Indian Birding Fairs are organised by us as an annual event. Each Birding Fair has highlighted a critical conservation issue of the day and been dedicated to an endangered species or a threatened habitat or a worthy conservation cause, and given momentum to campaigns for positive change.
The venue for the Fairs – the historic and scenic Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur – itself has been of long-standing conservation concern. This Group has the distinction of leading major Lake Conservation initiative at Man Sagar by holding annual Birding Fairs on its picturesque embankment. The Fairs, which are similar to the British Bird Watching Fairs at Rutland Water, attract thousands of visitors including school children.
The 11th Birding Fair was devoted to the plight of the Bustard species. Working through Tourism & Wildlife Society of India (TWSI) and in association with some noted Indian and overseas conservation Groups and individual experts, this Group was singularly responsible for saving the Bustard species from the illegal falconry being practiced by the Arab Sheiks in Indian deserts in 1978-79. This was achieved through public protest and injunction by the Rajasthan High Court. It led to the first ever International Symposium on Bustards (ISOB, Jaipur, 1980), and a comprehensive Bustard conservation programme all over India. There are four species of Indian Bustard : Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps), Lesser Florican (Sepheotides indica), Bengal Florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis), and Houbara (Clamydotis unduata). Of these, the first three are resident species in India while the fourth is migratory. Such an initiative is unique and of historic significance in the context of conservation movement in India.
The 8th Birding Fair was dedicated to the protection of the Keoladeo National Park (Bharatpur, India), which is Unesco Heritage and Ramsar site of unique biodiversity in the world. This Group worked in collaboration with the International Crane Foundation for satellite transmitter experiments on Siberian Cranes, which used to over-winter in the Park (until 2002). It filed a petition in the Indian Supreme Court’s Centrally Empowered Committee to demand release of flowing water (5,50 million cubic feet ie mcft) to this Park from Gambhiri river, whose flow was stopped owing to the construction of Panchana Dam upstream (2003-2007). This stoppage of water had severe negative impact on the aquatic ecology of this 29 square kilometer Park.
This Group has worked relentlessly towards restoring the Park to its former glory and raised this issue with the Government of Rajasthan. It succeeded in getting a new canal constructed within the Keoladeo Park (2007) to augment the additional flowing water (100 mcft) from the monsoon waste. As a final attempt, it has engaged the Government to provide the requisite quantity of flowing water to this Park through a 17 kilometer long pipeline from the Goverdhan drain source.
The campaign to save Keoladeo Park was also a peoples’ movement, as it affected the livelihoods of Bird Guides, Rickshaw Pullers and others dependent on the Park. This Group supported them publicly in their demonstrations at the Park gate and at a public rally at Jaipur’s Albert Hall, which was also joined by thousands of students, teachers and parents. Keoladeo means a lot to Birdwatchers worldwide, and also to thousands of villagers living around the periphery of the Park. It is one of the most visitor friendly Parks in India; nearly 200 Bird Guides have come up from neighboring villages and achieved distinction.
The 9th Birding Fair campaigned for the expansion of Tiger Parks in India by way of re-establishing the lost corridors among different forest blocks. This Group has supported Tiger conservation through eco-tourism and emphasized the importance of providing benefits to stake holders eg providing uniforms to Park staff. A petition to this effect was made in the High Court of Rajasthan, to improve the management f Ranthambhor Tiger Park, see its judgement.
The 16th Birding Fair was dedicated to Urban Lakes' conservation.
The House Sparrow conservation initiative has been made.
The 3rd Birding Fair was dedicated
to Vulture conservation and this Group led
the initiative in India (1999-2007) by organising a census of the species through the daily newspaper, Rajasthan Patrika. Reports of both can be seen.