LAHORE: As Lahore’s green cover slowly gives way to concrete structures and urban development, the city’s birds must find a place to go. And though there have been no surveys on the migration pattern or population of birds in Lahore, Dr Uzma Khan of the WWF-Pakistan, says it doesn’t take much to notice that Lahore’s ecosystem has suffered badly over the past decade.
Khan, director of biodiversity at the WWF, says the last survey of the ecosystem was conducted when the government cut trees along the Lahore Canal to widen the road. “The ecosystem changes with increasing urbanisation and yet there has been no assessment of bird migration in the city.”
The old endemic trees of the city’s gardens, once a popular haunt of fruit bats and several resident bird species and many summer, winter and transit migrants, are now limited to a few sites including Lawrence Garden and the Punjab University’s New Campus, she says.
On the other hand, the population of scavenger birds, including mynahs, crows and kites, is on the rise. The birds live off human waste and sometimes feed on the young of smaller birds. “This, too, creates an imbalance in the ecosystem.”
She says Lahore was once home to several species that feed on fruit – including the grey hornbill, green pigeons, woodpeckers, barbets and parakeets. “Now you can rarely spot them.” The Indian roller and kingfisher birds can be spotted in former agricultural, recently urbanised, areas, she says. “Piling on concrete in such areas cannot bode well for the birds.”