In an attempt to prevent reduction in number of harriers, the Gujarat forest department, the Centre of Environment Education (CEE) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) jointly held a discussion on developing a multi-stakeholder strategy for conservation of harriers.
Harriers are slender, long, bare-legged, long-winged and long-tailed hawks with owl-like facial ruff. They feed on locusts and other insects found in the fields close to the Velavadar sanctuary and other such grasslands. India is the largest wintering ground for harriers in the world.
The forum saw discussions on the bird including threats that they face from increased use of pesticides by farmers close to Velavadar sanctuary. Atul Pandya, programme director, CEE, said that at present there were no data to show how the use of pesticides was affecting the harriers.
“But we don’t want a vulture-like situation. We do not want to wait for their numbers to drop drastically before we start taking action,” said Pandya.
On the issue of research, Dr Assad Rahmani said that for any action plan to develop, considerable research on how the fauna was getting affected is necessary.
“But researchers have to rely on the moods of the forest department officials to collect samples from dead birds as well as bird pellets,” said Dr Rahmani. He said if one wanted to know the impact of fertilisers on the birds, proper samples including blood samples from live birds were necessary.
CN Pandey, principal chief conservator of forests, wildlife, said that there was need to look at conservation, beyond the national park.