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| Last Updated:: 26/11/2015

Counting on conservation





The Salim Ali Bird Count once again underscores the need to curb habitat destruction — with one critically endangered and four endangered avian species spotted across the country

The recent Salim Ali Bird Count conducted ten days ago has spotted one critically endangered and four endangered species across the country. The findings have once again brought home the need to stop habitat destruction and protect important bird areas in order to conserve these species. The White-rumped Vulture was the only bird spotted from the critically endangered category, while four birds — Black-bellied Tern, Egyptian Vulture, Great Knot and Steppe Eagle — were marked from the endangered category.

"The Salim Ali Bird Count is one initiative that connects every common man walking on the street to the world of birds. This presents an opportunity to not only involve locals in birdwatching, but also make them ambassadors. We are aiming to scale it up further to a pan-India level through our existing network," said Dr Deepak Apte, director of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), who revived this count, which had come to a standstill around two decades ago.

Birders from 22 states covering 99 districts of India participated in the count. Maharashtra ranked first with a total of 123 lists, followed by Kerala with 59 lists and Karnataka and Tamil Nadu with 40 lists each. "Indian ornithology needs the help of each and every bird-watcher based in the remotest locations of the country. If everyone contributes their observations on citizen science forums like eBird, we will have a good understanding of the temporal and spatial distribution of birds found in India in the coming years. Slowly, we will get an idea of the impact of climate change and other factors on the birds in India. The count will now be organised every year to encourage bird-watching and spread awareness," informed Dr Raju Kasambe, Important Bird Area programme manager at BNHS.

As for Pune, Siddhesh Bramhankar, the administrator of Birds of Pune which keeps track of bird observations, said, "The White-rumped Vulture and Steppe Eagle have declined mostly due to diclofenac. Before the carcasses are dumped, they should be tested for traces of the drug. Also, their nesting colonies come under threat owing to hill cutting for big projects. One such example is of Garudmachi near Pune."



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