Responsible tourism: Birding and wildlife watching in the Himalayas, India
During this tour in the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh, we will be passing through one major reserve and protected park. The Great Himalayan National Park is one of the most phenomenal places on earth with spectacular views and many species of birds and wildlife. Visiting this park and supporting by way of financial assistance is one of the main ways to ensure this level of protection continues.
The tour passes through areas in the Kullu region where many conservation efforts have been taking place to protect various species of birds and wildlife. Animals such as the very rare and elusive Snow Leopard call this area home as well as endangered species of beautiful pheasants such as the Himalayan Monal and the Trogopan. There are many conflicts when human clashes with wildlife and in this region it is one of the major concerns and threats to animals such as the Snow Leopard, which feeds on local farmers’ sheep and goats. We can play a major role in educating locals by first understanding the issues and challenges.
During one of the days, in the quiet hours of the afternoon and when convenient, clients will have the option to engage in educational activities. Through our guide we can connect with local conservation groups to discuss issues and share ideas with them to come up with real solutions. There are many areas in this region where reforestation goes a long way in sustaining birds and wildlife habitat. If possible and where convenient we can engage in a local reforestation project for a couple of hours during the quiet hours of the day. This area is very high altitude and this decision must be made with this in mind. This is totally voluntary and will not impact the birding activities at no time, as we will select a time during the quiet hours of the day when birds and wildlife activities are minimum and the group will be back in camp or in the hotel.
In addition to this, we will contribute 2% of the listed tour price to a local (community, state or national) conservation group/body or not for profit organization on behalf of each or our clients. We will provide suggestions and will be happy to make the contribution to an organization of the client’s choice as long as it is a not for profit organization involved in the preservation of birds and wildlife habitat.
On the trails during the tour, you will come across wild animals. In all cases, wildlife and birds have the right of way. At no time will we disturb, disrupt or interfere with breeding behaviour or bird and wildlife habitat in a negative way. In any of the reserves we visit, there are leks, nests, and areas where birds display during breeding season as well as breeding areas for wildlife. As far as possible we will keep our distance to comfortably view these remarkable displays while avoiding any disruption.
Photography of birds and wildlife is key on our tours, however we do not allow flash photography which we believe disrupts the natural behaviour of birds and animals. All clients on this tour will be provided with a Code of Conduct prior to the start of the tour.
We play our role in supporting the local communities the tour passes through by providing financial support when we visit the reserves and through our hiring practices, local food options and cultural aspects of the tour.
Our hiring policy mandate is to hire the best local guides only and this tour will be guided by Mr. Manish Chokshi, a Gujarat resident. Manish has spent a considerable amount of time in this area in the past and knows the trails very well. We make a deliberate attempt to assist the economy of the local community by hiring local guides to work alongside the main tour guide, even when one guide might suffice. In this region, clients will be searching for birds with our guide (Manish) as well as a local individual hired by us for the days in this Great Himalayan National Park.
The culture is another aspect of India that clients simply cannot miss. On this tour clients will be taken to areas in the Kullu region where they will stay in local homestays as well as some local hotels. Here Buddhism and North Indian culture is very much alive. High quality local foods will be all that is served on this tour including local cooks and porters who will be hired for some days while camping on the trails of the Great Himalayan National Park. One of the main goals on this tour is to ensure our customers walk away with a wonderful birding and wildlife experience and an even better appreciation for the environment and local communities in this Kullu region.