Conserving himalayan birds through community participation in Sainj Valley


By : Virat Jolli

If you plan for one year, plant rice, if you plan for 10 years, plant trees and if you plan for 100 years, educate people…… (Chinese Proverb).

Sainj Valley popularly known as God Valley is a part of upper Beas Valley and is situated in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. It has number of beautiful and picturesque sites and large area of Sainj Valley comes under Great Himalayan National Park (a referral site for UNESCO World Heritage Site).

It has distinction of having high biodiversity especially of birds, according to published sources it has more than 200 species of birds.

Despite its importance from conservation point of view, it is currently under threat due to large scale developmental activities like dam building, road construction and influx of migrant population.

The construction of Parvati hydro electric project and Sainj hydro electric project has not only affected the landscape of Sainj Valley but also impacted the habitats of birds.

Therefore, to address this issue an environmental awareness and training program is organized in the Valley.

Selected students of Govt Sen Sec School, Sainj with their Principal Mr N. R Bharti ed

The project is funded by Rufford Foundation, United Kingdom.  In this project, students from four different government schools of Sainj, Shansher, Raila and Shanghar were selected and were given training in bird identification and vegetation sampling.  Our team include two field assistants drawn from local villages of Sainj Valley.

(a) Pair of White-crested Kaleej pheasant
(b) Himalayan Monal (Male)

Mr. Chuni Lal a resident of village Pashi, is a farmer by profession and a keen observer of birds. Previously he participated in number of bird surveys and can easily identify most of the bird species of this region. He is now assisting students in identification of birds and creating environment awareness.

Mr. Dabe Ram, another local from village Bhupan is new member of our team. He is particularly interested in conservation of Himalayan biodiversity through people participation. Our team is externally assisted by researchers from Newcastle University, United Kingdom.

Environment awareness program in Govt High School, Shanghar, Kullu ed

We conducted program in government schools of Raila, Shanghar, Shansher and Sainj. The students of these schools come from remote villages of Sainj Valley. They directly or indirectly depend on the forest for their livelihood. Thus if we can sensitize them it will have long term benefit to the society.

Through conservation stories and examples, we encouraged students to participate in environment related activities. We explained to students that natural resources are not infinite and can exhaust soon.

1) Educating students of Shanghar
2) Raila School students learning to identify bird
3) Students of Shansher doing vegetation sampling
4) Sainj school students recording birds in data sheets

So far we have successfully selected and trained 26 students. We were overwhelmed by their positive response, as they want to contribute for the protection and conservation of environment. Both girls and boys equally participated in it and learn about the rich fauna diversity of their region.

After the training, students can identify more than 20 common bird species and can count and record bird numbers in scientific way. The participation of local people in this project provide win-win situation to this region as it generates employment on one hand and ensuring conservation of biodiversity on the other hand.

The purpose of this training is to instill the idea of conservation in the mind of young generation, so that in coming years they will contribute in conserving Himalayan biodiversity. The trained students will be further involved in monitoring bird population of Sainj Valley.

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  1. I am an artist and work with a bird bander in the Sourland Mountains of New Jersey (U.S.A.). I also teach all ages and do projects about wildlife and conservation. I have recent art up on face book, please friend me if you wish to see my work.
    Thank you for this most important work you are involved with!

  2. Thank you for your interest and reading this article. I really appreciate you for encouraging us to continue this work in Himachal Pradesh. 
    I will surely like to see your artwork on facebook.

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