Hovercrafts in Loktak a threat to birds: Experts

Imphal: Imported hovercrafts, which were deployed in the Loktak lake here to flush out militants, are now frightening off migratory birds and making the fragile ecosystem of the area inhospitable for the winged guests.

The presence of 3 hovercrafts – vehicles that can be driven both over water and land – which were procured from the US a year ago are scaring away the birds from the biggest freshwater lake in the northeast say ornithologists and environmentalists.

According to a latest study by the Imphal-based Centre for Conservation of Nature and Cultivation of Science, the diversity and population of birds have reduced drastically.

Ornithologist R K Birjit Singh, who led the research, told PTI that noise pollution is the biggest drawback of the hovercrafts.

"Any sound above 85 decibel has the potential to harm not only the habitat of water birds but also to the anatomy and physiology of the birds. But these hovercrafts are producing noise at the rate of 104 decibel to 120 decibel like jet engines," he says.

Each winter, thousands of birds from the northern hemisphere migrate to the picturesque freshwater Loktak lake, spread across 286 sq km area across the three valley districts of Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishnupur.

Facing ecological challenges, the wetland is designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.