Goa Bird Atlas will gauge Goa's forests ecosystem: Pronoy Baidya

Exercise to begin on Aug 15 in which citizens and students will be involved
The bird atlas is an opportunity for individuals to contribute to Goa’s environment and ecology.
The bird atlas is an opportunity for individuals to contribute to Goa’s environment and ecology. Gomantak Times

While citing a Malabar grey hornbill is a positive sign for forests,
sighting Indian peafowls in a dense forest is a cause for concern
But, how exactly would one know if such a scenario exists? The answer
to that lies in an exercise that will be undertaken by Pronoy Baidya
of Arannya Environment Research Organisation (AERO) called the Goa
Bird Atlas. The exercise to formulate the detailed bird atlas will
begin on August 15.

The exercise can be categorised as ornithological work that will
provide information about the distribution, abundance, long-term
change and seasonal patterns of bird occurrence. The bird atlas will
help researchers gauge the condition of Goa's forests.

Dunlin- Winter Migrant
Dunlin- Winter MigrantPhoto: Pronoy Baidya

AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME
"An idea like this is good. But, to carry an exercise of such
magnitude is impossible and I would not dare dream of doing something
as big as this without the support of several like-minded people from
across the world,” says Pronoy, who came up with the idea, but refuses
to take credit for it.

Pronoy Baidya is a trained ecologist and head of the research division
of Arannya Environment Research Organisation (AERO), an environment
education and research NGO based in Goa. Besides birds, his major
research is focused on insects, especially ants”.
Before conceptualising Goa Bird Atlas, he has headed several
ornithological research projects through various institutions and
citizen science models in Goa and other places in India.

White-bellied Blue Flycatcher - Endemic to Western Ghats
White-bellied Blue Flycatcher - Endemic to Western GhatsPhoto: Pronoy Baidya

THE PROCESS
The process for the formulation of the Goa Bird Atlas is all set to
begin on August 15, 2023. It is a citizen-driven research programme
which is divided into two groups -- data getters and data crunchers.
Data getters are basically citizens of Goa and India who are willing
to go out, see birds and note down their observations in a prescribed
format on ‘eBird’, a citizen science portal created to collect
information on the avians.

And, data crunchers are geeks like Pronoy and his colleague Jalmesh
Karapurkar who love to play with numbers and make sense of the
information that will be collected on the field. The programme is very
open-ended in terms of participation but structured in terms of
protocol to follow.

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GREAT OPPORTUNITY
What makes these groups interesting is that they provide a great
opportunity for every individual that wants to contribute towards
Goa’s environment and ecology since data is the bedrock for making
informed decisions -- be it protection of the environment or
sustainable development.

The Goa Bird Atlas was conceptualised and launched on June 12, 2023,
with eminent ornithologists Dr S Subramanya, Dr Asad Rahmani and
Praveen Jayadevan announcing and exhorting everyone to participate and
contribute towards the initiative.

Amur Falcon - Winter Migrant from Russia
Amur Falcon - Winter Migrant from RussiaPhoto: Pronoy Baidya

THE DOERS
The programme was initiated by the Arannya Environment Research
Organisation and Centre for Environment Education Goa in collaboration
with the Goa Forest Department, Goa University, Goa State Biodiversity
Board, Goa State Wetland Authority and Bird Count India. It is also
supported by Wipro Foundation and Integrated Biopharma and Pharma
Solution.

Currently, the core team of Goa Bird Atlas includes Pronoy Baidya,
Jalmesh Karapurkar from AERO and Sujeetkumar Dongre from Centre for
Environment Education who are Principal Investigator, Coordinator and
Co-PI respectively.

Malabar Barbet- Endemic to Western Ghats,
Malabar Barbet- Endemic to Western Ghats,Photo: Pronoy Baidya

TALUKA COORDINATORS
Apart from this, there are also 12 taluka coordinators. However, the
education and outreach team will be headed by Harshada Gauns and
volunteers will come from the network group of AERO and other partner
organisations.

The programme will have enough scope for college students to take part
in the exercise and they will be trained for the same.
Shedding light on Goa Bird Atlas, Pronoy says, "Goa has many firsts in
terms of ornithology research, and one such is the fact that the state
was the first to bring out a dynamic bird checklist which is updated
every year by him and co-author Mandar Bhagat."

Painted Stork - Local Migrant
Painted Stork - Local MigrantPhoto: Pronoy Baidya

ENDEMIC BIRDS
Today, the count has increased to 486 species of birds documented from
Goa of which 17 species are endemic to the Western Ghats of India and
22 species are classified as threatened by the International Union for
Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The endemic birds of the Western Ghats are very important since these
species do not move anywhere else. But, when it comes to migratory
birds, it is difficult to come to an exact figure. According to a
rough estimate, Goa hosts roughly 200 species of migratory birds.

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TRAINING PROGRAMMES
A formal launch function and training program in association with
Dnyanprassarak Mandal's College & Research Centre will be held on July
14, 2023. This training program invites all interested participants
(especially students) to attend.
The training programme will cater to the talukas of Pernem, Bardez and
Tiswadi and will be followed by the second programme on July 16, 2023,
at Navelim which will cater to the remaining talukas of North Goa.
There will be two similar training sessions in South Goa as well.

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These are free and open to all.  All training programmes will conclude
by August 5, 2023. The sessions will be coordinated by an identified
coordinator who is assigned to every taluka and will be responsible
for overseeing the progress of bird surveys in each of the 12 talukas.

L-R: Jacobin Cuckoo, Verditer FC and Flame-throated Bulbul
L-R: Jacobin Cuckoo, Verditer FC and Flame-throated BulbulPhoto: Pronoy Baidya

HELP IS WELCOME
The Goa Bird Atlas has been funded by Wipro Foundation, Integrated
Biopharma and Pharma Solution and Wetlands International, informs
Pronoy. He further adds a large part of the targeted budget has still
not been secured and that they are actively looking out for financial
support partners who could help the GBA project either through
donations or CSR partnerships. The total cost of the entire project,
which includes educational and outreach programmes, works out to
around Rs 15 lakh.

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BIRDING
Pranoy shares, “Birds and birdwatching became a people’s movement in
earnest since 2010 in Goa, thanks to the internet. Several people have
contributed information on birds from Goa, especially on eBird.
However, this itself is not enough, it needs to be more scientific in
nature.”

“Did you know that just by mapping the presence and absence of birds
across Goa, we would be able to create a readymade report card of the
health of Goa’s ecosystem?” says Pranoy. This is one of the prime
reasons why the GBA was initiated, he adds.
The Goa Bird Atlas will be second such exercise after Kerala, and it
will definitely help pull serious bird enthusiast tourists to Goa from
India and across the world.

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