The serene atmosphere combined with the quite and calm greenery has always invited thousands of birds to India. Racquet Tailed Drogas, Sun Birds, Kingfishers, Tree Pies Jungle Owlets, Mynas, Pipits, Larks, Siberia Crane and Drogas are among the popular bird species found in India. Dr Asad Rahmani, Director of Bombay Natural History Society has observed that it is time to take immediate steps to save endangered birds.

K. Venkateshwarlu has characterized the Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan as well known all over the world for its huge assemblage of waterfowl, nesting colonies of storks, egrets, ibises, herons, darter and cormorants, and, the only site in India for the migratory Siberian Crane.

The Birdlife International and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have listed 12 species in India as ‘critically endangered’ (the highest and immediate risk of extinction). These are in dire need of a ‘conservation ICU (intensive care unit)’.

It is unfortunate for a country like India whose culture has always given respect to birds that even the declared Bird Sanctuaries are under unrelenting siege. To deal with such an alarming situation, Birdlife International has developed new technique to identify Important Bird Areas (IBAs) which would spotlight on areas important for bird conservation, regardless of whether or not these areas are under legal protection. The protected areas established by the Government include Biosphere Reserves, Ramsar sites, National Parks and Sanctuaries.

Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, North Goa is among the best place to spot colourful birds and is named after India’s famous ornithologist, Sir Salim Ali. The Chilka Lake Bird Sanctuary in Orissa is mostly known for are Eagle, Geese and Flamingoes. 900,000 migratory birds of 158 different species were sighted above Chilka Lake , which 64 kms in length . Waterfowl comprises the largest category of migratory birds found in Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary Gujarat. Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Kerala gives shelter to migratory birds like Siberian Stork and crane, flycatcher, teal, parrots, wood beetle. Ranganthittu Bird sanctuary Karnataka was established in 1940 and is a destination for exotic birds including cormorants, egret, heron, partridge, river tern, stone plougher,snake bird etc. Keoladeo Ghana National Park (Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary) is a Ramsar site under the Ramsar Convention, and also a World Heritage site. Sambhar Salt Lake near Jaipur is the breeding ground for Flamingos- tall, dainty creatures. Assan Barrage, about 40 kms from Dehradun is full by robust flocks of local migrants like Painted Stork, Open Billed Stork, Night Heron.

Bombay Natural History Society, is working to save the birds from extinction. But by use of ‘diclofenac’ given to the cattle to relieve pain and inflammation, million vultures have died. ‘Son Chiriya’,found in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh is on the verge of extinction and its current population is estimated at less than 1,000 as per report of forest authorities in sptember,2008.

The present situation requires efforts of Government, NGOs and general public. We must not forget that birds are not only heritage but also form in which we worship Lord. Let’s get awakened with the thought that we will protect every bird who needs shelter, food and protection as far as possible for us. It becomes our duty to help India continue as best destination for birds viewing.

Bhumika Sharma

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