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Conservation Efforts - A Ranger's Perspective

16 August 2014 Comments::DISQUS_COMMENTS

The ficus plant growing on lofty tree is sight witnessed by many of us, but very few times we ponder over it to understand how seeds of Ficus have reached up there. If we search for answer then one of the answers is a Bird. The birds play a very important role in dispersal of seeds thus helping in regeneration of forests and also restocking of forests.

The birds and plants have evolved for centuries and in this course of time have developed adaptions which help plants complete their lifecycle and in turn it helps birds in their breeding cycles. The courtship in certain bird species are triggered by flowering and fruiting of plants in Western Ghats and it signifies that there is ample amount of food to raise clutch of chicks. These interactions among birds and plants were on records historically much before bird watching was developed as hobby. These interactions at different levels in forest ecosystems need to be studied by wildlife managers and forest officers for planning long term conservation strategies.

The nursery techniques for regeneration of some plant species in Western Ghats forests have not been standardized till date. Hence ex-situ conservation of these species is difficult, thus forcing us to rely on natural agents like birds for regeneration. Birds like hornbills and different species of pigeons have been playing crucial role in dispersal of pretreated seeds of many ficus species. Apart from this there are numerous other birds which have evolved feeding mechanism and in this process they pollinate flowers thus helping again in developing germplasm for regeneration. The wildlife manager has to develop an eye to observe and understand the variations of bird movement in wildlife areas and depending on it wildlife management prescriptions are to be devised and executed. In commercial forestry there wasn’t much scope for conservation of these lower life forms, but with conservation forestry it is easier to work towards conservation by remaining within the frame work of policies and existing laws. In recent times there is considerable pressure on ever decreasing forest resources which needs to be handled systematically without which we may bring drastic change in habitat thus exterminating species from that area.

Tourism is another challenge which is raising its ugly head in forest areas of Goa, Tourism activities are moving from coastal areas into hinterland under the garb of ecotourism. It is required that we analyze and decide on carrying capacity of wilderness area before opening it to tourist for eco-tourism purpose. Vehicular movement in wildlife areas by tourist is responsible for large scale emission of smoke thus affecting insect life forms and then in turn it affects bird life of the area. I have observed that wildlife areas frequented by tourists were emission is very high has displaced insect life and various species of insectivorous birds from this area have moved into deeper areas thus setting in competition among them, and putting pressure on available resources. The understory vegetation in deeper areas has been subjected to over predation by insects and snails which have moved from the road side into denser vegetation. The tourism has its various adverse effects of which some I have observed affecting bird life have been put forth, so as to sensitize readers about it. In recent times family outings in wild natural places have increased considerably, serene natural places are selected by these family picnickers. They reach these sites all set for barbecues, assorted alcohol etc. once a picnic is over trash along with burning charcoals are dumped at the site and picnickers leave the place in a happy mood. The burning charcoals smelter giving rise to forest fires devastating larger areas than the place visited by tourists.

Another new trend which has picking up with birdwatcher is use of prerecorded bird calls to attract birds for ease in watching or photographing them. This activity is equivalent to baiting and baiting of animals in wildlife protected areas are prohibited, but still people resort to this to get assured sighting of some elusive bird species. It will definitely have adverse effect on birds specially during breeding season, the prerecorded bird calls used by bird watchers actually disrupts the courtship display, though it is on smaller scale but if not kept under check it may definitely affect local bird species. Same so called wildlife photographers in bid to get best pictures of birds photograph certain elusive bird species near nesting sites and it has been observed that bird has gone under trauma and has dropped egg at entrance of nest hole rather than laying its egg in the nest. The ethics of wildlife photography is violated by a wildlife photographer in bid to get best picture which can be boasted about. They actually move around in forested areas locating potential nesting sites and then these sites are under surveillance during nesting season.  

The responsibilities on wildlife manager is increasing day by day in order to conserve this natural places in its pristine condition, we require to create aware citizens and this can be achieved only when people are sensitized towards significance of wildlife. We all have to understand that bird life in forest areas and around our settlements play very important role in shaping our socioeconomic conditions, without them I think we would be deprived of so many valuable things. The need of the time is wildlife managers have to plan strategy for conservation of habitats which in turn will conserve bird life of protected areas.

Last modified on Saturday, 13 September 2014 10:43
Paresh Porob

Paresh Porob is a forest officer by training. His immense interest in wildlife has earned him many distinctions. He was awarded "Wild life service award" by Sanctuary. He has been awarded certificates of appreciation by the Govt. of Goa- Forest Department for Wildlife service. He shares his experience with us.