Mahipal Dighi to turn into tourist hotspot as state rolls out makeover plans
Balurghat: Mahipal Dighi of Kushmandi block has turned into safe haven for migratory birds. Around 2500 migratory birds from all over the world including Tibet, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Russia arrive in Mahipal, which is about 59km from here.
The state government is taking concrete steps to convert Mahipal and its adjoining areas into a popular tourist destination. Aiara forest and Nilkuthi, two local spots here, attract many tourists. A resort was also established here recently. This apart, awareness campaigns have been launched to stop poachers' activities in the area.
An elderly local resident Gouranga Sarkar said the area was entirely ruled by avian guests between November and February. "The birds enter in flocks together in search of food and shelter. Their number is increasing every year," he said. Mahipal is home to Lesser Whistling Teal, Common Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Great Cormorant, Northern Pintail, Grey Lag Goose, Ferruginous Pochard, Northern Shoveler and Comb Duck.
Suman Ghosh, a member of Indian Bird Conservation Network and a bird-watcher, said: "What is uncommon and significant this year is the presence of Bar Headed Goose, a rare bird. It usually arrives in India by crossing Himalaya from countries like Tibet, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Russia. It flies above 27000 ft where the supply of oxygen is thin. I have even seen them flying over Mount Everest before entering India. It can fly an enormous distance of more than 1500 km without rest and even survive in extreme climatic condition."
According to experts, these species have not been spotted in Mahipal before
Ghosh said Bird Life International, (BLI) a UK-based organisation, worked to identify important bird areas around the world. While in India, Bombay Natural History Society, an NGO attached with BLI, with the help of Indian Bird Conservation Network (co-partner of BNHS) works for protection of migratory birds.
There are 10 important bird areas in the state. Of them, nine are in north Bengal districts including Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Malda and Raiganj covering Mahananda Wilde Life Sanctuary, Singalila National Park, Neoravalley National Park, Jaldapara National Park, Garumara National Park, Buxa Tiger Reserve, Nayabandh, Panchanandapur and Kulik Bird Sanctuary while the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve is in South Bengal.
Mahipal has the potential to become an important bird area in future as the number of migratory birds has been increasing day-by-day.