National Chilika Bird Festival : A Flying Event to promote Ecotourism in Odisha

The 2nd National Chilika Bird Festival jointly organised by Odisha Tourism and Odisha Forest and Environment Department was a flying and colourful event. The event which saw the participation of around 145 participants from all over the country was spread over two days. Two absolutely Fun Days!!

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Chilika Lake is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on Indian sub-continent. It is one of hotspot of biodiversity in country and some rare, vulnerable and endangered species listed in IUCN Red List of threatened Animals.

On Day 1, we all got a chance to do some bird watching at Mangalajodi, Chilika. We were welcomed in the serene lake by lakhs of migratory birds.  The most exciting part of the festival was perhaps day 2 when the birders got an opportunity to visit Nalbana Bird Sanctuary which is generally closed for the tourists.

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In an hour ride on the boat from Barkul to Nalbana, we had the pleasure to watch  Irrawaddy Dolphins hovering around our boats. At Nalaban, the silhouette of groups of Flammingoes was a sight to behold as the repertoire of calls of the seagulls filled the Island air.Meanwhile, one could see the purple moorhen and herons dancing into the sunset.

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It was indeed a delight for everyone as the bird population in Chilika, Asia’s has increased this year by over 1.55 lakh when compared to last winter as per the forest department. The birders also got a chance to listen to B. Sivananinthaperumal, Deputy Director of Bombay Natural History Science and Tuhinansu Kar, Wildlife Researcher about the importance of preservation of birds and wildlife. The important role of local communities was discussed as well. Chilika Development Authority also released its book ‘Fish and Shellfish Diversity and it’s Sustainable Management in Chilika Lake.’

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Vishal K. Dev, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Odisha Tourism enlightened everyone about how the state is pushing itself as one of the hotspots for Ecotourism in India. He added: “We want to raise awareness about the preservation of birds in our state and invite ornithologists and wildlife enthusiasts from all over the world to experience the diversity we have. Such events are a great way to exchange knowledge and spread the word.”

Andrew Sebastian, founder of the Asian Birds Fair said: “This is a very impressive event. One of the most beautiful venues that is the Chilika Lake I have ever visited. The fact that this year it received a record footfall of migratory birds reflects the effort being put in by the Forest department and Odisha Tourism.”

Krishna Beura, Bollywood singer and photographer was delighted to be part of the National Chilika Bird Festival. He said: “I am very proud to be part of this event and happy that such kind of event is happening in my state.

“It’s a great step by Odisha Tourism to promote the thrilling beauty of our state. I think it’s about time that the world knows the tourism potential of the state  and I am glad we are headed in the right direction when it comes to marketing and advertising the same.  I had the opportunity to visit Nalaban Bird Sanctuary with the other delegates and got some great shots of Flammingoes.”

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