‘Birding tours in U’khand purely driven by revenue’

  • Nihi Sharma Sahani, Hindustan Times, Dehradun
  • Updated: Oct 28, 2015 22:05 IST
People watching birds through binoculars at Khirsu in Uttarakhand. (HT File Photo)

Bird conservation needs a lot more effort than just merely projecting them as a visual treat for the tourists, says Dr Dinesh Bhatt, professor of zoology and environment science and dean, faculty of life sciences at Gurukul Kangri University in Haridwar.

He said while Uttarakhand forest department was busy promoting the hill state as the ‘birding paradise’ to boost tourism, it does not have a methodical approach towards bird conservation.

“The promotion of birds is mainly for the revenue,” he says, adding there should a policy for their strategic conservation.

“Encouragement of birding tours and other related tourism activities is purely driven by revenue. The state has winged species in abundance. The state’s first objective should be to spread knowledge and information about birds, not just watching it for visual treat. We are fortunate to have wide variety of birds and therefore, if we want to sustain them, a policy is needed for their conservation, monitoring, and research,” Bhatt said.

Bhatt is among the 12 scientists selected recently from across the world to participate in the 27th International Ornithological Congress to be held at Vancouver, Canada in August 2018.

The global meet of bird experts is aimed at promoting avian biology by chalking out plans for strengthening local research and outlining challenges.

Bhatt, who is concerned over poor research on avifauna (birds of a specific region) species, said through this conference, he would try to advocate more studies in the field of ornithology.

“Research on birds is the least concerned area of science in state. Amateur birders go into the wild and list species based on their presence and absence. But, no scientific research on the ecology, breeding, global warming impacts, habitation and their actual numbers is ever done. It’s a sad situation for us today as we cannot even say whether bird species are flourishing or not,” he added.

He said two species - River Lapwing and Painted Stork - especially need immediate attention as they face poaching threats because of unchecked quarrying on the river side.

He says the status of migratory species Green Warbler that comes from Russia and Kazakistan during winter season in Uttarakhand is also unknown.

Another migratory bird Rudy Shelduck, which comes in large numbers at Asan wetland, also remains a mystery due to absence of information about its yearly numbers, he says.

“We cannot say whether the population of migratory birds we see here every year is growing or not.”

Bhatt also raised concern over lack of government support to field scientists.

“The process of seeking permission for conducting researches in the wild is so complicated that the experts ultimately drop the idea of doing it. That’s the reason why policy is needed that will also simplify permissions to scientists to visit forest areas and conduct studies,” he said.

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