Bhubaneswar: At least one lakh migratory birds from places as far as Siberia, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan have arrived at Odisha's Chilika Lake India's largest brackish water lagoon.

"About 1,20,000 birds were spotted on the lake's Nalabana Island alone," a senior state wildlife official told reporters, adding that  the number of birds is expected to go up as the winter intensifies.

The 1,000 sq km lake, about 100 km from Bhubaneswar, is spread over the districts of Puri, Khordha and Ganjam along the eastern coast and is home to some of the largest congregations of migratory birds in the country. Every year, about a million migratory birds come to the lake in October and return in March.

An estimated 165 species of birds are found in the lake during winter.  Of these, 93 species are migratory and 72 residential. Despite security measures, poaching the single biggest threat to the migratory birds here continues to remain a headache for wildlife officials.

At least one person was arrested from Tangi area of the lake on Sunday in connection with the poaching of 11 birds, the official said. It was the first incident of poaching this year during the bird season, he added.

Last winter, around 100 people were arrested from different areas of the lake for hunting birds. This year, patrolling has been intensified near the lake and awareness has been created in villages around the lake on bird conservation.


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