The sixth edition of the Bird Festival of Goa will offer an opportunity for the participants to see, know and gain an in-depth understanding of birds. The first 200 participants registered will get an opportunity to be a part of this bird festival.
The social media post by Goa Tourism states that the 6th edition of the Bird Festival of Goa will be held from January 27 to 29, 2023, at Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Bondla, Goa.
The participants of this festival will not only indulge in the natural beauty of Goa, they will also experience the return of migratory birds and the diverse local avifauna in the winter.
Goa, a state located in the magnificent Western Ghats in the east, flanked by the Arabian Sea to its west, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. People are drawn by the peaceful ambience, scenic beaches and multitude of restaurants that exist in this tiny state.
Situated in the Western Ghats, one of the 25 mega biodiversity hotspots in the world, Goa sees the merging of two diverse ecosystems – a marine ecosystem and an ecosystem that thrives in a forest environment. Hence, we witness a great diversity of species in Goa.
Forests make up about 1250 sq km of the state's geographical area of 3702 sq km. There is endemic vegetation that ranges from evergreen and semi-evergreen vegetation to deciduous or leaf-shedding species.
Goa has mangroves which shelter biodiversity such as the giant Matti (Terminalia crenulata), the state tree; the tiny blood-sucking leech; the Southern Bird Wing butterfly; the small green bee-eater and so on.
20.04% of the geographical area of the state is demarcated as Wildlife Protected Areas (WLPAs). Sanctuaries and national parks are spread over 755 sq km.
When contacted some bird watchers, environmentalists and animal rights activists from Goa made it evident that they have high expectations from festivals and events associated with nature, the environment and animals.
The environmentalists feel that these festivals should not stay limited to taking a picture or having a nature trail. There needs to be a plan of action; awareness needs to spread so that local people are able to protect the habitat of these birds.
Zarina D'cunha, an environmentalist from Nuvem, said that the 6th Bird festival, which will be organised in Bondla, is expected to have bird watchers and people who love nature.
“We are living in an ecosystem wherein birds play a far greater role than what is normally understood,” said Zarina D’Cunha.
Therefore, the late Dr Salim Ali did a study on birds and put his life at risk to understand and safeguard birds. Dr Salim Ali even petitioned the Nizam of Hyderabad to stop his bird hunting.
Zarina further said, “We do not realise that we are destroying nature. We destroy birds' habitats by intruding on them and polluting their surroundings. When the food source is polluted and the habitat destroyed, then where will the birds migrate?”
D'Cunha said that over 450 bird species have been documented in Goa. Birds need to be protected, and for this, we need to protect the wildlife sanctuaries. From the first bird festival until now, we need to study the status of the species of birds which have been documented during these festivals.
Amrut Singh, the president of the Animal Rescue Squad, feels that it is good to have a bird festival as it encourages youth to know more about birds and nature.
He also opines that these festivals should not be restricted to one venue annually but should happen in various parts of Goa where there is the presence of migratory birds and indigenous species of Goa.
Arjit Jere, a birder and environmental science communicator who has written articles on wildlife and the Western Ghats, says that having a bird festival will surely encourage new generations to study this subject.
In many cases during bird watching, tourists and photographers tend to intrude into the habitats and the safe zones of these migratory birds which disturbs them.
Flash photography, pollution and littering of garbage in the forest are a few other reasons why many migratory bird species are not coming to Goa. Jere further mentioned that if we are able to come up with a solution to safeguard birds then it would be great.