Birders’ meet begins, expert for preserving ‘Flamingo City’

More than 200 birders and tourists and a handful of business persons from the tourism industry, including about 60 foreigners, landed at the Tent City near the White Rann Monday for the third Global Birdwatcher's Conference.

Speaking at the inauguration, veteran environmentalist and educator Lavkumar Kachar brought up the issue of preserving Flamingo City, the post-monsoon breeding ground for lakhs of flamingos that lies 15-odd kilometres north-east of the venue, on a small island in the Rann.

"We got to protect it. We need to make sure that it is not disturbed. Flamingos are global, not just Gujarat's, not just India's, but the worlds'," Kachar said without mentioning a proposed road that the National Board for Wildlife has been hotly debating for more than a year now.

The proposed road will pass through the Rann, and experts on the board have expressed fears that it would annihilate the breeding ground by blocking the flow of water, which support organisms the birds feed on. Some have even suggested the road is intended to boost tourism.

The Border Security Force and Home Department, however, maintain that the road is necessary for security logistics.

Meanwhile, Sanjay Kaul, MD of the state's tourism arm, said participants in this year's three-day conference have come from more than 40 countries, up from 28 last year.

Gujarat, he said, hosts over 520 species of birds, and that the birdwatchers' conference is on way to becoming a truly 'green' event.

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