Citizen Science

Bird Clubs in India

Bird Clubs in India
-Susan Sharma

When Bird Clubs started in India, they were generally seen as hobby clubs for the well to do.  Who else would drive miles every Sunday with expensive cameras and binoculars to click bird photographs?

May be the Clubs started elite but they have now evolved into activist groups and think tanks for environment looking for contributing positively to save the environment.  Birds and wildlife are not vote banks which put them in an area of least concern. Ministries and Departments meant to work towards wildlife conservation often are not sure how to view these citizen clubs which want to do good without any personal agenda.

Delhi Bird Club

Delhi bird is 67 years old!

"We are an interactive egroup which exists to share information about birds in Northern India and the issues that affect them. We seek to help and encourage newcomers to the study of birds and enable birdwatching visitors and short-term residents to meet fellow enthusiasts who live in India.

We use the group to collect and collate valuable bird records from Northern India and to discuss unusual sightings and other identification issues." reads the vision document in the Delhi Bird yahoo group 

The group is supported by regular field outings in the Delhi area and stimulating talks in the Habitat Centre, WWf India etc. in New Delhi. Their website http://www.delhibird.net provides the documentation for recent sightings, site and conservation information and identification tips to be presented and consulted by members. 

Active members of Delhi Bird have been filing PILs in court when bird areas faced threats.  A case in point is when the Noida Authority was directed to disburse the project cost of revamp and overhaul of the Okhla Bird Sanctuary in compliance of a Supreme Court of India order, in a case filed by environmentalist, Anand Arya. Arya had filed a case against the denudation and environmental distress caused to the ecology of the Okhla Bird Sanctuary because of the construction of the Noida Park.  

The NGO Delhi Bird Foundation has currently obtained a stay in the proposed construction and demolition (C&D) waste treatment plant, which is supposed to come up at Basai, a wetland rich in bird diversity. 
 
Despite a request from the Municipal Corporation to lift the stay on the construction of the plant, the green tribunal decided to maintain status quo till the next hearing.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by NGO Delhi Bird Foundation, seeking a stay on the project contending that the Basai wetland, though not declared as a notified wetland under the 2010 Wetland (Conservation & Management) Rules, was a valuable water body.

(Photo by Nikhil Devasar)

Appreciating the tribunal's direction, Pankaj Gupta of Delhi Bird Foundation said, "The state government never called Basai a notified wetland because they never took any initiative to do so." Earlier, following the directive of the tribunal, the irrigation and water resources department prepared a list of 51 wetlands in Haryana for identification and notification of wetlands across the state.
The Basai wetland doesn't find any mention in the list, which has been submitted to the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEF&CC).

(Times of India report)

Chandigarh Bird Club

Comparatively new is the Chandigarh Bird Club, which has been taking part in bird census around Punjab and Himachal Pradesh and documenting the results with http://eBird.org.   Apart from organizing birding trips regularly, the Club has started educating villages around birding areas by distributing water bowls for birds, organizing photo exhibitions etc. 

 

A unique initiative of the Club is to organize monthly sit down meetings for members where birding is the main topic discussed.  I happened to attend one of these meetings and was amazed at the energy levels and passion of this group with members from diverse backgrounds, young and old.  The meeting decides the activity for the next month. Planning for major initiatives like bringing out 1000 copes of bird booklets for school children is also done in these meetings

Bird clubs are truly evolving as think tanks for nature lovers. 




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