20th Birding Fair in Jaipur

3 th 20 Birding Fair T he T ourism and W ildlife Society of India (TWSI) was launched nearly four decades ago and its initial focus was to campaign for the protection of the unique wild fauna and flora of the desert region in Rajasthan. The campaign gained momentum and the government had to impose a ban on the hunting of bustard species. In due course, the Great Indian Bustard was adopted as the State Bird of Rajasthan and the TWSI rightly created its logo on the same bird. Moving forward and logically, wild habitats also became the concern of TWSI and special attention has been devoted, over the years, to threatened habitats, including wetlands. A significant initiative in this direction has been the pioneering work undertaken for restoring the historic Mansagar lake near Jaipur city as a waterfowl habitat. The initiative was kick-started in 1996-97 by or ganizing a birding fair at the lake site. Since then, there has been no looking back and in the past nineteen years the TWSI has or ganized every year the fair at the same site with remarkable success, so much so that the event is even characterised as a Citizens’ Initiative. The birding th fair this year in February 2017 is the 20 such event and marks a very significant milestone for the TWSI and all others who have collaborated and helped, over the years, in accomplishing this feat. In terms of sheer consistency as well as outreach and impact, there is no other example elsewhere in India. It is noteworthy that each birding fair so far has been dedicated to a nature conservation theme, mostly relating to threatened species or habitats. This time the theme chosen is Fair Approach to Conservation, which seems appropriate considering the accomplishment mentioned above. The very idea of or ganizing a birding fair to promote bird watching and nature conservation was untried and novel in India two decades ago. TWSI took the bold first step in this direction and has, by now, undoubtedly established the ef ficacy of this approach, a p a r t f r o m m o b i l i z i n g e f f o r t s t o b r i n g a b o u t m u c h needed ecological restoration of the wetland as well as succeeding in creating a conservation constituency in the state capital. Besides, in some ways, this annual event at J a i p u r h a s i n s p i r e d b i r d i n g f a i r s i n o t h e r p l a c e s i n Rajasthan and elsewhere, which further endorses the fair a p p r o a c h t o p r o m o t e b i r d w a t c h i n g a n d n a t u r e conservation.

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