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Central Asian Flyway: India leads global effort to save migratory birds

  • Category
    Ecology and Environment
  • Published
    12th May, 2023


In one of its kind continent-wide effort to save migratory birds, eleven countries have agreed on an institutional framework. The framework, known as Central Asian Flyway (CAF), is aimed to strengthen efforts for migratory birds and their habitats in a coordinated manner.

What is Central Asian Flyway?

  • Countries: The Central Asian Flyway is a major migratory route for birds, covering 30 countries from the Arctic Ocean to the Indian Ocean.
    • Of these 30 countries, 11 have come on-board for coordinated efforts to save migratory birds within the Central Asian flyway.
      • These eleven countries are India, Armenia, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Mongolia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
      • Other than these eleven countries, more nations must also come on-board for the formalisation of complete Central Asian Flyway within one single mechanism. 
    • Biodiversity: It is home to more than 400 species of migratory birds, including threatened and endangered species such as the Siberian crane and the lesser white-fronted goose.

What is flyway?

  • A flyway is a geographical region within which a number of migratory bird species complete their annual cycle.
    • The annual cycle includes breeding, moulting, staging and non-breeding
  • A total of 370 species of migratory birds visit the Indian subcontinent annually.

What is India’s role?

  • Once agreed upon by all the countries, India may serve as secretariat of the Central Asian Flyway in due course.
  • India has been taking proactive steps in the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats and has been advocating establishment of a Central Asian Flyway initiative that first began in 2005 in New Delhi.

Important Migratory Species in India

  • Pallikaranai in Chennai attracts a large number of flamingoes, ducks and waders.
  • Pulicat Lake on the Tamil Nadu-Andhra border hosts flamingoes; ducks and waders can be seen in Chilika lagoon in Odisha.
  • Other notable sites to see migratory birds are the Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur in Rajasthan and Khijadia Bird Sanctuary in Jamnagar in Gujarat.
  • Some birds are passage migrants, like the spotted flycatcher, rufous-tailed scrub robin and European roller. They migrate through a large part of western India and over winter in Africa.
  • Amur Falcons pass through India in December.
  • Many birds arrive from temperate regions; the Siberian Cranes come to India in winter. 

Government Initiative for migratory birds

World Migratory Bird day is a bi-annual global campaign organised to raise awareness about migratory birds, the need for their conservation, and the importance of the preservation of their habitat. It is celebrated on the second Saturday in May and then in October.

  • National Action Plan: India has launched the National Action Plan for the Conservation of Migratory Birds (2018-2023) along the central Asian flyway to reduce population decline of migratory birds and secure their habitat. 
    • The plan have set the national goal of halting and reversing the decline migratory bird population by 2027.

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