Ornithology of Kutch is important due to its Geographical Location. The district of Kutch falls on the migration route of birds. The vast stretches of Rann, flooded portions and Bet area (20,600 sq. kms), Banni Grasslands (3847 sq. kms), Coast Line (352 kms) long, tropical thorn forest, Coastal Sand Dunes, all diverse habitat serve as staging, feeding, roosting grounds of these birds. The resident birdlife of Kutch shows strong similarities with the birds of Sindh, Kathiawar and Western Rajasthan. The Great Rann seems to function as an efficient barrier to local migration.
A 375 species of birds are listed from Kutch. Many of these species are first time records of stray birds, vagrants. Grey Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus is a regular wintering species in Fulay tooth brush tree forest and in some pockets of Banni. White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis a vulnerable and endemic species survives in tropical thorn forest of Kutch, 3 species of Bustards are seen in Kutch Indian Bustard being resident and critically endangered.
Passage Migrants 8 species passes through Kutch peninsula from August till October. Common Crane Grus grus major wintering ground lies in the vast tracts of Banni, Coastal Kutch, Khadir Island and on the fringes of the Rann of Kutch.
Nature tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of the global tourism industry. Bird Focused Nature tourism can be harnessed as a positive force for biodiversity conservation that brings benefits to visitors and hosts alike.
Centre for Desert and Ocean (CEDO) a Registered Trust for Wildlife Conservation and Bird Tourism is working since 2005 in the field of Bird focused Nature Tourism in Kutch. So far Birders from 50 nations of the world have visited Kutch with CEDO and Domestic Birders and Bird Photographers from all parts of India have visited Kutch and contributed to better understanding of the Birdlife and Nature of the area. A large number of Trip Reports are available online. Few Links are listed here.
CEDO-Trust is a member of the International Tourism Society (TIES) and follows the Birdlife International’s “Bird Tourism Charter”
Aims and Objectives
Bird Focused Nature Tourism as a positive force for Biodiversity Conservation
- Environmental Increase Awareness among visitors, better understanding of the species and habitat.
- Generate support among the decision makers for conservation of the important bird areas of the region.
- Active Involvement of locals, Forest Department and Eco Tourism Industry.
- To promote the best practices to reduce the negative social and environmental impact of bird tourism.
- To promote Birds as flagship for biodiversity conservation.
Philosophy of Bird Tourism
Nature tourism is widely promoted as one of the solutions to the pressures that Natural Ecosystem faces as a result of development process. If it is not carefully regulated and managed, however, Nature Tourism can place pressure on wildlife and places that visitors come to see, for example disturbances, pollution etc. It can also have negative, social, cultural and economic impact on local communities.
The philosophy of bird tourism is that the Bird Focused Nature Tourism should be developed in such a way that, it should not adversely affect birds and their habitats, but rather contributes to biodiversity conservation, delivers benefits to host communities and provides rewarding and enriching experience to visitors.
A strong photographic database is made available over the Internet by us for the visitors to study and do proper home-work prior to visiting for Birding in Kutch.
To View Birds and Wildlife images online visit following links:-
At CEDO we follow
Principles of Bird Tourism
- Species and Habitat
- Put Bird First ( Meaning : To reduce/minimize any disturbances to birds or their habitats. Besides using spotting scopes to see a bird from safe distance. )
- Pressure of showing and seeing a species
- Avoid trampling habitat.
- Respect the breeding species, avoid use of lures and playing tapes repeatedly.
- Involve local people in planning and delivering tourism
- Train local drivers and guides.
- Respect local customs and rights.
- Enhance the quality of the visitor’s experience.
Contribute to the conservation of sites visited
- We at CEDO do this by providing the safe drinking water to village schools (So far 54 RO-plants have been installed in different Village’s Schools.)
- Involving the locals and schools in native tree plantation and taking the students and teachers on Nature Education trips costing them just the time.
Note :- Monetary supports comes from the CEDO-Trust, Donors and Research Grants.
Nature Education – Birdwatching for students
- Convert the Un-converted.
- Build constituencies for Nature Education
- Birdwatching is a healthy and rewarding pastime enjoyed by rapidly growing community of people around the world.
- Birdwatching can act as a vehicle for attracting people to visit natural areas and stimulating a commitment to nature conservation.
- We organize Nature Education and Birding camps for local students and teachers ( About 750-1000 students and 50-70 teachers/year are taken on birding trips by us in Kutch.)
- With the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), we have organized 6 major Birdwatching Camps of 5 days each so far. All camps were successful and the account of which was published by members in “BNHS publication HORNBILL” authored by Jyoti Palekar, besides many blogs were also written by members online.
Birds of Special Interest in Kutch :
Kutch district is rich in birdlife. Out of 375 species listed, most of the birders coming to the region come with a hope to see following specialties
- Grey Hypocolius – Seen reliably in Fulay tooth brush Salvadora persica jungle. Only place in India to see this single genera (monotypic) member wax-wing family.
- Indian Bustard Critically endangered species – In Naliya grasslands
- White-naped Tit – An endemic and vulnerable species seen in the tropical thorn forest of Kutch.
- Sykes’s Nightjar – A nocturnal regional specialty. Found nesting first time in Banni by author in 2009.
- Sykes’s Lark – locally distributed species
- MacQueen’s Bustard – Migratory seen in Banni, Costal sand dunes and Rann
- Lesser Florican – Monsoon breeding visitor
- Desert Warbler – Migratory warbler seen in Banni and Naliya
- Cream Colored Courser – Rann of Kutch and Banni
- Sociable Plover – Critically endangered bird. 60 seen last Dec 17, 2009 the birds were last seen on 5 th Feb 2010.
- Crab Plover – A migrant, monotypic species seen in the Gulf of Kutch parts of Kutch, Jamnagar.
- Stoliczka’s Bush Chat or White-browed Bush Chat – Endemic and rare species seen in Banni, Naliya, Rann, Velavadar, Desert national park, Sultanpur etc.
- House Bunting – Resident bird seen in stony scrub
- Grey-necked Bunting – Migratory species, common wintering in Savanna and Scrub forest.
- Marshall’s Iora – Localized distribution, resident seen in thorn forest and on the agricultural areas farm boundaries.
- White-bellied Minivet – A resident bird seen in Scrub and Savanna
- Graceful Prinia – Resident, grassland species
- Rufous-fronted Prinia – Resident species seen in thorn forest, grasslands and savanna country.
- Grey-breasted Prinia – Resident species seen in agricultural farm areas and thorn scrub.
- Painted Sandgrouse – Resident, seen in stony gravel country with thin scrub jungle
- Pallid Scops Owl – Wintering rarity in Great and Little Rann of Kutch, Banni
- Indian Eagle Owl – A rarity seen in the ravines, grasslands and hilly areas
- Red-tailed Wheater – A scarce winter visitor to stony country
- Passage Migrants – July to October I st week : European Roller, Spotted Flycatchers, European Nightjar, Greater White-throat, Rufous scrub Robin, Common Quails, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Red-backed Shrike.
- Other species – Brown rock Chat, Dusky crag Martin, Trumpeter Finch, Cliff Swallow, Sirkeer Malkhoa, Dalmatian Pelican, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo.
- Kutch district and surrounding areas are rich in mammalian fauna and this is evident by the richness of fauna. Checklist :- Caracal, Desert Cat, Desert Fox, Asiatic Wild Ass, Small Indian Civet, 2 species of Mongoose, Ratel, Pangolin, Chinkara, Wild Boar, 2 species of Hedge Hogs, Crested Porcupines, Wolf, Hyena, Jungle Cat, Indian Fox, Nilgai, Golden Bush Rat, Desert Jird, Indian Gerbil, Kutch Rock Rat, Indian Field Mice, and many species of Insectivorous bats and 2 species of Fruit bat.
- John Hall and Richard Web two world renowned mammal-watchers visited Kutch and talk high about the mammalian diversity of the area. To know more visit the following link.
- Promote home-stay in Kutch mainland and Otaq stay in Banni – to involve local responsible people in Bird Focused Nature Tourism.
- Otaq stay : In Banni guest rooms of the locals are generally away from their dwellings, such places are called Otaq. In villages like Tal, Layari, Vedhar, Vazira-vandh and others, such places can be developed and locals after training by Forest Department and NGO can operate this system.
- Home stay in Kutch mainland and Coastal belt eg. Mandvi, Lakhpat, Abdasa, Khadir, Bela areas can help the people and visitor’s mutual benefit and better understanding the birds, habitat and people.