indigenous species endemic to the environment seem to have retained a tenacious hold in the area like the chameleon in the snap below and the Kingfisher bird!
On my visit to the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, I could see a large number of cattle grazing on the sparse grass, it seem as though they were competing for the already sparse resources in the National Park. Today, it seems that the dismal condition of the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary is the result of competition for space between man and wildlife. The lack of water in the lake could be the result of lack of proper rains, development of housing societies resulting in the blocking of rainwater channels feeding the lake, or perhaps, the depletion of ground water reserves as a result of the large number of tube-wells, and submersible pumps being used to supply water for construction purposes. The lack of ground water would lead to a failure of the underwater pumps in pumping water to replenish the surface water of the wet land! Many years ago, I remember seeing a fairly deep lake with ample greenery and a rich flora and fauna. Today, however, it seems as if development has taken its toll. The sufferers, ultimately are the migratory birds that come from as far away as Siberia in Russia!
I guess, unless the Government and Conservation societies take steps to conserve this National forest, the migratory birds and the exotic species that used to populate this place will soon become things of the past!
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