Berhampur (Odisha): The wildlife authorities today decided to impose a ban for about two weeks on entry of visitors into Nalabana, the bird sanctuary area inside the Chilka Lake from December 25.
The blanket prohibition would be enforced till completion of the annual bird count in the lake scheduled to be held on January 10, officials said.
"Except the patrolling squads, others will not be allowed to visit the 15.53 sqkm Nalabana area. The ban will be strictly followed to ensure the migratory birds in the sanctuary area are not disturbed, just before their count," said Bikash Ranjan Dash, divisional forest officer (DFO) Chilka wildlife division.
Tourists and visitors, including senior government officers, visit the lake and wish to visit Nalabana on the eve of or on the New Year which causes much disturbance to the birds before their count, said a wildlife officer.
"Imposition of ban will ensure smooth conduct of the count of winged guests in the sanctuary area as well as other areas of the lake," he said.
Even though the birds descend in other areas of the lake like Mangalajodi, Bhusandapur, Sorana and Rambha, the main attraction of the visitors is Nalabana, where migratory birds congregate in large numbers.
The wildlife officers said visitors would be allowed to visit other areas of the blue lagoon.
"The total ban in Nalabana will also help us to prevent possible bird poaching on New Year eve," the DFO said.
"We will request tour operators and boat operators not to take visitors to Mangalajodi area, the next bird congregation area after Nalabana, two days before the bird count," Dash said.
An estimated seven lakh birds of different species have already descended in the lake with the most of them in the Nalabana area, officials added.