Reducing Population Of Harrier Birds
- Harrier birds, a migratory raptor species that regularly visits vast swathes of India, are declining.
- Every winter, several species of harrier birds travel thousands of kilometres to escape frigid Central Asia for the grasslands of the subcontinent
- At least five species of harriers were recorded in India over the years; India has one of the largest roosting sites in the world for Pallid Harriers and Montagu’s Harriers.
- most dramatic changes at the Rollapadu Bustard Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district, one of the largest. In the mid-1990s, an estimated 1,000 birds roosted here. By 2016, the number was down to less than 100 birds. In Hessarghatta on the outskirts of Bengaluru, Western Marsh Harriers declined significantly, leaving the area
- The study notes that the population of the species in Central Asia has not seen any drastic changes.
- So, do these results indicate that the migrant birds have found better places to roost than India
- These are traditional roosting sites for harrier species.
- The gravest concern is the loss of grasslands, either to urbanisation or to agriculture. In February-March, peak season for the arrival of the birds, farmlands are burnt or over-grazed.
- Of the 15 roosting sites surveyed, eight no longer exist as grasslands, and only five are protected.
- Excessive use of pesticides in farms in and around the roosting sites could also be a reason for the lowered population counts.
- In crops such as cotton, the use of pesticides kills grasshoppers, the harriers’ primary prey, and could lead to mortality of the birds themselves as they are on the top of the food chain
- Globally, of the 16 harrier species, only two are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, even though most of them are declining.
- the conservation of India’s grasslands could be a start in protecting the magnificent migrators