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Biodiversity hope nests on Jubilee island
- Abundant fish stocks draw common teal to Jayanti Sarovar after several years

Jamshedpur, Sept. 8: Population of the picturesque Jayanti Sarovar is swelling. Fruit bats and turtles are no longer its only occupants. They now have teals for company.

Over 50 nests of the common teal (Anas crecca) — a member of the duck family — have been spotted on this Jubilee Park lake island by officials of Tata Steel Zoological Park. “We believe that the birds are not just roosting here, but also nesting,” confirmed zoo director Bipul Chakravarty.

Several years ago, Jayanti Sarovar was home to the common teal, but the birds bade adieu for reasons unknown. “The exact reason behind their abandoning the island cannot be ascertained, but something — pollution or encroachment on habitat — must have disturbed them,” said K.K. Sharma, head of zoology, Jamshedpur Co-operative College.

Sharma, conducting a research on fruit bats, had visited the island recently. “I spotted a fair number of teal nests. The birds have arrived from areas surrounding the steel city. Maybe, from areas close to Dimna Lake, where noise pollution is a bane,” he pointed out, confirming local migration. Generally, common teals migrate only in winters.

The professor said availability of food in adequate quantities could be one reason that brought the teals to the island. “The birds find sufficient stock of insects and fish in the lake,” he added.

Besides teals, soft-shell turtles are also residents of the island. Snakes too are abundant amidst the thick vegetation.

On fruit bats, Sharma said they were yet to complete the flight pattern of birds. “But, of late, we observed that some bats had left the island and made trees surrounding the lake their new home. “This is interesting. Bats, generally, travel long distances to find new abodes. Their recent behavioural pattern, involving short-distance migration, is surprising.”

He observed that fruit bats were slowly and steadily moving away from the steel city. According to a preliminary survey, their new destination is a hilly terrain near Ghatshila. “In fact, Jayanti Sarovar’s bat population has decreased from 10,000 three years ago to less than 3,000,” said Sharma, who is working on a conservation plan in tandem with Tata zoo.

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