Birdwatching in India

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Birdwatching in India

Environment

We provide all tour participants with simple guidelines on appropriate environmental practices and local etiquette to adopt during their tour, while our guides will actively highlight any conservation issues relating to the bird and wildlife conservation. Keoladeo bird sanctuary is one such area where you might be watched carefully by your guide not to go beyond the designated path in pursuit of a good bird sighting or a dream picture.

Himalayan foothills are fragile eco-system where many birds are prone easily affected with the slightest of the change in their environment. We therefore make sure that our responsible travel guidelines are followed by each guides and travellers.

Whilst we appreciate the desire to see certain target species or number of species we will not chase a list - nevertheless our sightings are consistently impressive in terms of both key species and species numbers.  The field expertise of our guides, together with our carefully planned itineraries, allow us to consistently show our guests a high proportion of the key species of our tours, however we do not guarantee sightings of any species, since this generates a misunderstanding of the status of some of India’s most sought-after yet threatened inhabitants.

Our environment responsibilities start right from the office. We have policy of using eco-friendly goods and paper, plus we reduce, reuse and recycle where possible. We print our office documents on both sides of the paper to reduce paper consumption. We try to keep our marketing materials at bare minimum by using modern electronic communication for marketing purpose. We also work to minimise energy and water consumption in our offices, and we encourage our partners to follow similar waste management and energy philosophies.

We operate with small group sizes which not only maximises interaction within the group and guides and local community but also minimises the impact on environment.

Our vehicles comply with strict Euro IV emissions or Bharat Stage III control regulations set by the European Union and Indian Environment Ministry. We regularly check and maintain vehicles to the highest possible standard in order to limit carbon emissions and ensure the comfort and safety of our passengers.

We try to look for home stays, lodges and hotels which are safe, comfortable and operated in a sustainable way. We specifically pay attention to the lodges and camps, located around national parks for their waste disposal and eco-tourism policies.

Tiger reserves and national parks are covered in majority of our tours and with the increasing number of tourists in these reserves can put extra pressure on the local flora and fauna. Howvever, we believe wildlife tourism can be an important conservation tool if used responsibly. Travel to national parks and wildlife areas can bring positive economic benefits as entrance fees contribute to the maintenance and conservation of local flora and animal species, while visitors benefit from the educational aspects of the area and take away with them an increased awareness of the need and place for conservation. Equally important tourism helps the local communities living around these reserves by providing jobs and helping them realise the importance of the forest.

Our tour leaders and drivers follow strict policy while visiting national parks to minimise pressure on Tiger Tourism. Our code of conducts is:
- We do not guarantee sighting of any particular species because this puts pressure on drivers, guides, naturalists, mahouts and other authorities. Rather, we rely on skilled naturalists and guides who are expert in deciphering jungle signs to locate the client’s dream animal/birds.
- We refrain from rushing through the jungle beyond the permitted speed in the hope of catching a glimpse of a tiger or other animal. We maintain a slow speed, which not only allows the tourists to absorb nature but it is also safe for animals crossing/sitting on the road.
- We do not go beyond the marked area for tourists inside forest in hope of better sightings.
- We strictly do not chase animals or disturb their natural behaviour for a better look or for the ‘ultimate photograph’.
- Whenever we find garbage or plastic inside the reserve, we carry it out for safe and responsible disposal.
- We maintain a safe distance from animals and do not come between parents and offspring.
- We avoid approaching nesting or breeding sites as this causes unnecessary stress to parents and young ones.
- We do not support attractions which use animals as entertainment for profit. These animals are often taken from the wild, mistreated and are trained to perform unnatural behaviours, which are not only stressful but often harmful to the animal.
Apart from above, we strictly follow and expect same from our clients to abide by the rules and regulations pointed out by Forest Department of India and local authorities.

Community

1. You will be taking paddle rickshaw in Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary for your rides in the park. Here we would like to mention that it may seem unjustified and you may feel little embraced being pulled by rickshaw driver. It is our duty, bearing in mind our responsible tourism policy, to mention that locals find this as their best source of income and enjoy showing you around. And we feel this is the best way to contribute to local economy. It is also to be noted that these rickshaw driver are expert birdwatchers who will tell you the name of birds in English and can spot birds from distance away without peeping through the binoculars.

Further, we do not want to stress on taking rickshaw. If you still feel that you are better off than we would suggest taking bicycles or your reliable legs to enjoy this UNESCO world heritage site.


2. We know that a local guide can enliven every tour with local folk-lore, snippets of gossip, names of plants and their medicinal uses. Most importantly particularly in remote villages, our guide is our host, showing us around his or her area. This helps to make our tours an experience of cultural exchange rather than a brutish trample through someone else’s way of life.

3. Many drivers in India are paid tiny fees in the expectation of large tips that allow the car owners to get away with low wages. We pay all our drivers a decent wage and we do not, as many operators do, expect them to sleep in their cars when doing long journeys involving overnight halts. We either ensure accommodation and good food is available for them at the lodges we use (and we check the accommodation is of an acceptable standard) or we pay for them to stay in a nearby hotel.

4. Many of our tours offer opportunities to visit ancient places such as UNESCO World Heritage Sites where the entrance fees contribute to the maintenance and restoration of these unique places. We asks that travellers respect signage, take only photographs and leave no litter or graffiti behind, even if others have done so. Do not attempt to bring home any rocks or stones or other souvenirs of the location and don’t purchase such items from vendors as this can encourage the on-going destruction of local areas of interest.

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