Over 70% of Siberian migratory birds have stopped visiting Pakistan

By Dr Kanwal Rai

Welcome no more siberian migratory birds which made their way to Sindh every winter season have largely stopped coming due to various reasons.

Dried up and contaminated water bodies, hunting and netting identified as major causes.


The number of migratory birds coming in from Siberia has declined drastically over the past three decades. Around 150,000 birds, including local and migratory waterfowl, were estimated to have landed at 12 aquatic ‘stopovers’, which is 70% less than in 2018-2019, according to a survey conducted during the winter season.

The migratory birds usually arrive in Pakistan at the end of August and begin leaving in February. The birds are all gone by March. As the temperatures in Siberia drop below -30 degrees Celsius, the birds make their way to warmer climes. The route of the migratory birds is called ‘Flyway Four’ or the ‘Green Route’ in Pakistan. The migratory birds fly From Siberia, over Afghanistan and into Pakistan, where they track the Indus River on the way to Sindh.

Hypotheticaly Some  Wildlife Officer  said that Pakistan have 19 sites where birds land. In which the 10 of site are located in Sindh.The migratory birds temporarily stop in Thatta, Rann of Kutch and Thar coastal areas. Later, they gradually spread to other lakes. Scores of birds stay at three Thattha lakes, Haleji, Keenjhar and Hadbero. A large number of birds arrive at Larkana’s Langh Lake, Drigh Lake and the Hamal Lake in the Qamber district. The birds live in lower and upper Sindh, feed there and stay at their habitats. Around 64 different species of local and migratory birds were identified. The total number of birds in the census stood at 153,916.

According to the experts, there are several reasons for the decline of the migratory birds in Pakistan, specifically Sindh, and both natural and human interventions are to blame.

Natural causes

Tsunami has caused saltwater to intrude Jhabo and Nardri lakes. The change of the lake’s water into saline water is drastically affecting the quality of life of marine animals and plants, and causing the number of the migratory birds visiting the lakes to decline. Migration carries high costs in predation and mortality, including from hunting by humans, and is driven primarily by availability of food. It occurs mainly in the northern hemisphere, where birds are funneled on to specific routes by natural barriers such as the Mediterranean Sea or the Caribbean Sea, and most of the Wildlife Officer give their own idea, those officer say that the reason of  the migrate is that the less rainfall, dried up water passages and the changing of the location into agricultural land were the major reasons for the decline.

Human intervention

Naturally we can see with our necked eye the most of the river and ponds are converted into the large Billings, and people made those places into the residential place.

Speedboats, fish farming and several other human activities on the lakes are also affecting the arrival of the birds. Now the hunting has turned into a business.

Furthermore, unchecked hunting and netting have caused irreparable losses to bird populations and saddened conservationists and wildlife lovers.

Hunting is permitted only in 13 areas and is strictly prohibited in 34 locations, all of which are habitats of migratory birds. But despite the prohibition, illegal and unchecked hunting has been going on for the past three months.

An expert hunter, requesting anonymity, said that innumerable migratory birds used to fly to Sindh during 1984, the time since he has been into hunting. Now, only 30% of them come to the province. He added that previously people used to hunt in limited places and as a hobby, for which the government used to issue permission deeds.

On the other hand, Sindh Wildlife Game Officer cited the Afghan war as a factor in the decline in migratory bird populations. “The wars going on for 40 years have affected the route of the migratory birds which used to travel towards Pakistan.”

Addressing the concerns, the officers of Sindh Wildlife Department said that the department faced a shortage of staff and transport facilities. However, they said, the department was taking every possible measure for the conservation of wildlife with the available resources. “Netting is an illegal process and strict actions are being taken against those involved,” and they also said that the Hunting of the migratory birds under legal conditions is permitted on specific locations.

Sindh wildlife department was taking stern actions to curb illegal hunting.

They said that the government should ban hunting for the conservation of the migratory birds or it should be brought under control and concrete steps should be taken for its monitoring.