Birds Bonanza


Photo Courtesy – Times Of India 


Taking wings to save wildlife

Shah left studies to learn animal, bird rescue in SA

About a year ago, if a person in Kalipat Village, Rajkot, Gujarat, saw a snake he would kill it immediately. But thanks to the efforts of 22-year old Divyaraj Shah from the village, now nobody even harms the snake or any other wildlife.

Now, if they see a snake, villagers call Shah who rescues it and releases it in the wild.

“On an average, I rescue 10 snakes every month from Kalipat Village ( Rajkot, Gujarat ) alone,” says Divyaraj who has dedicated his life for protection of wildlife.

In fact, Shah left his studies mid-way while pursuing graduation from St. Xavier’s College in Ahmedabad in 2010-11. He went to South Africa to learn about wildlife and their rescue and rehabilitation processes. He stayed there for 10 months in the outskirts of Pretoria and learnt to deal with birds, wild animals and how to release them in the wild.

“I went to South Africa because I wanted to work for wildlife conversation. It is important to learn scientific methods to rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife. There is a huge difference in dealing with domestic birds and wild birds. It is difficult for rescued birds to adjust again in the wild,” says Shah.

He also advocated rescue of the birds in captivity.

A local charitable trust in city rescue wild birds and hand over them to Shah for rehabilitation. The birds which are being rehabilitated include Barn Owl, Shikra, Black Kite, Black Shouldered Kite, Short toed Snake Eagle, spotted owlet, egrets and ducks.

“In Gujarat, rescue efforts are commendable but there is a lack of knowledge about what to do with the rescued birds. A week ago, a barn owl was rescued near city. A volunteer who rescued it gave anti-rabbis injection and wild bird died immediately,” Shah said describing the lack of awareness among wildlife volunteers.

Shah even found a solution to rat menace in Kalipat ( Rajkot, Gujarat ). He gave villagers cages to catch the rats, which are then fed to the rescued snakes by Shah. “Since I give snakes their natural food, they survive in captivity and then I release them in wild,” the wildlife enthusiast said.

“Villagers and farmers are happy as the problem of rats has been reduced significantly,” he added.

Shah has successfully released over 300 birds in the wild. Now, he plans to set up an ICU for birds at his eight acre farm on outskirts of the city.

Courtesy – Times of India

Rare Masked Booby spotted near Mahuva ( Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Gujarat, India )

The bird is usually found in tropical zones

Manoj Sanghediya, a 23-year old amateur bird watcher from Datardi Village in Mahuva taluka of Bhavnagar District ( Rajkot, Gujarat, India ), could not identify the large seabird that had fallen in his farm on Saturday.

But he was quick to rescue the sick bird that was unable to fly and take it to Mahuva Town. An environment activist, he often rescues snakes in his village.

masked booby in Mahuva

The bird that he rescued was Masked Booby, a large bird found in tropical zones of theoceans.

“When the Masked Booby was brought on Saturday, it was sick and exhausted. We contacted, Dr. Nayan Patel, a veterinary doctor, who earlier worked with forest department in Mahuva advised us to give glucose to it. We tried to save the rare visitor but it died on Tuesday evening”, said a wildlife activist from Mahuva Chirag Koradiya.

Bird conservationists say that the Masked Booby may have been exhausted and landed in the coastal area in a sick condition. It nests on small tropical islands especially without forests. It breeds in central and western pacific as well as off Mexico.

According to experts, Masked Booby are spectacular divers that can plunge diagonally into the ocean at high speeds. They mainly eat small fish.

“This could be the third time that a Masked Booby was reported to be seen on the Saurashtra coast,” Koradiya said.

Courtesy – Times Of India 

Ahmedabad has 160 bird species

The ornithologists as a part of the animal Bird Race event organized jointly by Natural Heritage Conservation Society ( NHCS ) – Gandhinagar and international bank identified only 160 bird species in and around Ahmedabad city.


Last year the same even had identified over 260 bird species. This was the seventh time such an event was held in Ahmedabad in which around 140 participated in group of 40 teams. More than 160 species of bird were recorded during around the city.

Each team spent its entire day watching birds in and around Ahmedabad with their own tally of species. Earlier bird races in Ahmedabad have recorded more than 260 species of birds. These teams moved around at a critical point on the avifaunal migration route, and flanked by a vast landscape of open habitats, from agricultural tracts to semi –arid landscapes, inland wetlands and secondary growth, and area with human population.

There were no pre – determined routes to the Bird Race – participants observed the birds at multiple locations all within 30 – 40 km radius of the city. According to Virag Vya, a research coordinator NHCS, Ecologists Irshad Theba and Bharat Jethva during the race the team identified rare species which included White Stork, Short – eared Owl, Red Avadavat ( Red Munia ), Booted eagle were sighted by different teams.


The coordinators said that the programme helped to create awareness and conservation ethos among the citizens. The participants were also sensitized towards the bird injuries during Uttarayan.

Courtesy:- Times Of India

Dholera ( Gujarat, India ) SIR ( Special Investment Region ): Campaign to save Bhal ( Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India ) ecology launched

Wildlife activities from Saurashtra opposing the proposed Dholera Special Investment Region ( DSIR ) project have undertaken a letter writing campaign, raising concerns about the threat propsed to the ecology and biodiversity of Bhal region.

Chill out for Bird Watchers

They are posting letters to top shots in Union environment ministry, Ahmedabad collector, officials of environment and forest department in Gujarat and prominent wildlife conservationists across Indian raising their concerns.

Last week, Gujarat Pollution Control Board ( GPCB ) and Ahmedabad district collectorate held a public hearing on environmental impact assessment on the proposed DSIR. The site for the proposed DSIR is a rural area of approximately 920 square kilometers, comprising 19 villages of Dhandhuka taluka and three villages of Barwala taluka in Ahmedabad District.

“the areas where DSIR is proposed is unique grassland having rich bio diversity. The proposed DSIR is just 600 meters away from the Blackbuck National Park, which is a habitat of endangered species like lesser floricans, harriers, wolves and hyenas among others. The highest density of wolves in the country is in Bhal area. Moreover, the Blackbuck National Park in Velavadar is world’s largest roosting site for harriers. Out of 16 harrier species in the worl, at least four species of Montagu, Pallid, Eurasian Marsk and Hen are found here. All these aspects need to be takes care of. Hence, we are writing to the concerned authorities,” president of Dharamkumarsinhji Nature Conservation society in Bhavnagar Dr IR Gadhvi said.

He added that Bhal is of the 17 important bird areas in the state indentified by Indian Bird Conservation Network besides being the largest breeding ground for lesser floricans.

Activists claim that the ecological zones of Blackbuck National Park and proposed DSIR over lap at places which is very worrying.

“All wildlife conservationists and environment activists from the state are concerned over the adverse impact the DSIR will have on Bhal region, which is the wheat bowl of Gujarat. We want that this project should not be cleared without addressing these concerns. We will also write to National Wildlife Board for its intervention,” a wildlife activist from Bhavnagar Shrenik Shah said.

Courtesy:- Times of India

3 bird species in state still under threat

Are on IUCN’s ( International Union for Conservation of Nature ) latest red list of 15 most Endangered Indian Avian s

The latest ‘red list’ of endangered bird species released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature ( IUCN ) includes 15 Indian bird species, three of which are found mainly in Gujarat. These include the Great Indian Bustard, the Indian Vulture and Siberian Cranes. All three are in the ‘critically endangered’ ( CR ) category.


Several migratory birds that come to Thol and Nalsarovar ( Gujarat ) have also been listed in the ‘vulnerable’ and ‘nearly threatened’ bird species.

Officials said the IUCN red list is the list on the basis of which several countries and states form their strategies for conversation of birds.

Officials said that the ‘International Union for Conversation of Nature Red List of Birds – 2013’ shows that 15 birds species in India continue to be in the ‘critically endangered’ category. Of these, three bird species are now in greater danger than before.

The decline in the population of these species is because of the growing human interference in areas where bird nesting and colonies exist, said the officials.

Studies by the Bombay Natural History Society ( BNHS ) and other organizations, including Wildlife Institute of India, of factors most responsible for the failing numbers of several bird species reveal that like wetlands, most other habitats such as grasslands and forests, also face severe threat due to development pressures.


The drastic loss of grassland habitat over the past decades has severely threatened species such as the Great Indian Bustard, Siberian Crane, Bengal Florican and Jerdon’s courser.

While the extensive use of diclofenac by farmers for treatment of their cattle, had led to the fall in the number of Indian Vultures, the destruction of deciduous forest had lead to the decline in the numbers of Forest owlets. The presence of chemicals in the carcass of animals on which scavenging birds feed has affected their population adversely.

BNHS – India Director, Dr. Asad Rahmani, said that on the basis of insightful scientific field research, there is an urgent need to conserve the remaining habitats and the species dependent on them.

“Policies that ensure this through sustainable development should be framed and implemented at the earliest,” Rahmani said.


Flying Away

Critically endangered species: This category in India includes migratory birds.

Wetlands species: Baer’s Pochard, Siberian crane and Spoon – billed sandpiper

Grassland Species: Bengal Florican, Great Indian Bustard, Jerdon’s courser and Sociable lapwing.

Scavengers: Indian Vulture, Red – headed vulture, White – backed vulture, Slender – billed vulture, Himaliyan quail & Pink – headed duck

Non – migratory wetland species : White – bellied heron

Forest Species: Forest owlet

Courtesy:- Times of India 


Great India plan for Bustard

A recovery strategy will be drawn up

Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had directed Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to have state – level recovery plans for the great Indian Bustard.

Gujarat principal chief conservator of Forests C.N. Pandey said, “We had met experts recently and have now prepared a draft report, which has been approved and is in the final stages”.


The MoEF had directed all bustard range stages to prepare state – level recovery plans to conserve the species. The proposed plan will aim at long – term conservation of both bustard species in Kutch in Gujarat. With this state-level initiative, it is expected that the conservation of and habitat restoration of Great Indian Bustard (GIB) will get a boost.

Officials in the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) said many vital and bio-diverse habitats such as grasslands and species inhabiting the Great Indian Bustard continue to remain neglected.

Officials said grasslands have been threatened for long from rising human pressures on the habitat, indiscriminate grazing outside traditional grounds, poaching, urbanization and several other factors. Several flagship grassland species of birds and animals including GIB, Lesser florican, chinkara, fox and wolf have been affected in various parts of their former range including Kutch (Gujarat, India). According, to BNHS, the Great Indian Bustard are found in six states in India currently and have populations of GIB and Lesser Florican in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. In case of Madhya Pradesh, at present there are two sanctuaries for GIB and two for Lesser florican. In Maharashtra, the few remaining GIB are to be found at some locations in districts such as Solapur and Chandrapur. The situation in other Bustard range including Gujarat is also a cause of concern.

It is worth recalling that experts involved in the conservation of GIB had meet chief minister Narendra Modi and urged him to act and take measures to conserve the bird. According to experts GIB is facing threat through the reduction in the extent of undisturbed arid and grassland habitat, degradation and disturbance to existing habitat, hunting, lack of protection for many traditional “lekking” and nesting sites, lack natural grassland conservation in management and policy. Apart, from these issues there is lack of cooperation between departments and stakeholders in GIB habitats. Livestock overgrazing and disturbance by tourists and photographers, especially during the breeding season, have led to the reduction in the bird’s number.

 Courtesy: – Times of India  

Six – year wait ends, bustards to be counted this month

A census of the Great Indian Bustard will be held this month and officials of the state forest department are getting ready for this important exercise.


According to forest officials, the 2007 census had shown that there were 48 of these Bustards in Gujarat but data collected by other nature societies had reveled their population to be less than 30. Hence, all eyes are now on this census which is taking place after six years.  The officials said that the ‘direct sighting method’ will be adopted for the census in the Kutch Region ( Gujarat, India ) where the bustard is found.

This largest flying bird in the world is spotted mainly in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. Some birds are also found in Pakistan, mainly in summer.

Officials said that a meeting of villagers and forest officials will be held to finalize the programme for the census. Separate teams will be set up and posted in pockets where sightseeing has been reported.

The census will be conducted in two phases – the first will be the primary round and the second will be the main final round. Officials said that according to the union ministry of forests and environment, the bird faces several threats to its existence, including threats from the rapid development of infrastructure taking place in Kutch (Gujarat). Domestic and stray animals are also among the major threats affecting conversation efforts for the bird.

Apart from these, collision with high tension electric wires, fast moving vehicles and other man-made structures continue to be a threat in the Industrial development zones near bustard inhabited areas. Deaths of Great Indian Bustard have been reported frequently from Kutch in Gujarat and Solapur in Maharashtra.

For the bird’s conversation, the Union ministry had asked the state government to undertake scientific studies of seasonal movements of bustards and their lifecycles, regular patrolling of bustard territories and setting up of local networks to monitor the fencing around core bustard areas. Removal of dogs and other nest predators with the help of the veterinary department has also been suggested.

It was in 2005 that Dr. Bharat Pathak, currently director of Gujarat Ecological Education and Research ( GEER ) Foundation had rushed to Velavadar Blackbuck National Park in Bhavnagar ( Gujarat, India ). He had heard of a bustard sighting there.

Courtesy: – Times of India. 

4th Global Bird Watchers’ Conference from January 31, 2014

The 4th Global Bird Watchers’ Conference, the annual event of Gujarat tourism department in coordination with forest department will be held for three days, from January 31.

To put water bodies in the state on the international map and attract tourists, Gujarat Tourism Department in association with various organization began this event in 2009-10 and it has become a regular event.

Officials said Gujarat is emerging as an eco-tourism destination; being host to wide range of pristine and hitherto unexplored destinations for nature lovers. The conference will not only showcase the destinations of Gujarat; but discussions will also be held on how to preserve these winged visitors who are facing many threats.

Officials said the objectives of the fourth conference were to promote Gujarat as a birding destination and project it as a eco-tourism destination. The conference aims to provide a platform for discussion by international experts on birds, birding and bird watching to promote tourism and conversation.

Also, the conference will discuss on the migratory route of birds from Europe and West Asia to the coasts, wetlands and islands in Gujarat. Officials said, that this time, the focus is likely to be Nal-Sarovar and nearby areas as the water body was recently declared a Ramsar site.

For Details contact, 00-91-281-2465237 || 00-91-281-2483878

48 lesser floricans counted at Black Buck National Park

Velavadar Grassland is an Ideal Habitat for their Breeding

The forest department has counted 48 lesser floricans, the critically endangered smallest bustards od the world. In Velavadar Blackbuck National Park (BNP) in Bhavnagar district. The counting was done on Saturday and Sunday.


According to assistant conservator of forests, BNP, D.P. Baghela, of the 48, 44 were males and four were females. Forest officials said BNP is the only grassland in north western Indian that has observed a steady population of lesser florican. Last year, 54 were counted here.

“This year we first spotted lesser floricans in first week of July. This grassland provides an ideal habitat for lesser floricans for breeding during monsoon and started leaving before winter,” Vaghela added.


Lesser florican is endemic to the Indian subcontinent and list under Schedule 1 species under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
“Degradation of grasslands in Gondal, Rajkot and Jamnagar earlier attracted lesser floricans. But they are seldom seemed here. Velavadar National Park is the only grassland in north western Indian where floricans are reported in good number, largely due to better grassland management and protection,” he said.Forest officials said earlier, lesser floricans were found in many parts of the region, but now these birds are found at very few places in the state.

Two years ago, researcher G.S. Bharadwaj of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) carried out a study on lesser floricans from across the country. They study observed that most of the potential florican habitat in the state were converted into cotton fields where large quantities of pesticides are being used, the greatest threat to floricans here.

“Lesser florican is best known for the leaping breeding displays by males during the monsoon,” an official said.

Courtesy:- Times Of India. 

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: