Dhanauri: A Bird Habitat Amidst Human Habitation

Himanshu Choudhery

The Dhanauri wetland is a small but important wetland located in Greater Noida, Gautam Buddha Nagar district, Uttar Pradesh, close to the Okhla bird sanctuary and Surajpur wetland. The wetland is surrounded by several villages, namely, Dhanauri, Amipur Bangar, Thasrana, Gadana and Bhatta. The wetland, which is mostly composed of marshes, is a significant site for the vulnerable Sarus Crane (Antigone antigone), whose population is facing numerous threats around the world. The Sarus Crane is the world’s tallest flying bird and there are three subspecies of Sraus Crane in the world, namely, the Indian Sarus Crane, the Eastern Sarus Crane (Antigone sharpii) and the Australian Sarus Crane (Antigone gilli). The Indian Sarus Crane is the heaviest and tallest among the three subspecies of Sarus Crane (Archibald et al., 2003). It belongs to the order Gruiformes and family Gruidae. 


Waterbirds at Dhanauri wetland

The agricultural fields surrounding the Dhanauri wetland are also very important for Sarus Crane as they often utilize them for foraging, nesting and breeding. As a result, the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has declared the Dhanauri wetland an important bird habitat. The Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) has also reserved 100 hectares of agricultural land of nearby villages for making the bird sanctuary which includes 50 hectares of natural wetland (Hindustan Times, 2016). However, as per a more recent news report, the forest department has given permission for only 25 hectares to be notified as wetland (Hindustan Times, 2019).

In India, the largest population of Sarus Crane is in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where it is also the state bird. However, in the past several years, the population of the Sarus Crane has suffered a rapid decline, and is increasingly being forced into crop fields for foraging and nesting due to degradation and shrinkage of natural wetlands (Sundar et al., 2000; Sundar and Choudhury, 2003). Even in the case of Dhanauri, the areas surrounding the wetland have witnessed rapid urbanisation, and more and more people are using the wetland for a variety of purposes. In such a scenario, the wetlands face the threat of degradation and shrinkage, as they are exposed to the pressures of anthropogenic activities.  


Sarus Crane on wheat harvested land. 

Besides the Sarus Crane, some of the bird species reported in the Dhanauri wetland are Common teal (Anas crecca) , Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Northern-Pintail (Anas acuta), Greylag geese (Anser anser), Bar-headed geese (Anser indicus), Woolly-necked Stork (Ciconia episcopus), Black-necked stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus), Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala), and Eurasian marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)among others. While the Dhanauri wetland serves as a prime habitat for these bird species, proper planning and conservation initiatives may be required for the wetlands long-term sustenance. The wetland can be preserved and protected as a suitable habitat for many avifaunal species, especially at a time when there is a rapid decline in wetland areas all over the country.

References

  • Archibald, G.W., Sundar, K.S.G., Barzen, J. (2003) A review of the three subspecies of sarus cranes (Grus antigone). Journal of Ecological Society 16: 5-15. 
  • Sundar, K.S.G., Kaur, J., Choudhury, B.C. (2000) Distribution, demography and conservation status of the Indian sarus crane (Grus antigone antigone) in India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 97: 319-339. 
  • Sundar, K.S.G., Choudhary, B.C. (2003) The Indian sarus crane Grus antigone: A Literature Review. Journal of Ecological Society 16:41.

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