WWF-India joins Uttarakhand Forest Department to celebrate the IInd Spring Bird Festival

Posted on
11 February 2015
Dehradun, Uttarakhand: Last week, the Forest Department of Uttarakhand and a host of other bird and wildlife protection organisations including WWF-India, celebrated the state’s second Spring Bird Festival at the Pawalgarh Conservation Reserve of Nainital District. Organized by the Eco-Tourism wing of the Forest Department, the Spring Bird Festival is an occasion for bird-watchers and conservationists to revel in the vast wealth of avifauna that lives in the tiny northern state of Uttarakhand.
 
The five-day festival, Feb.4-8, 2015, was packed with bird-watching activities, and ecotourism workshops. Special attention was taken to organize guided bird-watching treks for school students— a rewarding experience in the Terai Arc Landscape’s Pawalgarh Conservation Reserve, which is home to at least 350 species of birds. A major partner in these events, WWF-India helped arrange treks for over 160 students from around the state. WWF-India’s Programme Director, Dr. Sejal Worah facilitated a workshop and presented recommendations on developing Uttarakhand as a national and international birding destination at the inauguration of the festival. It was well-received, and Mr. Rajiv Bhartari, Chief Conservator of Forest, Ecotourism, Uttarakhand, said, “We are grateful to WWF for their support which enabled us to conduct an outreach program, and improve the meaningfulness of the Destination Development (To Promote Rural Tourism) workshop."
 
This festival also saw Mr. Dinesh Aggarwal, Honourable Forest Minister of Uttarakhand, releasing the WWF report on the importance of the Nihal-Bhakhra corridor between Ramnagar and Terai Central for long-term tiger conservation: Monitoring of Tigers in Nihal-Bhakhra Corridor.
 
Famous actor, thespian and wildlifer at heart, Tom Alter, was invited to the festival to address a large crowd of 450 students in an activity children enjoy most—listening to stories. Alter used his talents to enthrall the students in the magnificent wild beauty of Pawalgarh through the stories of Jim Corbett, who once lived here and wrote stories set in the region. WWF helped coordinate with neighbouring schools to involve these students in the event.

Uttarakhand may be one-sixtieth the size of India, but it is home to more than half of the 1303 bird species recorded in the country. Of these, 39 species are listed as globally threatened  according to the IUCN Red List. Hence, while it’s important to celebrate this wealth, it is even more crucial to draw attention to the need to protect it. For this reason, the Eco-Tourism wing of the Uttarakhand Forest Department launched the Spring Bird Festival in the state in 2014. They have also made arrangements for a series of bird-watching camps in 18 destinations spread across six national parks, seven wildlife sanctuaries and three conservation reserves in the state
WWF-India is proud to partner with the IInd Uttarakhand Spring Bird Festival. Dr. Sejal Worah, Programme Director, WWF India said, “We strongly support the Uttarakhand Forest Department's endeavours to engage people from all walks of life in this important sustainable tourism initiative which will help to conserve the rich biodiversity of the state while providing livelihood opportunities to communities."

Additional resources:
Uttarakhand Spring Bird Festival website.
An Updated Checklist of the Birds of Uttarakhand
Birds of Uttarakhand: Flickr
http://avibase.bsc-eoc.org/checklist.jsp?region=inwhuk&list=clements

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