Not just tigers, look at birds too | india | Hindustan Times
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Not just tigers, look at birds too

Did you know that the yellow-legged green pigeon is Maharashtra’s state bird? Most of us don’t, and the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) is working to improve that state of affairs.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2009 00:44 IST

Did you know that the yellow-legged green pigeon is Maharashtra’s state bird? Most of us don’t, and the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) is working to improve that state of affairs.

“There are hundreds of rare and common bird species in the country. It’s time we moved beyond tigers and rhinos,” said Dr Asad Rahmani, director, BNHS.

For chartered accountant Bhaskar Sohoni (31), a three-day tour to spot tigers at Tadoba Tiger Reserve near Nagpur, opened up a whole new world of bird species.

“I was fascinated by the sheer range of rare birds there,” he said.
BNHS is now training tour guides at wildlife sanctuaries to make “tiger-obsessed” tourists more aware of the country’s gallery of birds.

He explained how bird tourism would not only help in the conservation of their habitat, but also open a substantial revenue stream for local tour guides.

“Thousands of foreign tourists are waiting to come to Indian sanctuaries but we simply don’t have enough guides to show them around,” said Rahmani.

The BNHS project is introducing unlikely bird lovers like Sohoni to a range of species including Indian Rollers, Blue Monarchs, kingfishers and the Great Indian Bustard.

The month-old initiative has trained over 50 tour guides across the country. Pradeep Bagdekar (51), a fashion photographer-turned-birdwatcher, knew Tadoba only for its tigers.

On a recent trip there, he discovered the dense forest was also home to hundreds of rare birds.

“I saw 130 common and rare species,” said the Thane resident. “Most tourists come here to spot tigers, but increasing awareness of rare birds is now creating fresh interest.”

There are many places in and around the city with the potential to be developed as attractive birdwatching locations — like the Sewri mudflats, where the world’s largest number of flamingos converge every winter.

“They are also seen in Africa but in extremely remote areas; nowhere in the world do they have a flamingo sighting as beautiful as the one at Sewri,” said Rahmani.

“All we need to do is clean up the place and have volunteers to tell people about the birds.