Wetland loss, Development Put Kashmir Bird Migration at Risk

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — The cackle and cry of Kashmir’s annual bird migration has long been a welcome ruckus for those living in the Indian-controlled Himalayan territory. It signals the summer’s end, the coming snows and the global importance of Kashmir’s environment for species arriving from as far as northern Europe and Japan.

But these days, wildlife experts say they have never seen so few birds — and so few species — feeding and breeding around the wetlands nestled between the region’s mountain peaks and plateaus. A combination of climate change and haphazard urban development are to blame, scientists say.

Colorful birds like the whooper swan, stiff-tailed duck and cotton teal have not been seen in the area in recent years. While there has been little scientific study to quantify the falling numbers, former regional wildlife warden Mohammed Shafi Bacha says he counts only 18 species visiting today out of 28 that came three decades ago.

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