Rakesh Vyas is a postgraduate in Zoology and holds a postgraduate diploma in Ecology and Environment. He has been active in the field of avian research and conservation for over three decades and was a member of the State Wildlife Advisory Board, Rajasthan and Honorary Wildlife Warden in Rajasthan. He has worked with national and international NGOs on environmental awareness, wildlife conservation and man-animal conflict issues. He has traveled extensively and studied birds in Turkey, Australia, and Bahrain.
I am delighted that Rakesh Vyas, with nearly 30 years' field experience of birdwatching in Rajasthan, is bringing out a book on a subject that is very close to his heart. I have had the privilege to go birdwatching with him in Kota district, and I know how passionate he is about bird conservation.
Rajasthan is one of the most fascinating states of India, due to its culture, colourful people, historical monuments, mouth-watering cuisine, comfortable hotels, vast landscapes, and ingrained hospitality —the right recipe for attracting tourists, both domestic and foreign. Little wonder, then, that Rajasthan receives almost 50 percent of the foreign tourists coming to India. Not many people know that Rajasthan has a unique and varied wildlife. Even the so-called barren Thar desert is full of life. The Thar is one of the smallest deserts in the world but it may well have the highest number of bird species. Similarly, eastern Rajasthan has the Aravallis which are considered the oldest mountain chain in India, much older than the mighty Himalaya. Although overused and devastated due to unregulated mining and overgrazing, the Aravallis still have gems such as Sariska, Ranthambhore, Kumbhalgarh, and Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuaries that provide habitats to many species of birds, mammals, and plants. Tourists mainly go to Sariska or Ranthambhore to see the tiger; not many people know that both these protected areas have more than 300 species of birds.
It has now become a cliché that India is a country of mega-diversity. Despite occupying only about four percent of the planet's land area, it has nearly 13 percent of the world's bird species. About 1,300 bird species have been identified from the Indian subcontinent, 500 more species than the much larger United States of America, and 600 more species than the whole of Europe.
The author has compiled a list of 480 species of birds reported from Rajasthan.
Many of them are quite common and found all over Rajasthan, but some are stray records, seen once or twice during the last 200 years, while others are confined to their particular habitat. With over 500 photographs by some of the best photographers in India, it is indeed a unique book, and also a much needed one.
With increasing interest in bird-tourism, we need more such books for all the states of India. Indeed, we need bird books for different ecological regions of each state. I am sure this book will play a major role in making more people interested in birds and their conservation. It will be particularly useful for the tourism department, hotels, tourists, researchers, and lay people.
I hope this book will generate interest in the birdlife of Rajasthan, particularly amongst the younger generation who will never be able to witness many great avian wonders if we do not protect birds and their habitats now.
Rajasthan, by virtue of its geographical features and extreme climatic conditions, is home to a wide variety of birds. Compiling all the available information and creating a guide to the birds of Rajasthan is a massive undertaking. I was delighted when told by Rakesh Vyas that he was writing the Birds of Rajasthan and had enlisted the support of some of the best amateur bird photographers and field ornithologists from Rajasthan and the rest of the country. I am pleased to see the final product and its quality shows the effort put in by everyone involved with the project. The book not only covers the common birds found in the state but also includes rare stragglers which have been reported in the last 50 years. The book will be helpful to ornithologists, amateur birdwatchers, bird photographers, and tourists equally, and I have the enviable task of presenting this book to the public.
Ecotourism has acquired renewed interest as it helps with the protection of birds and their habitat. It also generates revenue for better management of protected areas and gives employment to the local people. The chapter on ecotourism contains information not only about known and popular places but also introduces the reader to many lesser-known and unexplored areas of interest to a birdwatcher.
Bird ringing is a well-accepted research tool all over the world to gather information about the movement and habitat utilisation by birds during their lifetime. All over the world, ringing is done by licensed ringers, most of whom are amateurs. The data thus generated is helpful to wildlife managers as well as researchers in devising conservation strategies and determining the conservation status of bird species in a given area. The chapter on bird ringing briefly introduces the reader to the basics of the subject. Beginners to birdwatching will find the chapter on basic field equipment extremely useful. Nature conservation and protection of wildlife are an integral part of Rajasthan's culture which shows itself in the prevalent faith and traditions of its society.
Chambal Fertilisers and Chemicals Limited, Gadepan, Kota, has made it possible to bring out this book and deserves a big thank you. All those who have been associated with the preparation of this book have my best wishes for its success and through this introduction I put this book in the hands of its worthy readers.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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