Avitourism opportunities as a contribution to conservation and rural livelihoods in the Hindu Kush Himalaya - a field perspective

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Nishikant Gupta
Mark Everard
Ishaan Kochhar
Vinod Kumar Belwal


The Hindu Kush Himalaya is a biodiversity hotspot subject to multiple anthropogenic stressors, including hydropower plants, pollution, deforestation and wildlife poaching, in addition to changing climate.  Bird photography tourism, as a locally important element of avitourism, has the potential to integrate sustainable development and wildlife conservation.  We conducted field surveys around the reaches of four Indian Himalayan rivers—the Kosi, western Ramganga, Khoh, and Song—outside of protected national parks (the Corbett and Rajaji tiger reserves) to ascertain the distribution of bird species along river corridors that could be sites of avitourism. Species richness along the surveyed reaches were: Kosi (79), western Ramganga (91), Khoh (52), and Song (79). This study contributes critical data to the existing baseline information on the avifaunal species of Uttarakhand.  It further discusses the possibility of developing avitourism for knowledge generation on species distribution and innovative livelihood options for local communities in Uttarakhand, reinforcing local vested interest in bird conservation.  The findings have generic applicability worldwide.


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