Waterfowl counts in India have generally been the domain of urban birdwatchers with little or no participation of the locals. This is inspite of the fact that the stewardship and knowledge that rise from the system often has generated greater conservation action and success. Aiming to build awareness about the water-bird diversity in their back yard, and to create local stewardship and build capacities to regularly monitoring these wetlands, a water bird census was initiated on 22-23rd of January 2011 in Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts by Agasthyamalai Community based Conservation Centre (ACCC), ATREE. This was supported by IUCN-EGP project and further to our surprise in kind support in form transportation etc came from the citizens. A group of 13 people from 4 districts of Tamil Nadu (Madurai, Virudhunagar, Thoothukudi and Tirunelveli) interacted with 14 bird experts from Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu to learn about skills to identify birds and scientifically observing their behaviour and habitat.
About 32 tanks in Tirunelveli and 10 in Thoothukudi districts were monitored during the census and we recorded a total of 32,561 birds belonging to 68 species. A whopping number of 11,051 birds were recorded in Kadambakulam of Thoothukudi and 6,227 were recorded in Vijayanarayanam in Tirunelveli. Cotton pygmy goose, a local migrant was the most abundant species and little cormorant the most widely distributed one.
Probably, this was the first large scale water bird census in this region. There was good media splash and press was closely following it. Apart from the partciapting citizens, it enthused the local people who watched the whole event curiosuly. It also amply highlighted the significance of Tamiraparani watershed as an important habitat for water birds. Demands from local folks for the declaration of Kadamba kulam as a bird conservation area is seen as a huge positive emerging from the exercise
Volume 5, Issue 1
Editor: Allwin Jesudasan
Associate editor: Rajkamal Goswami
Editorial Review: R. Ganesan, M. Soubadra Devy, T. Ganesh
Design and presentation: Kiran Salegame
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
Waterbird census 2011: genesis of citizen science in the landscape
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