Jaipur: The name Rajasthan, denoting the “The Abode of the Rajas” was formerly called Rajputana, meaning “The country of the Rajputs”. It is the largest Indian state by area. The capital city of Jaipur, more commonly known as the Pink City, is located in the east-central part of the state.
The state has numerous sanctuaries and wild life parks thriving with flora and fauna. Among the most important of these are the Sariska National Park, Desert National Park and the Keoladeo Ghana National Park.
Keoladeo Ghana National Park is popularly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. It was initially a royal hunting reserve for the Maharajas and the British. Keoladeo was declared as a national park and then later listed as a
World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985. Renowned Ornithologist and Naturalist Dr. Salim Ali used his influence for government support to create the place into a National Park.
A visit to the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is an electrifying experience. As one gets close to the sanctuary, one can hear the calls of the birds.
The whole atmosphere has a tantalizing effect on the soul. At the entrance itself, one can see a number of rickshaw pullers. And then then are cycles available if one wishes to ride to see the sanctuary. There are guides to help you see the splendid creations of God with their scopes.
The rickshaw pullers are so well versed with the birds and the sanctuary that they can easily tell which bird can be seen perched on which tree at what time of the day.
Birders throng the place as more than 400 species of birds are found here. It is home to numerous indigenous water birds as well as migratory birds.
It is the largest bird sanctuary in Asia. The Keoladeo National Park (KNP) sits on the north-south avian migration route. It is considered one of the best water bird sanctuaries in the world and is also home to the rare Siberian crane.
Starting from the month of March till September is the nesting and breeding time of the birds. This is the time when the birds can be seen making their nests and one can enjoy the behavior of courting birds.
They perform several acts to attract their mate like singing, display of dance moves, food delivery and mutual preening.
The nesting season can be several weeks long as birds claim territory, attract a mate and raise one or more broods of chicks. The breeding season is one of the most popular times for birding.
While birds are defending territories and attracting mates, they are colorful and visible for birders to see. It is also time for migratory birds to pass through the area.
The numerous counts of the bird species are the major attraction for the birders to visit the place. Some of the species fly from distant places like Siberia and Central Asia specifically in winters.
The migratory birds at Bharatpur bird Sanctuary include several species of cranes, pelican, geese, ducks, eagles, hawks, shanks, stints, wagtails, warblers, wheatears, flycatchers, buntings, larks and pipits. Among the local birds are openbill stork, cormorant, snake bird, egret, cattle egret, large egret, painted stork, grey heron, purple heron, spoonbill.
Rickshaw Pullers, guides and hotels make brisk business because of a large number of tourists. Ample rains ensure that migratory birds visit in large numbers. High turnout of tourists has been seen when the monsoon was good.
When there was scarcity of rains, the authorities got the water released from Panchna dam. The sanctuary is the lifeline for the state of Rajasthan. Abundance of water helps sustain the flora and fauna of the place. Anlivelihood for many connected to the sanctuary.
Contributed by Environmentalist, Simarjeet Chadha