Festival on conservation of winged species, bird census at Kaziranga Park

The bird count will take place at more than 100 identified wetlands in the Eastern Assam, Nagaon, and Biswanath wildlife divisions of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR). Photo: iStock/:ePhotocorp

Golaghat: A festival on the conservation of winged species was held at Kaziranga National Park in Assam in the past two days. The fifth census of migratory birds has also begun at the park, meanwhile. The programmes are undertaken with the participation of hundreds of enumerators, students, and volunteers, a senior official said on Wednesday. The festival, which started on Tuesday, celebrated the avian diversity, conservation efforts, and the collective excitement of bird enthusiasts, enumerators, and volunteers from diverse backgrounds, Kaziranga National Park Field Director Sonali Ghosh told PTI

"The bird count will take place at more than 100 identified wetlands in the Eastern Assam, Nagaon, and Biswanath wildlife divisions of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR)," she added. Assam Environment and Forest Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary inaugurated the Bird Conservation Festival at the UNESCO World Heritage Site on Tuesday.

Talking about the methodology of the 5th Migratory Bird Census, the official said it is a combination of science and conservation outreach as it aims at sensitising college students and forest frontline staffers to bird identification. "Support of ornithologists, scientists, researchers, and forest officers is being taken for the overall enumeration. As a sampling strategy, all wetlands above 10 hectares and within 1 km of the buffer of KNPTR boundary have been selected for the enumeration," Ghosh added.

Certain wetlands of importance but smaller in area have also been selected. The enumeration in the core area is being exclusively carried out by forest frontline staffers, she said, adding that student volunteers are encouraged to participate in the buffer and tourism zone. For each wetland, one enumerator and three volunteers have been assigned the responsibility for the count. Kit bags, comprising binoculars, spotting scope and datasheets, have been provided by the park authorities, Ghosh said.

In the Eastern Assam Wildlife Division, 53 enumerators are engaged for 71 wetlands. At the Nagaon Wildlife Division, 23 are surveying 22 wetlands, while 31 have been conducting the exercise for 25 wetlands of the Biswanath Wildlife Division, she added. During the 4th enumeration in 2021-22, 66,776 wetbirds were spotted in KNPTR, the field director stated.

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Rhinos at the Kaziranga National Park. Photo: PTI

The two-day festival aimed at highlighting the rich avifauna of the region with the participation of enumerators hailing from various corners of the state, she added. "These passionate individuals, armed with binoculars and an unwavering commitment to ornithology, will engage in a comprehensive bird census, contributing significantly to our understanding and conservation of these magnificent winged creatures," Ghosh said. 

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