Environment

A community turns to Twitter hashtags to motivate people into birding and conservation

Crimson Sunbird   | Photo Credit: Goldy Rajiv Santhoji

A stunning image of four Amur falcons perched on a tree, tweeted by conservationist Vivek Menon (@vivek4wild) kickstarts a discussion on the conservation story of the falcons that have just landed in Nagaland now en route to Africa. Manish Hariprasad’s (@manishhariprasad) photograph of the mighty steppe eagles, the largest eagles found in India, is an arresting image that draws attention to their dwindling numbers and endangered status. The peregrine falcon photographed at Sambhar Lake, Rajasthan, by Arpit Deomurari (@deomurari) is part of a tweet packed with information on the raptor’s renowned speed — it can go up to 320 kilometres/hour.

Backyard wonders

It is a showcase of raptors from across the country under the hashtag #RapchikRaptors on the @IndiAves page. Take a quick scroll and you are

Pankaj, who has been birding for 18 years, has documented over 1,000 species (of the total 1,350 in India) from across Kerala, the Northeast, Gujarat, and Kashmir. “I take young people on birding trips in and around Delhi, where in the city you can spot more than 60 species.”

“We want people to appreciate the wealth of biodiversity,” says Rocky over phone from Nainital. “Just this morning, I spotted 43 species of birds, as well as mountain goats and leopard during a birding outing. The hashtags with themes like #storksundays puts those birds in the spotlight, and drive the engagement.”

Rocky, who has been birding and photographing birds for over 25 years, says IndiAves is a place where people express their passion. “I encourage the spirit of love and passion for wild and outdoors in children. Being a part of IndiAves amplifies that cause. We have enthusiasts from the North, South, East and West putting out information, and knowledge-sharing happens. A few professional photographers jumped on board, which is a big plus.”

For seasoned birders like Christy Bharath(@contentbirder), an independent bird watcher from Chennai, IndiAves brings back the joy of surprise in birding. “ I went, “Wow!” when I saw Aseem Kotharia’s post on parrotbills. A set of four lovely birds in a combination of brown and grey colours, and an accompanying note on how the distinctive, strongly arched, parrot-like bills give the birds the name. I have been posting bird photographs, especially owls, with their hashtags for the past three months because I want to contribute to the learning experience.”

Learn from the best
  • You can follow renowned photographers like Aseem Kothiala(@Kothiala) based in Himachal, Aditya Dickysingh (@ adityadickysin) from Ranthambore Tiger Reserve area of Rajasthan, SAKET(@Saket_Badola presently Head-TRAFFIC India Programme of WWF-India) IFS officers like Parveen Kaswan (@ ParveenKaswan) and wildlife conservationist Vivek Menon (@vivek4wild) who is also the CEO of the Wildlife Trust of India and an award-winner for his conservation work to save the Asian elephant. Other core members of IndiAves tweet from @Bhrigzz @siddisimple @TMDixit @praveen4588 @HumayoonAsad @rdrakesh

Christy says it has piqued his interest to travel across the country and see all the amazing birds. “What makes these eco-warriors stand out is that they bring that sense of innocence and wonderment towards birding which eventually leads to conservation. You just have to step out of your front door to realise that and become a conservationist at heart.”

Silver Bill

Silver Bill   | Photo Credit: Shalini Elassery

Unsung heroes

“Every hashtag tells a story,” says Shalini Elassery talking to us on WhatsApp call from Israel. “It is also about honouring local bird guides, the unsung heroes who have phenomenal knowledge on wildlife. Be it Tripura, Uttarkhand or Rajasthan, there are so many guides who are never appreciated or acknowledged. It is happening on IndiAves now,” says Shalini with pride. “Knowledge dissemination is key. I have been into birding for the last 15 years but I have gained a deeper insight into ornithology.”

Red Munia

Red Munia   | Photo Credit: Chandrakala Rathnam

Chandrakala says every activity is aimed at engaging youngsters. “We ran a bird quiz for beginners and non-birders. Once there is curiousity, they start thinking about protecting their habitat and so on.”

Shalini mentions that some of the themes like #wildlife week, #WorldMigratoryBirdDay, #backyardbirds were revelations. “People came up with amazing photos of reptiles, mammals, birds, and butterflies. It ignites conservation at the grassroots. A woman in Mumbai identified over 100 species from her balcony during the pandemic.”

She adds, “The platform gives us a voice to work alongside the Forest Departments, too. We retweet and comment on every post. Our ultimate aim is that every birder will eventually become a conservationist.”

Goldy mentions that Priyanka Gandhi’s son Raihan Rajiv Vadra follows @IndiAves. “When such young personalities start following wildlife, it gives us a ray of hope.”

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 8:13:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/a-community-turns-to-twitter-hashtags-to-motivate-people-into-birding-and-conservation/article33098292.ece

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