Soon, first-of-its-kind bird festival to be held in Kashmir valley

Updated on Jun 13, 2022 02:52 AM IST

An avian festival, purportedly the first-of-its-kind, will soon be organised in Kashmir valley to promote ecotourism

Recently, the Jammu and Kashmir administration had held a meeting to discuss the opening of birding sites to tourists. (HT File)
Recently, the Jammu and Kashmir administration had held a meeting to discuss the opening of birding sites to tourists. (HT File)
ByMir Ehsan, Srinagar

An avian festival, purportedly the first-of-its-kind, will soon be organised in Kashmir valley to promote ecotourism.

A proposal has also been made to open popular birding sites across the picturesque valley to tourists.

Recently, the Jammu and Kashmir administration had held a meeting to discuss the opening of birding sites to tourists. Tourism and culture secretary Sarmad Hafeez said, “The bird festival, which will be the first of its kind, will also open alternative sources of livelihood for locals.”

Officials say the festival will tentatively be held in Pahalgam and Dachigam areas. “Besides, bird watching sessions, awareness camps and conservation drives will also be organised. Bird watching trails will be set up across Jammu and Kashmir. They will remain open for birders for a month before the festival,” an official, privy to the matter, said.

Popular birding sites in Kashmir include Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Dachigam and Qazinag. “Kashmir is home to a wide variety of birds, which frequent its forests, hillocks, parks, meadows, wetlands and lakes. Most people find bird watching to be a stress buster and quite fun,” said Mushtaq Ahmad Lone, a former wildlife officer, who has served at the Kazinag Wildlife Sanctuary that falls inBaramulla district.

The sanctuary, which falls close to the Line of Control (LoC), is home to 120 species of birds, 20 species of mammals and 17 types of butterflies. At per official records, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have around 500 species of birds,of which 32 are endangered. The opening of new sites will provide an added attraction for the tourists and bird watchers.

In winter, the water bodies and wetlands of Kashmir host lakhs of feathered visitors who annually fly in from central Asia and Europe. The festival will be jointly organised by the tourism, forests and wildlife departments with the support of non-governmental organisations. “The date of the festival is still being decided,” a senior tourism officer said.

Some of the bird species found in Kashmir are the monal, jungle bush quail, shikra, Himalayan bulbul, tragopan, common Kingfisher, blue whistling thrush, common moorhen, koklass pheasant, little grebe, Himalayan woodpecker, tundra swan, great tit, black kite, mallards, greylag geese, pochards, common tails, shovelers, and pintails. Pawanjit Singh, a bird watcher, says the Valley’s waterbodies and forests are perfect for birdwatching. “The opening of these sites to tourists may encourage locals to take up the hobby as well.”

Special spots have been earmarked at several water bodies for bird watching.

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