Guwahati, Wednesday, October 12, 2016
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Bird watching in Kaziranga area mooted
Debasish Baruah
 KAZIRANGA, Oct 11 - Even though Kaziranga National Park has been a major wildlife tourist place, especially for the big five, including the one-horned Indian Rhino, Asiatic water buffalo, Eastern Swamp Deer etc., but very little has been done to promote bird watching in and around Kaziranga, which boasts of a record number of more than 500 different species of birds.

A section of tourists always come to Kaziranga, an Important Bird Area (IBA) to have a glimpse of rare and popular species of avifauna. According to Dr Anupam Sharma, from WWF-India, the need of the hour is for the authorities to introduce new locations in and around Kaziranga, like the adjacent foothills of Karbi Anglong for proper bird watching. This would definitely encourage tourists to explore new sightseeing points and thereby reduce some pressure to the ranges of Kaziranga National Park, which are already overstretched with tourism activities. He added that a proper research centre should be set up at Kaziranga, dealing exclusively with avifauna and its nature and characteristics. The centre should also compile data of the population status of different birds species available in Kaziranga from time to time and finally make suggestions for proper management of the habitats of bird species.

Papu Choudhury, a naturalist-cum-guide said that the majority of bird watchers are international tourists coming from Germany, Austria, Spain, The US etc., and they prefer to go for knowledge-based bird watching. He felt that if possible, the Kaziranga National Park authorities should open the Panbari Reserve Forest near the Park, exclusively for bird watching. This will encourage research scholars also in their higher studies. It is worth mentioning that Papu Choudhury can identify about 464 species of different birds and he has helped many foreign tourists to see rare bird species like the Blue naped pitta babbler, Finn’s weaver, silver-breasted broadbill and many others. Another naturalist-cum-guide mostly dealing with birds since the last seven years said awareness among the tourists is the need of the hour and for that the Tourism Department could take the initiative by encouraging travel agencies to promote bird watching programmes as one of their regular tour schedules and thereby promote it. He added that proper research work should be done about the causes of less sightings of some of the important bird species in recent years in Kaziranga. He said that species like the Black-breasted parrotbill, Jordan Babbler are rarely sighted in Kaziranga area nowadays compared to the previous years. Sources said that the Government should motivate the adjoining tea estate areas in Kaziranga to encourage visitors to enter their garden premises for proper bird watching.

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