Ganderbal, Feb 13: To raise awareness of bird and wetland conservation and also nurture an interest among young about birds and their habitat, a two day Shallabugh bird festival commenced here on Monday.
The Department of Wildlife Protection, (Wetlands Division, Kashmir) and the District Administration Ganderbal in joint collaboration with SKUAST-Kashmir and Kashmir Birdwatch is organizing the two days Shallabugh Bird festival from 13 to 14 of February.
The Inaugural function of the festival was held at the Conference Hall of Mini Secretariat Ganderbal where Shyambir Singh, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Ganderbal was the chief guest . The Shallabugh wetland was recently added to the list of Ramsar sites by the government of India.
A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, also known as “The Convention on Wetlands”, an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO, which came into force in 1975. It provides for national action and international cooperation regarding the conservation of wetlands.
Notably, Shallabugh wetland in Ganderbal is spread over 16.0 square kilometers. The wetland is fast losing its sheen and was craving for attention. Encroachment, unabated pollution in the past and lack of conservation measures had drastically affected the eco-system of the wetland.
Lakhs of migratory birds used to come to Shallabugh wetland from far off places like Siberia, Central Asia, Northern Europe, Ladakh, China and Central Asia. Over the years the number of the migratory birds visiting the wetlands decreased drastically.
While throwing the Shallabugh Fest-2023 open, the DC Ganderbal stressed upon the need that such events need to be pursued on a sustained basis. He applauded the role of the civil societies, local communities and the NGOs in the field of wetland conservation and appealed to them to take active part in the conservation and restoration process of the Shallabugh Wetland Reserve.
In his address the chief guest expressed his willingness to render all the help and support in showcasing the unique biodiversity of the wetland. He assured the participants that the best of the wildlife photographers during the fest period shall be felicitated by the district administration.
Rashid Yahya Naqash, Regional Wildlife Warden, Kashmir Region, said that the aim to celebrate the Shallabugh bird festival is to raise awareness of bird and wetland conservation and also nurture an interest in young wildlife enthusiasts to learn and love migratory/resident birds and their habitat.