In the face of rapid urbanisation, wildlife is losing its place in the race of survival. Birds, who depend mainly on trees and water bodies, can be part of responsible environmental stewardship and it is necessary to take steps to minimize the risk of more bird species going unnecessarily extinct.
So, how do we conserve birds? By learning from previous threats how to protect critically endangered species. An activity, which started as bird watching has prompted a network of people who would help protect the spaces for migratory birds. Thus, the North Karnataka Birders' Network (NKBN) was formed.
Since its inception, this informal network of over 40 odd birders has been at the forefront of conserving the habitat of avian species in 13 districts of North Karnataka.
The plan comprises four broad components species conservation, habitat conservation and sustainable management, capacity development and communication outreach.
Why birds go extinct
• Habitat loss through development, natural disasters, climate change.
• Food loss through competition from other species or loss of food sources
• Hunting and poaching, as well as invasive predators and egg collecting
• Toxic poisoning that may be fatal or could devastate breeding success
• Lack of individual adaptability to changing circumstances, range changes, etc.
Bird watching and conservation
There are many ways that birders taking the smallest steps can help reduce the risk of extinction, and the more birders who take those steps, the larger the overall impact will be and the more bird species will benefit.
Awareness is the key
Understanding how many birds are at risk to become extinct is the first step toward raising awareness of how to lower the risks of extinction for the birds that need the most intervention and conservation help. In creating awareness about the species, bird watching is the most immediate way.
So far, NKBN has scientifically recorded the presence of more than 460 species of birds in North Karnataka, including 16 endemic birds and four critically endangered species.
North Karnataka has a diverse bird habitat. And, one can sight the birds of the Western Ghats in Uttara Kannada, Belagavi and some parts of Dharwad districts. On the other hand, the grassland and arid regions of Ballari, Koppal, Raichur have several endangered species, including a few critically endangered Great Indian Bustards.
The members of NBKN have played a significant role in making Magadi Kere, Attiveri, Ankasamudra, and other lakes and wetlands a sanctuary for endangered birds. The group has been instrumental in conserving a habitat for hornbills in the Dandeli forests.
Even with the best efforts, extinctions will still happen and some bird species will still be lost in the future. But it is important to help minimize those risks and conserve small species, which are very part of our lives.