BUREAUCRATIC APATHY THREATENS THE FUTURE OF AN IMPORTANT ASIAN WETLAND
The Asian Sanctuary Campaigns organisation is appealing for support in its efforts to save the wetlands of the Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, India, as a World Heritage and Ramsar site.
Bureaucratic incompetence and apathy, together with poor local land management due to lack of education and environmental awareness, have combined to seriously threaten the future of the park after a succession of droughts. Since 2004 migrating bird species, including threatened population such as Siberian Crane, Sarus Crane, Black Necked Stork, Sociable Lapwing, Pallas’ Fish Eagle, Marshall’s Iora and the Greater Adjutant have ceased to use the wetlands as a staging area in winter. It is essential that measures are taken to restore the wetlands to their former state as soon as possible and that this habitat is maintained as a World Heritage and Ramsar site of global importance.
You can read more background on the
Asia Sanctuary Keoladeo campaign site
WHAT YOU CAN DO
As recommended by the local Indian conservationists send an email to the Indian Prime Minister*, the Environment Minister and the Chief Minister of Rajasthan. An adapted draft text is provide below; but feel free to write in your own words if you have time.
Click on the link:
MAIL TO INDIAN DECISION MAKERS
Mail addresses in full:
To: (not sure about the first 2 mail addresses!)
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
(you can also write to the PM direct online here – max 500 characters)
SUBJECT: THE KEOLADEO NATIONAL PARK MUST BE RESTORED AND MAINTAINED AS A WETLAND OF GLOBAL IMPORTANCE
Mr. Manmohan Singh,
Hon. Prime Minister of India,
Secretariat, South Block,
Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests,
CGO Complex, Paryavaran Bhavan,
Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110 003.
Smt. Vasundhara Raje
Chief Minister of Rajasthan
Our attention has been drawn to the plight of the Keoladeo National Park which, if corrective measures are not implemented, will have long lasting repercussions for both the ecology and local residents. The Park is the habitat of over 350 species of birds and has been declared a World Heritage Site. Migrating birds visiting the wetlands annually include the famed Siberian Crane, Sarus Crane, Black Necked Stork, Sociable Lapwing, Pallas’ Fishing Eagle, Marshall’s Iora and the Greater Adjutant. As a result of successive droughts, largely as a result of poor land management, the area has dried up and migratory birds now cease to visit these wetlands.
The history of the park and its ecological importance are summarised here:
The Keoladeo National Park at Bharatpur, originally a duck shooting reserve for royalty, was declared a bird sanctuary in 1956. In 1985 it was awarded World Heritage Site status from UNESCO. The wetlands are also a Ramsar Site of global importance.
The Park has suffered extreme drought over the past few years and the situation is likely to get worse. In 2001 when the endangered Siberian Cranes failed to arrive at Bharatpur, warnings of the gravity of the problem were ignored.
Insufficient rainfall during 2004 led to an immense stress for insects, birds, fish, snakes and other such life forms on which birds depend. The Ajan bund, fed by the Ghambir and Banganga rivers normally provide water for the park. This year, water from these sources was diverted for land irrigation.
Occasional drought is part of the normal natural cycle. However, the present scenario is extremely critical in that nesting activity is at its lowest ebb ever and, to make matters worse, resident birds are abandoning the region for greener pastures.
A number of other factors combine to make the situation worse. These include antiquated pumping equipment (still not modernised despite governmental sanctions); the illegal grazing by 5,000 cattle.
The depletion of the park’s natural resources, and thereby its attractiveness for ‘green’ tourism, is resulting in unemployment – and eventually poverty – for local residents, many of whom act as nature guides and rickshaw pullers. Two simple low-cost measures, with long term effect, could and must be implemented urgently to halt and hopefully reverse this unacceptable decline in biodiversity and its impact on the local economy.
We urge you to take urgent action to:
Ensure an adequate provision of effective water pumps to restore the wetlands to their former state and,
Introduce an environmental awareness programme for local farmers and land workers to educate them in the long term ecological and economic importance of the area.
In the hope that you will treat this matter with the necessary priority we remain,
(Name and address)