ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Avitourism in Uttarakhand

Avitourism or bird tourism is an emerging sub-sector of ecotourism. While on its face birdwatching appears to be a benign activity, there are various unrecognised and unaddressed aspects to it. Based on fieldwork around the Corbett Tiger Reserve, Uttarakhand, the avitourism discourse is explored and it is argued that avitourism has the potential to counter park-centric and tiger-centric tourism. However, there are many challenges to it due to the lack of sound practices and policies.

Much has been written and explored on the prospects and problems of big mammal-related tourism particularly tiger tourism in India. A recent phenomenon is the growing discourse on avitourism or bird tourism. Birdwatching and state-led bird festivals are being actively promoted in Uttarakhand. The tourism, led by the private sector, is also highly involved in birding. As Mohan Singh, a nature guide from Pawalgarh village near the Pawalgarh Conservation Reserve—one of the venues of the Uttarakhand forest department, who led Spring Bird Festival (an annual event in different remote and pristine locations of the state) in 2015—explained,

In these areas (protected areas but not national park) we cannot provide the visitors with the similar experience of viewing the tiger. That is restricted to the national park. In Uttarakhand, as many as fifty percent of the bird species of India can be sighted. Some of these birds are migratory (long distance migrants following set patterns), some endemic, some altitudinal nomads (migrating locally in the area and across the altitudes) and other local residents. They come with a variety of unimaginable colours, calls, habits, nesting patterns, etc. So, we are being trained by the forest department to use birding as a major wildlife activity in tourism.

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Updated On : 29th Nov, 2019
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