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Avian Diversity

March 30, 2024
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Migratory birds fly over wetland Hokersar, 16 kms north of Srinagar November 19, 2013.

Jammu and Kashmir has always remained a haven for avian enthusiasts and ornithologists. The recent study published in Indian Birds, a journal of South Asian Ornithology has reported a significant surge in the bird species count in the region. The study, led by Wildlife Warden North, Intesar Suhail, along with other esteemed researchers, highlights a remarkable increase in the number of bird species in Jammu and Kashmir. With 592 species belonging to 21 orders and 88 families, this comprehensive checklist signifies a clear improvement from the previous count of 555 species. This surge in avian diversity opens doors to various avenues that can be explored for the benefit of both tourism and conservation efforts in the union territory. The abundance of bird species offers immense potential for ecotourism development in Jammu and Kashmir. Birdwatching tours can be organised, attracting enthusiasts from around the globe to explore the diverse avifauna of the region. This can create employment opportunities for local guides, homestays and tour operators, thereby contributing to the socio-economic upliftment of the communities. By promoting responsible birdwatching practices and highlighting the importance of conservation, Jammu and Kashmir can attract tourists interested in supporting conservation efforts. Visitors may be willing to contribute to conservation initiatives, participate in volunteer programs, or visit conservation centers, further enhancing the region’s appeal as a conservation tourism destination. Birdwatching tourism can be promoted as a year-round activity, with different seasons offering opportunities to observe migratory birds, nesting activities, and seasonal changes in bird populations. This can help in spreading tourism throughout the year, reducing dependency on specific peak seasons. Birdwatching tourism can also facilitate cultural exchange and interaction between tourists and local communities. Visitors may have the opportunity to learn about local traditions, lifestyles and conservation practices. Such cultural exchanges will lead to enriching their travel experience and building mutual understanding and respect. Moreover, the identification of 25 globally threatened bird species emphasizes the need for conservation efforts to protect their habitats and ensure their survival. Conservation initiatives, such as habitat restoration, establishment of protected areas and community-based conservation programs, can be implemented to safeguard these species and their ecosystems. The comprehensive checklist compiled in the study serves as a valuable resource for ongoing research and monitoring activities. Continued monitoring of bird populations can provide insights into ecological changes, climate impacts and biodiversity trends, facilitating informed conservation decisions and policy formulation. Utilising the avian diversity for educational purposes can enhance awareness about wildlife conservation and the importance of biodiversity. Educational programs, nature camps and outreach activities can be organised to engage students, local communities and tourists in bird conservation efforts. Therefore, the surge in bird species diversity in Jammu and Kashmir presents a unique opportunity to harness the region’s natural heritage for ecotourism development and biodiversity conservation. By capitalizing on this avian diversity through strategic planning, collaborative efforts, and community involvement, Jammu and Kashmir can emerge as a leading destination for birdwatching tourism while ensuring the long-term conservation of its rich avifauna.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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