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Uttar Pradesh Bird Festival 2018: a grand success and a boost for ecotourism

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Uttar Pradesh: a haven for bird lovers

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.

The rich natural landscapes in Uttar Pradesh
The rich natural landscapes in Uttar Pradesh

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

Uttar Pradesh Bird Festival 2018
Uttar Pradesh 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.

Arrangements at the 3rd edition of the UP Bird Festival
Arrangements at the 3rd edition of the UP Bird Festival

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.

Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Yogi Adityanath at the festival
Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Yogi Adityanath at the festival

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.

Coffee table book release at the festival
Coffee table book release at the festival

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.

Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Yogi Adityanath speaking at the festival
Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Yogi Adityanath speaking at the festival

Forest officials were urged to empower tribals by imparting appropriate training. Plans to promote native Tharu handicrafts and provide a market for their products was also discussed.

Showcase of native handicrafts by the local community
Showcase of native handicrafts by the local community

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.

Bird paintings by school children
Bird paintings by school children

Avian experts held several interesting presentations on varied topics including the evolution of birding in India, importance of the online database ‘e-bird’ and even star gazing.

Technical sessions by experts at the festival
Technical sessions by experts at the festival

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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 National Park
Dudhwa National Park

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.

Indian serpent eagle at Dudhwa National Park
Indian serpent eagle at Dudhwa National Park

Disclaimer: This post was made possible by UP Tourism, opinions, as always are my own.

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