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Bar-Headed Geese in Assam

Bar-headed Geese in Assam

Bar-headed goose, locally known as Dhitaraj, arrives in Assam in November or December and departs by March.

A group of Bar-headed geese swimming in water.
A group of Bar-headed geese swimming in water. Image ©Adesh Shivkar.

By Mithu Das   August 30, 2011

Weighs two to three kg and 75 cm long, Bar-headed goose, locally known as Dhitaraj, arrives in Assam in November or December and departs by March. The bird can be easily identified by two black bars on it's forehead.

In winter, Bar-headed geese can be seen in many places in Assam. However, large population gather in Kaziranga National Park, Joisagar Tank, Pani-Dihing Biosphere Reserve and Majuli. Mr. Bibhav Talukdar reported that he had seen more than 5000 Bar- headed geese at Joisagar Tank, Sibsagar,  on 18th January 1995. It was the largest gathering of bar-headed geese ever recorded in Assam.

These birds graze at night in marshes, jheels, rivers, grassy plains and paddy fields and feed on grain, grass, tubers and tender shoots. It has been reported that they often destroy young winter cultivation.

IUCN considered Bar-headed goose to be 'least concern'. However, ''the population has suffered a severe reduction in numbers owing to over-hunting, unsustainable levels of egg collecting and habitat destruction," says Birdlife International. In Assam, these birds are mainly suffered from habitat loss, pollution and hunting.

Bar-headed geese prefer Assam as their favorite wintering ground. "With more than 15,000 geese, the Brahmaputra valley of Assam seems to be the most important wintering ground for the species in the world," says Anwaruddin Choudhury.

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