The 100-acre wetland area at Dhanauri, which is home to over 120 Saruscranes, is all set to become a Sarus research centre.
The forest department of Gautam Budh Nagar has proposed a conservation and education plan for Dhanauri, which has been recognised as an important bird habitat by the Bombay Natural History Society. The International Sarus Crane Foundation, USA, and Nature Conservation Foundation, Bangalore, have been roped in as the knowledge partners for the project.
With an estimated project cost of Rs 25 lakh, a plan has been submitted to the Sarus Protection Society in Lucknow. At present, the project awaits a budget approval. The programme is based on scientific research and education.
Sarus, listed as a Schedule 1 bird in the Wildlife Protection Act, is also the state bird of Uttar Pradesh and is provided with a special conservation plan. India is also one of the major Sarus habitats in the world with over 80% of the world's Sarus population inhabiting its wetlands. The maximum concentration of these birds from seven Sarus range countries, can be found in India.
"Once the research unit is set up, the birds would be micro-chipped for behaviour and time-series studies to observe their needs, food hunt and breeding patterns. A SWAT analysis of the entire Dhanauri region will also be undertaken," H V Girish, district forest officer, Gautam Budh Nagar said.
The proposal also includes the need to introduce eco-clubs, programmes for schoolchildren and the inclusion of local villagers in the conservation plan. The district forest officer is also working on getting support from the private landowners from the three converging villages who have about 11 acres land in the wetland area.
"Private land which overlaps the Sarus habitat is a problem; but we are going to educate the locals and involve them in the conservation process," Girish said.
Located 46km away from Noida, Dhanauri was first noticed as a Sarus breeding zone, when bird-watcher Anand Arya
chanced upon it during a birding trip in 2014 and demanded it be notified as a wetland. It spreads across Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority's sectors 16 and 17. Arya had informed the UP State government, National Green Tribunal and the Ministry of Environment and Forests of his findings.