Mrunal Manmay Dash

Khurda: “Raha raha khyane baspiya shakata dekhibi Chilika charu chitra pata,” these lines by Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das were inspired by the serene beauty of Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon which amplifies many folds by the foreign migratory birds every winter.

And with the onset of wintry weather in this part of the country, exotic winged guests of different species, mainly from Russia have started to flock Chilika creating ample opportunity for the bird lovers to soak in their beauty.

Despite adverse climatic conditions caused by multiple cyclones, a variety of feathered creatures, mainly Northern Shovelers, Gadwalls & Northern Pintails reportedly came this year to Chilika in large numbers. Latecomers like Flamingos have already been witnessed in Nuapada, Gurubai, Anlakuda and Satapada areas of Chilika, though in small numbers.

While the migration of these exotic birds helped adding shine to Chilika’s already rich ecosystem, overcrowding by the tourists and the fear of poaching of these birds have raised concerns of their safety in bird watchers and Ornithologists.

Akshay Kumar Jena, a bird lover said, “Only forest department can’t provide full protection from the poachers. The locals should be roped in to save these birds from poachers.”

Chaturbhuja Dalei, a resident of Anlakuda said, “We don’t find any security in place to safeguard these birds. This has created resentment among locals.”

“We have set up 20 camps to provide security to these birds and our men are regularly patrolling the lake,” said Gangadhar Sahu, Ranger of Chilika Nuapada forest range.