Uttarakhand Notifies Bird Conservation Reserve
On March 9, 2015, the Government of Uttarakhand notified an area of 111.9 sq. km. in the Nainital district of Kumaon as the Nainadevi Himalayan Bird Conservation Reserve. Comprising the Kosi and Naina forest ranges, and covering the hamlets of Kilbury, Vinayak, Kunjakharak, Panghot and Gangikharak, this landscape is renowned for its rich bird life. It is also noted for harbouring five different species of oak trees.
Photo: Suniti Bhushan Datta.
The notification of the reserve is the result of the commitment of a number of forest officers, forest staff and conservationists. Recognising the unique biodiversity of the area, this region was recommended as a sanctuary in the Planning of wildlife protection area networking in India Vol. I and II, Rodgers and H. S. Panwar. However, this was never realised. The proposal for the notification of the reserve was again put forth by Prerna Singh Bindra, Founder Trustee of Bagh and then member of the Uttarakhand State Board for Wildlife (SBWL), at its meeting in September 2013. Subsequently, a committee was constituted by the state to survey the proposed area of the reserve, and give its recommendations. The members of the committee included Shri Dhananjai Mohan, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Anup Sah, member, SBWL, Prerna Singh Bindra, member, SBWL, while Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Nainital Tejaswani Patil Dhakate was the member convener. The reserve was ultimately notified after the committee made various field visits, met with local communities and submitted their recommendations to the state.
Paramjit Singh, Chief Conservator of Forests, Kumaon, who played a key role in initiating this effort commended the work of the forest department and highlighted the roles of Mohan, Patil and Parag Dhakate, DFO, Terai East in the process of consolidating the reserve. He noted, “Notifying Nainadevi will not only help in conservation of the rich biodiversity of the area, particularly its avifauna, but will also benefit the local communities through eco-tourism and other employment opportunities in the reserve.”
This visionary decision of the state government to declare this conservation reserve rests on the ecological significance of the region. The reserve hosts a wide diversity of avifauna, including a number of pheasant species, notably the Cheer Pheasant, which is the flagship species of this habitat. Some other birds include the Hill Partridge, Chukar Partridge, Koklass Pheasant, Khalij Pheasant, Rufous Sibia, Red-billed Leiothrix, Black-chinned Babbler, Black-throated Tit, Rock Bunting, Green-tailed Sunbird, and Yellow-breasted Greenfinch. Endangered raptors such as Bearded Vultures and Himalayan Griffons can also be seen here. Further, the now extinct Mountain Quail was last recorded in this region in 1876, and there exists the hope that it may be rediscovered here! Officials report that there will be renewed and concerted surveys toward this end.
Other than birds, a number of mammals, such as barking deer, sambar deer, yellow-throated marten, Himalayan goral, serow and leopard have been recorded in the area.
Read More: From Nainadevi To Nandhaur.