By Rakesh Dixit
Lakhs of migratory birds have turned Chilika, Asia's largest brackish water lake straddling three Orissa districts, into a plumed wonder.
But even as three lakh birds from across the globe have arrived in the lagoon, spread over Khurda, Puri and Ganjam districts, the fear of poaching continues to haunt the winged beauties.
According to officials the 1,000 sq km lake, about 100kms from the state Capital, is hard to monitor by wildlife officials because of its huge spread.
Chilika divisional forest officer (DFO), B P Acharya said this year patrolling has been intensified at the lake.
"We have already set up 17 camps in villages near the lake to protect the birds from being hunted," he said adding that the camps were being manned by over 50 forest personnel.
Around 150,000 birds were sighted at Nalaban Island, the core area of the lake where the bird sanctuary is located.
Around the same number have also been seen in other parks of the water body which is a protected wetland site.
Most of the winged guests have arrived from areas as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea, Russia, Mongolia, central and southeast Asia, Ladakh and the Himalayas.
At least 156 species of birds have been spotted in the lake so far. Of these 52 are local bird species. Photos.