GUWAHATI, Jan 17 � A few small, isolated pockets in the heart of the city�s rapidly increasing concrete-scape continue to shelter various species of birds and lesser wildlife. Unfortunately, these small patches of green cover are being increasingly pushed to the brink in the face of the city�s frenetic pace of �development.�
One such small green island happens to be the campus of the Directorate of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary at Chenikuthi, about a km from the Brahmaputra river bank.
Ankush Bhuyan, an IITian (IIT-Madras) and former OSD (Planning), Central University of Jharkhand, who conducted a case study on �birds in urban neighbourhood� at Chenikuthi recorded as many as 38 species � including migratory ones � in the compound of the directorate.
Chenikuthi is one of the oldest residential areas of Guwahati and it still preserves, in a limited way, the old-world charm of large compounds, age-old trees and Assam-type houses. However, gentrification of the neighbourhood has started giving way to tall RCC buildings that leave little for open spaces. Traffic congestion and smoke-dust pollution are also characteristic of the busy MC Road as many reputed schools are located here.
�Currently, the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Directorate campus can rightly claim to have retained a semblance of that old world. And within this neighbourhood, already burdened with a growing population of people and cars, there is yet another beautiful world of flora and fauna,� Bhuyan said.
To support this claim of a colourful world within a world, Bhuyan has presented photographic evidence of 38 different species of birds on the trees of the Veterinary campus at Chenikuthi.
�Of these 38 species, almost 80 per cent were digitally captured on a deciduous tree and a mango tree right across the author�s study room window. The GPS near the deciduous tree reads: 91.75787� E and 26.18875� N,� Bhuyan said.
Many of the birds sighted across the window are migratory birds that come during September-April. �They travel hundreds and thousands of miles and arrive here tired and hungry. This habitat provides them space for rest and the food they need,� Bhuyan said.
The resident birds include the rufous treepie, spotted dove, crow, house sparrow, common mynah, blue-throated barbet, oriental honey buzzard, rose-ringed parakeet, pied starling, and the red-vaunted bulbul.
The Veterinary compound plays a crucial role in sustaining a balanced ecology. Bhuyan also mentioned two interesting phenomena recorded last year.
�The first phenomenon was around 8 am on March 25, 2014, when a swarm of bees suddenly came and rested on a tree for about two hours and left as suddenly. Then, again on March 28, 2014, started a migration of a vast number of lemon butterflies, lasting for almost a week. Their flight direction was from east to west across the city. The trees of the compound provided the butterflies a resting ground,� Bhuyan said.
Bhuyan said that the Forest Department, the district administration and the citizens should appreciate the existence of such varied avifauna within the city�s concrete jungle and initiate measures to ensure their long-term survival.
�One would hope that the Forest Department declares the veterinary compound as an urban bird sanctuary. There would be several such other areas in the city that house diverse avifauna and lesser animals. Conservation measures should be initiated for their survival,� he said.
�Someone once said that birds too build houses, but do not change the landscape. Our city planners should take a leaf out of the saying,� he added.