Spread over 1,600 kanals, or 80 hectares, Gharana has been notified as a Wetland Conservation Reserve

Unconcerned with geopolitical tensions that intermittently haunt the area, the winged ones have kept their date with the famous Gharana wetland, situated right on the border with Pakistan in R S Pura in Jammu.While more than 2,000 migratory birds from across the globe have already descended on the wetland, wildlife planners are counting on an equal number more to delight them.”Around 2,000 birds have come so far from different countries including those in south-east Asia. We are expecting 3,000 to 4,000 of them this year,” Suresh Kumar, wildlife warden of the wetland, told dna.Spread over 1,600 kanals, or 80 hectares, Gharana has been notified as a Wetland Conservation Reserve. Nestled in the biogeographic zone of the north-west Himalayas which enjoys a subtropical climate, the area’s main source of precipitation is monsoon rains.Earlier, the roar of gunshots and shelling from across the border would frighten the birds, but after the ceasefire in 2003, the dwellers of the skies have started flocking to the facility again. “Birds are free of tension. There is no disturbance in this area, as there was before,” said Kumar.Experts said that since the ceasefire, the wetland has emerged as a popular winter shelter for thousands of migratory birds. “This sanctuary is basically a stopover for birds. They come here to stay for a brief period,” said a bird watcher.Some of the birds that have converged on Gharana include the common teal, northern shoveler, gadwall, northern pintail, Indian moorhen, purple swamphen, common coot, little cormorant, gray heron, little egret, cattle egret, black crowned night heron, white wagtail, pied kingfisher and white throat kingfisher.”This year only a small number of bar-headed geese has arrived. It is not necessary that the birds which arrived last year will again come this year. Sometimes, they join another flock en route and go elsewhere,” said Kumar.The Jammu and Kashmir government has gone the whole hog to promote Gharana as a paradise for eco-tourism. “We are raising the infrastructure to promote eco-tourism. It includes a Nature Interpretation Centre (NIC), where we will be displaying pictures of the birds, and brief visitors on birds and the wetland. Our management plan is in its final stages,” said Kumar.

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Jammu’s Gharana receives its annual winged guests amid ceasefire