World Migratory Bird Day is being observed today, the main focus will be on ‘Artificial Light Pollution’ in consonance with the theme chosen for this year. This theme has been aptly selected as artificial light is increasing globally by at least 2 percent per year and it is known to adversely affect many bird species. Light pollution is a significant threat to migratory birds, causing disorientation when they fly at night, leading to collisions with buildings, perturbing their internal clocks, or interfering with their ability to undertake long-distance migrations. However, the theme chosen for last year i.e. ‘Birds Connect Our World’ will continue to be relevant in all times to come. The aim behind observing the day is to raise awareness about conservation and ecological importance of migratory birds in the global ecosystem. Therefore this year’s theme is focussed on highlighting the importance of conservation and restoration of ecological connectivity and integrity of ecosystems that support the movement of these birds. The celebration of this day dedicated to the migratory birds assumes greater significance for the erstwhile J&K State that now stands bifurcated into Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir the reason being that these newly formed Union Territories continue to serve as abodes for a variety of migratory aves species including Brahminy Duck, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Garganey, Graylag, Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, Northern Pintail, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, and Eurasian Wigeon which are some of the most sighted birds in the wetlands of these two northernmost Union Territories of the world’s largest democracy, after these migrate from Central Asia and Europe during the winter months. These UTs are already blessed with nature’s bounty and experience much more vibrance with these migratory birds making the season as well as the environs colourful and lively. However given the carelessness on the part of various stakeholders be it the concerned agencies or the people at large as of today these winged visitors might be forced to look for alternate winter homes in the near future due to increasing encroachments, waste disposal and noise pollution having reached alarming levels in the wetlands across the region. About ten lakh migratory birds leave for their summer sojourn across continents after having lived winter months in the wetlands of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to escape harsh cold weather back home. These wetlands undoubtedly form one of the most significant ecosystems supporting equally important biodiversity in the region and it becomes our foremost duty to ensure the preservation of such ecosystems at all costs. Wetlands are essential for maintaining bio-diversity, water harvesting and water availability. Today it needs to be realized that birds connect to all of these habitats, and they connect us and the places where we live, to people and places around the globe. However, migratory birds are still under threat on account of loss of habitat, climate change, poisoning, power lines, and illegal killing in recent years. Moreover as reflected in this year’s theme the artificial lights across the globe is a matter of grave concern for the normal behavior of birds and can prove fatal for them. Therefore we need to step up our actions across the world to better protect migratory birds against the artificial lights and also protect their habitats which they need to survive and thrive. It is high time for all the stakeholders to further initiate dedicated efforts to restore the pristine glory of all the ecosystems besides addressing the issue of threat to birds’ survival due to artificial lights so that migratory birds continue to throng the seasonal destinations across the globe in general and particularly in the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
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