Bhubaneswar: The 4th National Chilika Birds Festival was inaugurated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who beautifully articulated the destination as “a pilgrimage for over a million-winged visitors of varied species, which undertake flights to the mighty but calm Chilika Lake – Asia’s largest brackish water lake.”
He commended the collaborative efforts of the Department of Tourism, Department of Forest, Environment and Climate Change, and Chilika Development Authority for organizing the event, aiming to enhance Odisha’s reputation as a premier birding destination.
The festival commenced with a captivating Photo Exhibition featuring works by esteemed photographers like Shakti Nanda, Umakanta Biswal, and Dhritiman Mukherjee. The exhibition showcased a stunning collection of photographs capturing the diverse avian wonders of the Chilika region, highlighting both the photographers’ skill and the area’s rich biodiversity.
Throughout the three-day program, 52 birders from across India participated in various activities. Tourism Minister Aswini Kumar Patra emphasized Odisha’s commitment to bird conservation, citing this year’s bird census, which recorded over 11.37 lakh birds of 187 species. He encouraged participants to enjoy the festival’s offerings in Mangalajodi and Nalabana.
OTDC Chairman Dr. Lenin Mohanty lauded Odisha Tourism for its exemplary promotion and management of the tourism ecosystem, particularly praising community-led conservation efforts in Mangalajodi. Additional Chief Secretary Surendra Kumar highlighted the festival’s emphasis on engaging local communities in conservation initiatives, promoting responsible tourism practices.
Director Tourism Sachin Ramchandra Jadhav expressed optimism for future editions of the festival, envisioning increased participation from international birders. He invited attendees to partake in parallel events such as Bird Walks and Lecture Talks to gain a comprehensive understanding of Odisha’s biodiversity.
Director Nandankanan & Chief Executive Chilika Development Authority Dr. Manoj Nair conveyed gratitude for the collective efforts towards conservation and tourism development. The launch of the State of India’s Birds poster and video underscored the importance of scientific assessment in bird conservation, with contributions from 13,000 bird watchers.
Notable speakers like Dr. Suresh Kumar from the Wildlife Institute of India and photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee shared insights during the festival, contributing to its goal of raising awareness about Chilika Lake’s avian fauna. The Parallel Session on Citizen Science and Bird Conservation facilitated discussions on innovative approaches to involve citizens in bird conservation efforts.
Over the next two days, participants will embark on birding tours to Mangalajodi and Nalabana, further exploring the region’s diverse birdlife.