A bird at Eaglenest wildlife sanctuary.
Jorhat, Aug 29 : Arunachal Pradesh will host its first bird festival in the first week of February next year at Eaglenest wildlife sanctuary in West Kameng district.
The sanctuary, whose lowest point is 500 metres and the highest over 3,500 meters, has a mind-boggling variety of birds and the festival aims to showcase this diversity.
It is at Eaglenest, in the Eastern Himalayas, that a new species of bird, Bugun Liocichla, was discovered in 2006. Only seven pairs of the species were found in the sanctuary. Bugun Liocichla is a close relative of another rare Liocichla species, found only in a few mountains of central China. Liocichla are members of the bird family, babblers.
A bird race for birdwatchers will also be held during the festival. Prizes will be awarded to those with the highest tally of birds and the most special birds sighted.
“We are expecting a large number of tourists, including foreigners, during the festival,” divisional forest officer, Shergaon forest division, Rupa, Millo Tasser, told The Telegraph today.
Eaglenest, which covers an area of 217 square km, derives its name from the Red Eagle Division of the army, which was posted in the area in the 1950s. The sanctuary is home to at least 450 species of birds including babblers, herons, black storks, ducks, hawks, eagles, kites, vultures, falcons, pheasants, jungle fowl, quails, woodpeckers, warblers and cormorants.
The sanctuary has the distinction of having three tragopan species. It is also home to at least 165 species of butterflies and 15 species of mammals, including the endangered red panda, Royal Bengal tiger, Asiatic black bear and capped langur.
Tasser said the main aim of the festival was to raise awareness about Eaglenest.
“Although a large number of tourists visit Eaglenest every year, the sanctuary has not yet received the required attention. We hope the festival will help showcase its diversity of birds at the international forum,” Tasser said.
The festival will be held jointly by the tourism and the forest department, with co-operation from Bugun Welfare Society, an NGO involved in eco-tourism at Eaglenest.
Its members are from the Bugun community, who live on the fringes of the sanctuary.
Indi Glow, chairman of the society said a photography competition with entries of bird pictures taken at Eaglenest and painting and essay competitions among school children have also been planned during the festival.
“We are expecting the bird festival to become an annual feature in Eaglenest’s calendar,” Glow said.