Uttar Pradesh: A birding paradise
One of the richest states in terms of its variety of bird life, Uttar Pradesh is home to over 500 species of birds. Many of these species, like the Slender Billed Vulture, Bengal Florican, Black Necked stork etc., categorized as globally threatened and near threatened, find ideal habitat conditions in the state.
Given its unique natural resources, several migratory birds from regions like Europe, Siberia, Tibet and China find home in Uttar Pradesh between the months of October and February. Avian species are found in abundance in the lakes, wetlands and even agricultural fields of the state. With a view to encourage national and international tourism, the state has three major “Bird circuits“. Further, celebrating this fact, the state has been holding its Bird festival each year since the last 3 years.
Bird Festival 2018
The third edition of the Uttar Pradesh was held between 9-11 February at the Dudhwa National Park, in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh. Dudhwa is one among the best natural forests left in the Terai region of the state and has a kaleidoscope of dense forests, muddy marshes and emerald grasslands. The three-day fest that was jointly organised by the UP forest department, UP eco-tourism department and FICCI, saw bird lovers and wild life enthusiasts from across the globe participate. A large stretch in Kheri was transformed into a “Florican” village replete with tents, stalls and other arrangements for the event.
The festival was inaugurated by the hononorable chief minister of the state Yogi Adityanath. Other eminent guests included birdwatcher Tim Appleton from Britain, wildlife expert Mike Pandey and former director of Bombay Natural Historical Society Asad Rehmani.
Eco-tourism, environment, employment
The objective of the festival was to showcase the rich natural heritage of Dudhwa and promote ecotourism in the national park. While a coffee table book on Dudhwa was released by the Chief Minister, the importance of involving local communities for the purpose of environment protection and promoting tourism was also highlighted.
Several plans for the upliftment of the surrounding tribal villages including the Tharu community were announced with a view to generate employment while promoting tourism in the destination.
Activites galore and Insightful Knowledge sharing sessions
As part of the festival, there were several stalls showcasing the arts and crafts of the local communities apart from having a photo exhibition of birds. School children participated in large numbers and a painting competition was organized for them.
The sessions pertaining to the conservation of vultures in the rocky Palarapu cliffs in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh as well as the one related to the perceptions associated with owls were eye opening.
A taste of Dudhwa
Safaris in the forest of Dudhwa were organized for the delegates which was a treat for all nature lovers. A typical representative of the Terai ecosystem, the national park covers a whopping area of close to 500 sq km along the Indo-Nepal border in Kheri district. Its heterogenous landscape makes it a utopia for rare and migratory species of birds.
Dudhwa is home to over 350 species of birds apart from the Bengal tiger, one horned Rhino and the rare swamp deer (Barasingha). The Hornbill, Red jungle fowl, Serpent-eagle, Bengal Florican, Orioles and Parakeets are some of the many avian wonders in this forest.