Basai wetland – the most frequently visited wetland around Delhi, a non-protected area and home to a pair of sarus crane, is almost vanishing now. Constructions are going on in full swing around it. Land owners have possibly sold their lands already as they have stopped cultivating in the area. Not more than 25% of the area is left as compared to what I had seen some 2 years back. The wetland which used to be surrounded by mustard fields is now surrounded by half built high rises.
Despite these odds and constant sounds coming from the nearby construction sites throughout the day and continuous movements of trucks carrying loads of earth and other materials, a pair of sarus crane have decided to build their nest in this small wetland.
Their chick is now almost a month old. It will probably take another 3 – 4 months for the chick to make its maiden flight. We found the trio in one corner of the wetland in ankle deep water near a line of vertical concrete posts which basically speak volumes of the future of this wetland.
Sarus crane mainly breed during the monsoon season – July to October, although there are records of breeding in all the months. Last year it was around November that we have seen a pair with a chick of similar size like the one we have seen today in Basai. Considering the fact that July has just started, my friend mentioned that this must be due to the constant pressure from the builders that the pair from Basai had decided to pre-pone their breeding.
The chick will be facing the wrath of this monsoon too. A good rain fall might submerge the entire area as constructions sites have blocked almost all water exit points. The water drain running through the wetland will not help in carrying the access waters from the area as it is built a little higher above the ground and hence possibility is such that the canal might release more water into the wetland. Top of this stray dogs from the nearby villages can also add some concerns.
Considering the fact that the survival rate of a chick is somewhat less than 50% in average as far as sarus crane is concerned, I hope the little one from Basai will pass through all the hurdles.
*There are around 10,000 Sarus cranes left in India. It is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red list. Environmental pollution and habitat destruction are the major threats among others. The above photograph is used as a representation only. Thanks to Sudeshna for a quick response.