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Count begins for Chilika guests

Bhubaneswar/Balasore, Jan. 5: A census of migratory birds at Chilika lake began today.

Around 100 persons, including research scholars and bird lovers of the state, are taking part in the two-day exercise at Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon.

The enumerators were divided into 20 groups and were imparted training on census methodology at Wetland Research Centre in Chandraput on the bank of the Chilika lake. They will be sent to their respective positions to start the counting of birds from tomorrow.

The census includes two techniques — total count and sample count. The total count method is used primarily to count the exact number. A sample count is done when there is an exceptionally high congregation of birds and the enumerator fails to find the exact number.

Last year, more than eight lakh migratory birds of over 100 species had flown to the lake, which is spread over 1,100sqkm. Chilika has been designated as a Ramsar site (Wetland of International Importance).

Forest officials will also conduct a census of dolphins in the lake on January 7 and 8. “On January 7, the enumerators will take part in a training that will be followed by a census the next day,” said senior wildlife research officer C.S. Kar.The last census found that the number of Irrawaddy dolphins had declined by 11. The census had revealed presence of 145 dolphins, which included 75 dolphins in the outer channel, 41 in the southern sector and 29 in the central sector of the lake.

A two-day exercise for the census of birds in Mayurbhanj district also began today. Teams have been formed for three territorial ranges — Baripada, Karanjia and Rairangpur — which will be headed by the respective divisional forest officers.

Two teams have been formed for each forest range that would be recording the species and their numbers found in different locations. Two professors of North Odisha University and three research scholars will assist the forest officials.

“During the census, we identify the species and record their numbers to make comparison with preceding years. After analysing the preliminary report, a final report will be sent to the state forest department,” said regional chief conservator of forests Anup Kumar Nayak.