In an effort to create awareness among people about ecological conservation, a group of nature enthusiasts recently launched an application that will provide information about 250 birds found in the neighborhood of Vasai, a suburban town north of Mumbai .
“We found out that there are a lot of birds found in natural habitats right next to concrete jungles and started documenting those. These habitats are increasingly threatened by the developmental works,” Kuldeep Chaudhari,” a resident of Vasai, told PTI.
In 2009, a group of seven people, including Chaudhari and his friend, Amol Loke, started documenting birds. After being pleasantly surprised to hit the 250th mark, they decided to launch the Vasai Birds App for Android users on the occasion of World Biodiversity Day.
Chaudhari says the app has high quality imagery shot by the group, the bird’s food preferences, nesting habits, of the habitat, unique marks for identification and also audio recordings of their calls. “The application also gives a status of the bird as per the IUCN list,” Chaudhari said, adding that they have documented seven species of either ‘vulnerable, endangered or near threatened’ birds.
“There are seven distinct habitats around the historical town of Vasai, including wetlands, hill forests, coastal areas and farmlands which have been identified,” Chaudhari said, adding that none of these seven habitats are protected by the government.
“We have not gone into a notified sanctuary. The birds which you see on the app have been seen right next to us and there is so much of biodiversity where we live,” he said.
Located to the north of Mumbai, Vasai houses a fort built by the Portuguese in the 18th century. However, the last two decades have seen a rapid growth in population.
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Naturalist Anand Pendharkar said 190 bird species have been found in the protected Sanjay Gandhi National Park and and added the dedicated work of this group only illustrates the importance of the area and the need to conserve it. Speaking on conservation, Chaudhari said there is a need to look into the Nirmal Lake, where the group has noted 65 species. “There are efforts to make it into a tourist spot by things like introducing boating. This will kill the bird habitat,” he added.
Keeping the target group in mind, the application also has a guidebook of birding, which details the do’s and don’ts for the activity, he said. It also has a news section to tell everybody about newer sightings and announcing bird walks. Chaudhari, a photojournalist, and Loke, an IT professional, have invested Rs 30,000 it and are now looking for sponsors to take the application to Apple I-phone users.