It’s summer time now, and the calls of the Asian Koel to find a mate, can be heard through the day. It is breeding season for many birds. A visit to the mangroves and wetlands of Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, reveals a variety of birds in breeding plumage – Indian Pond Heron, Cattle Egret, Great Egret. The Clamorous Reed Warbler is given away by his territorial singing. Even elusive birds like the Striated Heron, Yellow Bittern and Cinnamon Bittern get active in summer and can be more easily spotted.
Recently my friend spotted four Woolly Necked Storks together at Sector 25, Kharghar wetlands. This a ‘Vulnerable’ species on the IUCN list. In the same place I spotted around fifty Lesser Whistling Ducks that visit only in May-June every year. They could be breeding in the reeds. There are also some migratory birds like the Brown Headed Gulls, Whiskered Terns, Pacific Golden Plovers, Lesser Sand Plovers who will leave to the colder temperate areas of the Arctic, Europe and North-Central Asia soon. And in a few months, other migratory birds will arrive. The yearly cycle will continue.
It is a good sign, that our wetlands are full of birds in all seasons, providing a safe habitat for birds to breed, nest and raise their chicks. This will continue to happen only if there is no destruction of the wetlands and mangroves, which are in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) area and protected by law.
Kharghar is unique city having all kinds of habitat. It has grasslands, forests, hills, fresh water ponds on one side and mangroves, intertidal zone and marshy wetlands on the other side.Jyoti Nadkarni, activist and resident of Kharghar
The biodiversity of Kharghar is constantly under threat. Illegal activities in the area are destroying the natural habitats of the animal life in the ecosystems. And we humans are solely responsible.
Wetlands of Kharghar – Fighting for survival
Threats to the coastal wetlands and mangroves: Illegal prawn farming in the CRZ area, reclamation of wetlands, constant dumping of construction debris
Threats to the freshwater wetlands: diversion of streams, concretisation of streams, water withdrawal by tankers
Threats to the grasslands (empty lands in between urban sectors): burning of grass, dumping of construction debris, turning it into a cricket ground, proposed infrastructural complexes like BKC 2
Threats to the hills: illegal quarrying, burning of hill slopes by miscreants, cutting of forest trees by villagers, hunting of birds and animals by the villagers
Here are some images related to the threats to the ecosystems at Kharghar.
We do not want Kharghar to be an ecological disaster. We do not want the wetlands, mangroves, grasslands and hills to be mercilessly destroyed. The laws that are in place are only on paper. Authorities are blinded to the illegal activities. Blinded by what? We do not know. What we do know is that we, the citizens of Kharghar, will fight to save what we still have.
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