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  • 16 January, 2023

  • 5 Min Read

Asian Waterbird Census & Kole Wetland

Asian Waterbird Census & Kole Wetland

According to a survey done as part of the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) 2023, some migratory waterbird species, particularly duck species that visit Kerala's Alappuzha region, are experiencing declining populations.

What are the Survey's Highlights?

  • Significantly absent this time around were duck species including the Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, and Eurasian Wigeon that had been spotted in prior surveys.
  • Impact of Climate Change: The number of birds that visit the area has decreased as a result of climate change. More thorough research is necessary to determine the specific effects of climate change on bird migration.

The number of birds in the Kole Wetland of Kerala declined:

  • Thrissur-Ponnani kole fields, a Ramsar site known for the number and diversity of birds, on the first day of 2023 recorded the lowest count of waterbirds in three decades here. Kole wetlands, spread over an area of 13,632 hectares straddling Thrissur and Malappuram districts.

Reasons for decline in number of migratory birds in the Kole Wetland:

  • Farming-related human interventions such as heavy use of pesticides, dredging, and disinfecting fields for fish farming could have played a crucial role in the avian population decline.
  • The dumping of waste on wetlands also threatens the ecosystem.
  • Huge machinery has been introduced to mechanize farming. In the name of improving facilities for farmers, the muddy bunds have been replaced by concrete bunds. Crisscrossing the fields, many roads have come up. The entire hydrology of the Kole field was drastically changed.
  • Increased human intervention, including dredging using earthmovers, lorries, and tarring of roads, may have hit the arrival of birds.
  • The shortage of food and loss of breeding ground, they would’ve migrated to better places.
  • Increasing invasive species: Trees along the bunds in kole fields are infested by the invasive alien climber, Mikania micrantha, which is popularly known as mile-a-minute weed. The infestation will lead to the drying of the tree. The fast-spreading climber is capable of destroying perching sites for birds and reduces the foraging area for birds, especially for raptors and other fish-hunters.
  • The aquatic invasive plants such as specieswater hyacinth, salvinia (african payal), water spinach, red cabomba, and yellow burhead grow during monsoon in the wetland , covering the wetland which prevents penetration of light in the water, thereby reducing the availability of oxygen and preventing the growth of aquatic organisms, a major source of food for the Kole birds.


  • The decline in the number of birds in the wetland ecosystem will destabilize and ruin it. They play an important part in the ecosystem as bird droppings nurture the fields, and it induces activities of many organisms in the water including fish. Many birds eat insects, herbs, pests, and weeds, helping to farm. Others facilitate pollination. The loss of habitat of birds portends a gloomy future for this ecosystem.???????

About the Asian Waterbird Census:

  • It's a citizen science initiative that promotes the protection and management of wetlands and waterbirds across the globe.
  • The AWC is a component of the Wetlands International-led International Waterbird Census (IWC), which is conducted worldwide.
  • AWC runs concurrently with other IWC regional programs in the Neotropics, West Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.

AWC in India:

  • The organization was founded in the Indian subcontinent in 1987, and it has since expanded quickly to include the majority of Asia, from Afghanistan to Japan, Southeast Asia, and Australasia in the east.
  • The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Wetlands International collaborate to coordinate AWC in India.
  • It provides information about the wetland's health and bird population; the more waterbirds there are, the better the wetland is suited for their needs.
  • It aids in the better execution of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on Migratory Species.

Source: The Hindu

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