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Binu Alex

The earth does not belong to us; we belong to the earth. This we know.

Migratory birds traveling thousands of miles all the way from Siberia, and such other faraway places, arrive at Nalsarovar, around 40 kms from my home on Ahmedabad’s outskirts. The Nalsarovar Lake in Gujarat is probably the country’s largest water bird sanctuary, also identified as one of its 15 important wetlands.

Flamingos, Siberian cranes, pelicans, white storks and dozens of other birds crowd the spectacular natural lake’s shallow, knee deep waters and muddy lagoons dotted by islets, some 360 or so.

Typically, migratory birds start arriving around October, and start leaving the area during the dry spell between March-April. Then there are those flocking the place during and after the monsoons, and many permanent residents and local migratory birds. The sheer number of birds that a bird watcher encounters at this beautiful place leaves him/her spellbound.

Nalsarovar is said to be an ideal mix of the sea’s salty water and fresh waters from nearby rivers, which serve as an ideal breeding ground for a lot of fish that feed the birds traveling tiring lengths from Central Asia, Europe and Siberia to escape the harsh winters there.

Now, it would be natural to expect humans to keep their distance from this beautiful place. But first they have to be there to watch the birds. Secondly, they have to try and save it from all the plastic and rubbish that they themselves throw around the lake sanctuary.

Recently, the tourism department of Gujarat decided to intervene after finding the water level had fallen below the usual. So it diverted the nearby river waters, no matter how polluted it may have been, to fill the gap. This may have also played with the delicate balance of fresh and salt waters.

The result was there to see. A considerable fall in the number of visiting birds was being reported as both the quality and quantity of water had apparently changed. What was once knee deep water had become waist high, causing trouble for the birds to stand and pick their prey. And it’s not a loss for bird watchers alone. It should affect us all.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls all who dwell on earth. This we should remember!

Binu Alex is a journalist-turned-entrepreneur who has contributed stories for BBC, Radio France International, Free Speech Radio News and its affiliate stations. He is now editorial director with commodityonline.com

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