Vikash Sharma

The sand bed of the Mahanadi river at Kakhadi in Athagarh has now become a safe breeding site for the endangered Indian Skimmer known as 'Panichiri' in local parlance. Already 35 eggs of the rare species of birds have been hatched and forest officials are leaving no stones unturned for their safe hatching and protection.

As per forest department officials, the rare Indian Skimmer birds turn up every year for mass nesting and laying eggs under the Khuntuni range. This time around, at least 165 Indian Skimmer birds have shown up and are currently laying eggs, reports said.

The Indian Skimmer is only found in India, Pakistan, and Myanmar, informed Dr. Biswal Chichilichi, ACF, Athagarh forest division. These birds are found especially on low-land rivers, lakes, and marshes as well as coasts and estuaries. This apart, the Indian Skimmer is also found in the Chambal area in Madhya Pradesh and in Mahanadi tributaries including Satkosia, Mundali, and Khuntuni forest ranges which are now their breeding sites.

"The Indian Skimmers have chosen Mundali and Kakhadi areas along the Mahandi river bed as their breeding site. We are putting stress on their protection. So far there are 165 birds here and the laying of eggs process is underway," said Biswal.

The senior official said that round-the-clock surveillance is being kept and residents have also been engaged. The awareness drive was also taken up with local fishermen who have been restricted from visiting the designated areas along with fishing in the area.