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article imageGujarat Tourism treated bird watchers to cultural performances Special

By Pamela Lim     Jan 24, 2012 in Environment
Gandhinagar - Birders, travel writers, ornithologists, researchers from the world over were invited by Gujarat Tourism for the 2nd Global Bird Watchers' Conference 2012 held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India. The cultural performance was the highlight at the inauguration.
Setting the pace for what was to follow in the next 3 days of intense birding & a full day of conference, several delegates on the chartered bus transfer, whipped out their bazookas to shoot the flock of Rosy Starlings that were feeding at the turf right outside the airport foyer while waiting for the other delegates to arrive from different destinations around the world. It wasn't hard to see who the avid bird photographers were even though anyone hardly knew each other apart from the initial hello when everyone got onto the bus. The 2nd Global Bird Watchers' Conference held on 19 - 22 January 2012 was organised by Gujarat Tourism in partnership with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to promote avi(avian) tourism by showcasing the spectacular bird life in the region.
Pictures of the inaugural ceremony of the 2nd Global Bird Watchers  Conference 2012 in Gujarat  Indi...
Pictures of the inaugural ceremony of the 2nd Global Bird Watchers' Conference 2012 in Gujarat, India.
The inaugural ceremony was held at Kensville near Ahmedabad on January 19, 2012 in the presence of participants, guests and media with the following two days of excursions to the various wetlands in the state. Mr. Jaynarayan Vyas, the Honorable Minister for Tourism in the Government of Gujarat, in his opening speech (see below) spelled out the richness of the biodiversity of the state situated in the migratory path of birds during winter in the Northern Hemisphere. They declared the conference open as soon as they lit the candle in reverence to the Almighty God & a cultural dance complete with an ensemble of musicians playing traditional musical instruments to a hyped up crowd. Delegates were treated to a colourful assembly of dancers and a spread of an elaborate buffet of the tastiest Indian food. Even as the voices were drowned out by the drums & flutes of the performers, people began sharing knowledge of birds, ecology & photographic skills.
Pictures of the inaugural ceremony of the 2nd Global Bird Watchers  Conference 2012 in Gujarat  Indi...
Pictures of the inaugural ceremony of the 2nd Global Bird Watchers' Conference 2012 in Gujarat, India.
One of the dance performances was truly remarkable in that each of the dancers held a long piece of coloured ribbon which they used to ‘weave’ the pole held by two anchor men. (See photos & videos). The night ended relatively early as the birders had to be up at 4:30am to begin the journey to their pre-destined routes for birding.
Pictures of the inaugural ceremony of the 2nd Global Bird Watchers  Conference 2012 in Gujarat  Indi...
Pictures of the inaugural ceremony of the 2nd Global Bird Watchers' Conference 2012 in Gujarat, India.
Pictures of the inaugural ceremony of the 2nd Global Bird Watchers  Conference 2012 in Gujarat  Indi...
Pictures of the inaugural ceremony of the 2nd Global Bird Watchers' Conference 2012 in Gujarat, India.
Pictures of the inaugural ceremony of the 2nd Global Bird Watchers  Conference 2012 in Gujarat  Indi...
Pictures of the inaugural ceremony of the 2nd Global Bird Watchers' Conference 2012 in Gujarat, India.
The Minister’s speech:
“It gives me immense pleasure to welcome you all today to the State of Gujarat and to the 2nd Edition of the Global Bird Watcher’s Conference. On behalf of the Department of Tourism - Govt. of Gujarat, Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd., and my personal behalf I warm heartedly welcome you all.
Encouraged by the overwhelming success of the First ever edition of the Global Bird Watchers’ Conference in November 2010 held at the wetlands of Khijadiya, it was decided to make it an annual Conference. We received several positive feedbacks from the participants of the first conference that confirmed the fact that it is in the common interest of the global birding community and that of the State to promote Gujarat as a rich destination of its natural heritage in terms of species that it offers, both local and migratory.
Today when the State of Gujarat is promoting the Tourism Sector to its fullest potential, we must also offer the world the wetlands and sanctuaries that are still not explored in totality by the birding community, both domestic and global.
Gujarat offers 502 species of birds out of total 1241 listed species in India. Additionally the State has several locations and terrains that attract tens of thousands of migratory birds year on year and witness about 250 different species. This conference is being held at a time when large numbers of migratory birds will be in place, and those going for the field trips will get an opportunity to see them.
The delegates that have registered for the conference are a diverse group. It comprises of Bird Watchers, Ornithologists, Travel-writers, Photographers, Tour-Operators, Researchers and Academicians from across the country and continents. We have received total 402 registrations of 95 delegates are from 38 different countries and 288 are from 18 different States of India. In addition to these numbers we will have invited guests and members of media attending the field trips and the conference.
Unlike the first conference where we had field trips and the conference sessions on the same days, this year we have organized the field trips on three different routes for the first two days followed by the Conference on the 22nd of January. This will facilitate experience sharing by the participants. Besides we will have deliberations and talks by many other experts in the domain.
Friends, bird watching is documented to be the fastest growing outdoor recreation activity in the United States. Royal Society for Protection of Birds, UK alone boasts more than a million members. Likewise this segment of tourism is picking up very fast among the masses in most of the countries. Gujarat therefore, is an ideal destination for the bird watchers and offers excellent opportunities besides its other cultural and heritage advantages. According to an estimate, on an average an Indian birder spend 40 days in a year away from home birding. Their combined annual spend is US$ 14million annually for bird-watching.
Birding and nature tourism are also compatible with environmental preservation. They take advantage of natural scenic areas and habitats that attract specific bird species. We believe that by promoting the eco-tourism we shall also be inculcating the practices required for conservation of nature and its bounty. It is imperative to continue sensitising the masses in this matter and bird watching and other such nature related recreational activities can significantly contribute to this matter.
I am also privileged to announce that the 3rd Edition of GBWC will take place during the same dates in the year 2013 and I invite you all to join us again to explore more of Gujarat.
I wish the conference and all the participants fruitful next three days and happy birding with a trust your stay and field trips will be memorable ones. Thank you.”
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