Bird Conservation in India

All wild species of significance are protected under law in India as follows :

The Wildlife Protection Act

1972

The Wildlife protection act was passed on 21st August 1972. It was implemented across India except in Jammu & Kashmir on 9th September 1972. The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (Last amended in 2006)

The Wildlife (Protection) Act (WLPA), 1972 is an important statute that provides a powerful legal framework for :

  • Prohibition of hunting
  • Protection and management of wildlife habitats
  • Establishment of protected areas
  • Regulation and control of trade in parts and products derived from wildlife
  • Management of zoos.

The WLPA provides for several categories of Protected Areas / Reserves :

  1. National Parks
  2. Wildlife Sanctuaries
  3. Tiger Reserves
  4. Conservation Reserves
  5. Community Reserves

There are 06 Schedules to this act which provide varying degrees of protection and legal punishments in case of offences.

For Birds :

  • Rare and endangered species of birds, including migratory birds, are included in Schedule-I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 thereby according to them highest degree of protection.
  • Stringent punishments have been provided for in the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 for violation of the provisions of the Act.
  • Important habitats of birds, including migratory birds, have been notified as Protected Areas under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 for better conservation and protection of birds and their habitats.
  • Financial and technical assistance is provided to the State/UT Governments for the protection and management of Protected Areas.
  • Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been established for the control of illegal trade in wildlife and its parts and products.

Ramsar Treaty

1971

Ramsar is a city in Iran. In 1971, an International Treaty for Conservation and Sustainable Use of Wetlands was signed at Ramsar. The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.

  • India signed the Ramsar Treaty in February 1982.
  • Currently, India has 27 Ramsar Sites.
  • The area covered in India of these wetlands is approximately 11,120 sq.km.

Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN)

2001

The Indian Bird Conservation Network is a collaboration by the Bombay Natural History Society, BirdLife International, Royal Society for Protection of Birds, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology & History, Indian Institute of Public Administration, Wildlife Institute of India and other NGO’s on the ground.

It aims at conserving conservation actions through sound research. It is open to all who believe that conservation of birds can contribute to the conservation of all biodiversity, and in return, beneficial in the spiritual and material well-being of human life. There are state-wise co-ordinators to help the flow of local information and bring these issues to the wider network.

As well as state-wise projects, BNHS will run nation-wide data-gathering projects which all members are a part of. The first of these is the Important Bird Areas Project. Part of the global initiative of BirdLife International uses the presence of threatened or habitat-specific bird species to identify a minimum set of sites for conservation.

This project has had major advocacy, education and scientific components, and it supports the existing conservation initiatives such as the Biodiversity Conservation Prioritisation Project and the IIPA Review of Protected Areas. 466 Important Bird Areas have been identified in India.

Bird Sensitivity Mapping Tool

2019

The Union environment ministry has approved a three-year study called the ‘Bird Sensitivity Mapping Tool’ to chart the pathways of migratory bird under the Central Asian Flyway (CAF) across India.

Flyways are used by groups of birds or species during their annual cycle to travel to breeding areas, stopovers and wintering zones. Globally, nine migratory flyways have been identified under the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS). CAF is one of them covering migratory bird routes across 30 countries with maximum routes passing through India. The study by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), which had made the proposal to the union environment ministry, will look at 77 locations over 17 states

The study was announced on the sidelines of the International Conference on Wetlands and Migratory Waterbirds of the Asian Flyways in Lonavala on Monday.

Apart from mapping and safeguarding bird pathways, the study will help policy development for proposed infrastructure projects and civil aviation bird alert issues, said officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC). “This is the first such tool using advanced modelling techniques (augmented reality) in India to map migratory bird routes. The Centre is very serious about migratory bird conservation, and this is why an international conference is being held in India,” said MS Negi, additional director general of forest (wildlife), MoEFCC. “These decisions are precursors to the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on the conservation of migratory species (CMS), an environmental treaty under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, to be held in February 2020.”

BNHS’ study will be part of India’s National Action Plan for Conservation of Migratory Birds and their Habitats along Central Asian Flyway (2018-2023), released last year by the Centre.

At a cost of Rs. 3.9 crore, the study will collate preliminary data related to bird ringing, satellite studies, bird collaring, flagging, etc. already available with BNHS and geo-code it in an organised manner on one portal. BNHS plans to further use augmented reality to develop three-dimensional profiling of migratory paths used by waterbirds in CAF with help from a Bengaluru-based technology company.

This app which can give states and the Centre real-time information on bird movement, seasonality, flock size etc. At a later stage, it will be useful for urban planning, and safety of wetlands. Today, this information is not available in a unified manner on any platform.

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