Keoladeo Ghana National ParkThe Keoladeo National Park or Keoladeo Ghana National Park formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Rajasthan, India is a famous avifauna sanctuary that sees (or saw) thousands of rare and highly endangered birds such as the Siberian Crane come here during the winter season. Over 230 species of birds are known to have made the National Park their home. It is also a major tourist centre with scores of ornithologists arriving here in the hibernal season. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971. It is also a declared World Heritage Site.
The sanctuary was created 250 years ago and is named after a Keoladeo (Shiva) temple within its boundaries. Initially, it was a natural depression; and was flooded after the Ajan Bund was constructed by Maharaja Suraj Mal, the then ruler of the princely state of Bharatpur, between 1726 to 1763. The bund was created at the confluence of two rivers, the Gambhir and Banganga. The park was a happy hunting ground for the maharajas of Bharatpur, a tradition dating back to 1850, and duck shoots were organised yearly in honor of the British viceroys. In one shoot alone in 1938, over 4,273 birds such as mallards and teals were killed by Lord Linlithgow, the then Governor-General of India. After India's independence, the rulers of the princely states were allowed shooting rights until 1972. In 1982, grazing was banned in the park, leading to violent clashed between the local farmer and Gujjar communities and the government.
The sanctuary hosts a small wintering population of the rare Siberian Cranes. Other species include the ruddy shelducks, gulls, northern shovelers, northern pintails, coots, garganey, tufted ducks and common pochard.
In late 2004 however, the Rajasthan government led by Vasundhara Raje succumbed to pressure from farmers to prevent water from being diverted to the sanctuary. The water supply to the park dropped from 540,000,000 to 18,000,000 cubic feet (15,000,000 to 510,000 m³). The result was an ecological disaster with the marshlands turning dry and inhospitable. Most of the birds flew off to alternate avenues as far as Garhmukteshwar, Uttar Pradesh (90 km form New Delhi) on the river Ganga for breeding. This resulted in many of the birds being hunted for their meat. The act was criticised by leading environmentalists, leading to a Public Interest Litigation being filed in court.
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