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Foresters to study bird migrations to Nalsarovar

                                                                                       The Times of India, Ahmadabad, 27th April, 2013

Even as avian flu has been creating a global health scare with the H9N7 virus and related deaths being reported in humans in China, Gujarat forest department with the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History has decided to take up a study on avian influenza.

This institute has expertise in disease management. It will also support Nalsarovar staff to work out a disease management plan and carry out a study on the disease.
 The Gujarat Forest department, Wetland International, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) will carry out a detailed study of the migratory routes from Central Asia and Europe of birds that frequent Nalsarovar.

The department has decided to ring birds for the study. "Bird ringing or banding is a technique used to study birds by attaching a small, individually numbered, metal or plastic tag to their legs or wings." said the officer.

Sasi Kumar, deputy conservator of forests, Nalsarovar said BNHS has expertise in ringing birds and hence the forest department will carry out this study in collaboration with them.

He said ringing will help the department study aspects of the bird's life, by taking various measurements during capture, such as molt, fat content, age, sex, wing and tail. An added bonus is that occasionally a researcher can locate the same individual at a later date. This recapture or recovery of the bird can provide information including migration, longevity, mortality, population studies, territoriality, feeding behaviour, and other aspects. "With international bodies involved, it will be easy to trace the birds and their migratory pattern to the wetland near Ahmedabad."

Kumar said this was the first such study in the state, but there have been several such projects nationally. He said: "For Central Asian and European birds this may probably be the first such study."