Down to Earth - - REVIEW -

How did the book come about? The con­tent of the book is heav­ily based on my in­ter­ac­tions with the farm­ers with whom I have had sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties to work while at the M S Swami­nathan Re­search Foun­da­tion in Chennai. My cu­rios­ity made me ask ques­tions—about birds and wildlife vis­it­ing their farms as I fre­quently heard about the prob­lems th­ese farm­ers faced from them. This has now been termed hu­man-wildlife con­flict. In­ter­est­ingly, most didn't mind the birds vis­it­ing their farms. This book is aimed at man­agers and pol­i­cy­mak­ers to look into this as­pect and hope­fully get ideas that can be im­ple­mented on field to mit­i­gate such con­flicts. What is the state of bird con­ser­va­tion in In­dia? Most of the funds are di­rected to­wards charis­matic an­i­mals. But in the end, the con­ser­va­tion of the um­brella species or the charis­matic an­i­mals like tigers and ele­phants will help birds as well. Conserving birds is eas­ier—by pre­serv­ing the ecosys­tems, like con­ser­va­tion of wet­lands, coasts, dry scrubs, as a whole will au­to­mat­i­cally con­serve a va­ri­ety of bird species. The other way to con­serve birds is to leave them alone. By not in­ter­fer­ing in their nat­u­ral habi­tat and hin­der­ing im­por­tant stages of their life cy­cles like breed­ing and their roost­ing ar­eas will help in their con­ser­va­tion. Take the Nar­con­dam horn­bill for ex­am­ple, which is en­demic to the small is­land of Nar­con­dam in Ni­co­bar. Leave them alone and they will be fine. How can peo­ple con­trib­ute to na­ture con­ser­va­tion? There is a need to make the pub­lic aware, es­pe­cially of where the things that they use and con­sume come from and where they end up. Peo­ple should be ed­u­cated and made aware of the con­se­quences. One can­not gen­er­ate in­ter­est by just putting up a board that says ` please con­serve na­ture'. Peo­ple need to be guided as to how they can con­trib­ute to con­serve na­ture. Bird fes­ti­vals and cit­i­zen science projects such as Mi­grant Watch, the Spar­row Project and sev­eral other ini­tia­tives are wel­come as they in­spire peo­ple. How­ever, what con­cerns me is the large num­ber of peo­ple con­gre­gat­ing in re­mote forested places who de­stroy the place as they camp out, have bon­fires and dump waste. I think eco-tourism should fol­low strict guide­lines.

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