Agasthya 6.1 Mobilizing citizens for the waterfowl survey
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Centre for Excellence in Conservation Science
Royal Enclave,Srirampura,Jakkur Post
Telephone: 080-23635555 (EPABX)
Fax : 080- 23530070

India has a significant portion of its land as wetland comprising of natural lakes, irrigation tanks and reservoirs. About 25 of these wetlands have been selected as internationally important by the Ramsar Convention and declared as Ramsar Sites. Humans value wetlands as they provide many services such as cultural, aesthetic and health services. These natural resources, if managed properly can solve many problems related to environmental as well as social issues. Apart from providing services to humans, wetlands also provide habitat to variety of plants and animals. In Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts, there are many wetlands that are rich in floral and faunal diversity and these wetlands are home to more than 70 bird species including many migratory birds. These districts were known for its heronries (nesting sites of water birds) but is changing fast because of various reasons including people's attitude. In our survey of wetlands, we found that birds seem to prefer nesting in places where the trees were present inside the tanks. Unfortunately, we came across many instances were the trees in the wetlands have been cut. ATREE's ACCC believes that local people's participation in wetland conservation is very important and thus ACCC has been conducting many conservation programmes with the involvement of local citizens. One of our initiatives is the annual waterfowl census in wetlands which are fed by the perennial river Tamiraparani. Main goals of this programme are conservation of wetlands and its biodiversity, creating awareness, assembling like-minded people under one roof and taking count of water birds during winter season. As soon as we made an announcement in newspapers about waterfowl census, many citizens from Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts responded. In the first year (2011) about 40 volunteers participated and in the second year 55 participated, indicating an increase in both reach and popularity. Many of them were new to bird watching and hence had to be given an orientation program in identification of wetland birds. People aged between 20 to 60 years participated and their profession ranged from students, doctors, entrepreneurs, employees, pensioners, to home-makers. Inspired by the census efforts in 2011, two nature clubs (Pearl City Nature Society and Dhonavur Nature Club) have been formed in the landscape. These groups were started to regularly watch birds in wetlands and to bring the students of schools and colleges under the fold of nature lovers. It is heartwarming to know that lot of citizens are interested to engage themselves in nature conservation activities through the waterfowl census.



Editorial Team
Editor: Allwin Jesudasan
Associate editor: Rajkamal Goswami
Editorial Review: R. Ganesan, M. Soubadra Devy, T. Ganesh
Design and presentation: Kiran Salagame

Volume 6,  Issue 1
      April 2012

A S H O K A   T R U S T   F O R   R E S E A R C H   I N   E C O L O G Y   A N D   T H E   E N V I R O N M E N T

Mobilizing citizens for the waterfowl survey
- M Mathivanan
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