• The two-day Asian Waterbird Census-2020 has commenced in Andhra Pradesh under the aegis of experts from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).



  • Every January, thousands of volunteers across Asia and Australasia visit wetlands in their country and count waterbirds. This citizen science programme is the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC).
  • The AWC is an integral part of the global waterbird monitoring programme, the International Waterbird Census (IWC), coordinated by Wetlands International.
  • The IWC is a monitoring programme operating in 143 countries to collect information on the numbers of waterbirds at wetland sites.
  • Wetlands International is a global not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation and restoration of wetlands.
  • It runs in parallel with other regional programmes of the International Waterbird Census in Africa, Europe, West Asia, the Neotropics and the Caribbean.
  • Scope:
    • It was initiated in 1987 in the Indian subcontinent and has grown rapidly to cover major regions of Asia, from Afghanistan eastwards to Japan, Southeast Asia and Australasia.
    • The census covers the entire East Asian – Australasian Flyway and a large part of the Central Asian Flyway.
      • The East Asia – Australasia Flyway extends from Arctic Russia and North America to the southern limits of Australia and New Zealand. It encompasses large parts of East Asia, all of Southeast Asia and includes eastern India and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
      • The Central Asian Flyway (CAF) covers a large continental area of Eurasia between the Arctic and Indian Oceans and the associated island chains.
  • Benefits:
    • The count not only gives an idea of the birds at the wetland but also the health of the wetland – a good number of waterbirds indicates that it has adequate feeding, resting, roosting and foraging spots.
    • The information collected helps to promote the designation and management of internationally important sites such as nationally protected areas, Ramsar Sites, East Asian – Australasian Flyway Network Sites, Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs).
    • It also helps in implementation of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Convention on Biological Diversity‘s (CBD).


  • The AWC is jointly coordinated by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Wetlands International.
  • A reference list of internationally important AWC sites and wetland IBAs in India has been prepared.
    • India has 42 Ramsar sites, the latest one included is Tso Kar Wetland Complex of Ladakh.
    • BirdLife’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) Programme identifies, monitors and protects a global network of priority sites for the conservation of birds and other wildlife. India has more than 450 sites.
    • The 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13) concluded in Gandhinagar, Gujarat in February 2020
    • Ten new species were added to CMS Appendices at COP13. Seven species were added to Appendix I (provides the strictest protection) including the Asian Elephant, Jaguar, Great Indian Bustard, Bengal Florican, etc.

India submitted its Sixth National Report (NR6) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in December 2018.

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