Raptors ‘migrate’ to avoid cold

- SHIVA SHARMA, Kaski
Raptors ‘migrate’ to avoid cold

Dec 9, 2014-

An estimated 9, 565 raptors, a group of highly specialised predatory birds, have migrated to favourable destinations via Thulokharka in Lumle VDC, Kaski, along the famous Annapurna region in an attempt to avoid the cold weather.

A group of ornithologists’ led by Tulsi Subedi, director of Himalayan Raptor Migration Project, who are conducting Raptor Migration Count 2014 from September through  December this year found that 33 different species of raptors including steppe eagle, eurasian sparrowhawk, falcon, vulture and harriers among others have started migrating to the area in search of prey. According to Subedi, around 6,000 steppe eagles have used the route this year. Thulokharka in Lumle is an important route for migration for these bird species in Nepal. The team has been conducting studies at Paudur in Lumle and at an Australian camp site with assistance from Nepal Ornithological Union and Himalayan Nature.

 Subedi has been studying the migratory pattern of these carnivorous birds since 2012. During the first full season autumn migration study that was done in 2012, around 10,000 birds of 30 different species migrating east to west through the Himalayan range. He said that the birds, known to engage in reproductive activities in Tibet, Mongolia and various parts of east-Asia, migrate to African nations using the route along the mountains and Tarai regions of Nepal, India and various parts of mid-western Asia. Past studies on birds have mentioned that about 15,000 birds of prey enter Nepal every year during the migration period from September to December.

Among the 33 species counted so far this year, five have been enlisted as near extinct by International Union for Conservation of Nature while three have been categorised under endangered species. The birds of prey, including amur falcon, saker falcon, common and lesser kestrel, cinereous vulture and eurasian griffon are among species that have been found decreasing in number in recent years. Meanwhile, over the period of three years, the number of birds in total has declined by 50 percent, experts said.

According to the experts, environmental change and extreme weather conditions during migratory season were some of the factors attributing to the decline in the number of birds.

Subedi, along with experts Robert DeCandido from USA and Sandesh Gurung of Central Department of Zoology, Tribhuvan University, have been

studying the birds since 2012 for a period of four months every year.

Published: 10-12-2014 09:00

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