Jul 31, 2008
There is nothing more colorful, lively and beautiful as birds. They are not just beautiful to behold, they also add immeasurable value to human lives. Their melodious calls and whistling tones are a wake up call to commence the day on a bright note. All birds have recreational value as bird watching. They add colour and variety to any landscape, may it be a pond or a lake. Birds touch us in unexpected ways. In return we can repay them for giving us such enjoyment by providing them with natural habitats. They put forth no demands on mankind, yet as days go by they are threatened. We need to take serious note of their dwindling numbers.
Today, an ever increasing number of people flock to cities in increasing numbers every year. In the coming years our population will become increasingly urbanized. And yet, we recognize that life in a metro or a town can be stressful; but we also know that green spaces, natural areas, artificial ponds, man made lakes and water bodies with aquatic birds and wildlife can relieve the stress and improve our quality of life. It is for this very reason that we need to protect our green spaces and natural forests.
The world has recognized the importance of the Western Ghats for the rich variety of life forms they hold. The mountain ranges and the densely wooded forests accommodate the famous school of life comprising of rare, exotic, native, endangered and endemic bird species. The Western Ghats is also recognized internationally as the “western Ghat Endemic Bird area” and is known to support some rare and globally threatened bird species. It is one of the best birding hot spots in India for variety, beauty, and eco friendliness. Infact, these evergreen forests account for over a third of the bird species endemic to India. The Indian region is home to over 2000 of the world’s 8650 species. In short, the Indian bird check list is twice the size of those of Europe and North America.
The Western Ghat forests; stretching forth thousands of miles are perfect bird sanctuaries because they provide a safe haven for all forms of life. These include scrub forests and the sholas in the low lying rain shadow regions, deciduous and tropical rain forests up to about 1250 meters and montane forests and grass lands reaching a height above 2000 meters.
The mountains encompass a wide range of climate and habitat, which support a wide range of bird species. These forests radiate a wide variety of birds in different shapes, sizes, colors, habits and instincts. Each species is present in select numbers and occupy almost every conceivable niche. The presence of thousands of bird species makes the entire region a paradise for nature lovers.
This article is specially written to facilitate “Daiji World “readers see first hand a few of the rare and exotic AQUATIC bird species of the Western Ghats.
INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE & BIRD PROTECTION
Birds receive immeasurable assistance from the pro active caring of the farming community across the length and breadth of the Western Ghats. Due to the reverence, adulation and protection that farmers have bestowed on the forests, it has resulted in the survival of hundreds of native & endangered bird and animal species. The Indian tradition teaches us that all forms of life, human, animals, birds, and plants are so closely linked, that disturbance in one gives rise to imbalance in the others.
The people of the region have lived for thousands of years in close harmony with nature. A few legends state that the Brahminy duck, was the symbol of fidelity; the pairs mating for life. The Emperor Jehangir noted with amazement the devotion of a sarus crane to its dead mate. The bird refused to leave the bones of its spouse.
THREATS TO BIRDS:
By far the major threat affecting bird populations is the unrestricted habitat loss and degradation of aquatic surrounding due to human activities. It is an open secret that more than half of the wet lands, estuaries, mangroves and marsh lands across the length and breadth of the Western Ghats has been destroyed. Lets face it; Wet lands are falling prey to land grabbers. Wet lands in and around cities and towns are drained and raised with soil to accommodate concrete jungles.
Bird conservation practices like prevention or reduction in habitat loss, habitat deterioration and habitat fragmentation need to be high on our agenda, for the simple reason that birds play a vital role in stabilizing food chains and food webs essential for the survival of man. We need to focus on the small details like shielding bird nests, protecting migratory neighborhoods, and providing an ecofriendly environment in order to better appreciate the larger spectrum of life. This will enable us to be conscience to the many dimensions of our existence and treat aquatic birds with respect. A sustainable system empowers global citizens to build better lives. It is our obligation to understand that in nature’s shadow we all co exist.
More than half of the world’s 10,000 bird species depend on forests, marshlands, grasslands, wetlands and mangroves for their survival. These places provide the much needed breeding grounds for avian fauna. But loss of wetlands and introduction of new age chemicals in agriculture is threatening the very life support system because of large scale habitat destruction.
There are new problems that birds need to solve due to man’s continued dominance. Until a few years ago the ornamental lacy plumes of egrets was in great demand for millinery purposes in Europe and America to pander to fashion in women’s dress. The trade in feathers was so lucrative, and the birds were slaughtered almost to a point of extinction. Due to the Wild Birds and Animals Protection Act, the birds are now protected.
Birds have the ability to adapt to so many different types of habitat. However, one question that man has not been able to answer is whether birds can survive the changes humans are making to the world!