Black kites doing well in Delhi concrete jungle.
A RECENT study by the Wildlife Institute of India ( WII) has brought a piece of good news for bird lovers in Delhi. Among the major cities of the world, the national Capital has the highest density of black kites ( Milvus migrans govinda).
And for the past five decades, Delhi has been maintaining a stable breeding population of this bird, commonly known as ' cheel'. Despite urbanisation and loss of green cover, Delhi's black kite population has remained intact.
According to the report by the Dehradun- based institute, the bird's ' nesting density' in Delhi is 15 pairs per sq km, which is almost the same as the figures for 1970s. In 1971, Russian scientist Vladimir M. Galushin had conducted a similar study across 150 sq km and assessed the black kite's ' nesting density' at 16.1 pairs per sq km.
Ghazipur in Delhi remains a hot spot for black kites, with abundance of food in the dumping yard, large number of slaughter houses, and chicken/ fish markets located there.
To count the number of black kites in that locality, WII researchers developed the method of photograph- based count using software Image J . The number of black kites was estimated around 2,500 while analysing the 360- degree aerial panoramic shot at the hour of highest congregation.
According to the 1971 study by Galushin, the ' nesting density' of black kites at the North Campus of Delhi University varied between 50- 80 pairs per sq km.
The current density of this area has more or less remained stable.
In the 1980s, Dr A. K. Malhotra conducted a study of National Zoological Park ( NZP) and reported black kite's ' nesting density' as 25 nests per sq km; by 2004- 07 this had come down to five per sq km. The recent WII report places the density in NZP at 87-- 118 nests per sq km. In other words, the NZP area has witnessed an impressive recovery.
Funded by the Raptor Research & Conservation Foundation ( Mumbai), the research began last year and the final report of the initial survey was recently released by WII.
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