Giving wings to the wingless
Biodiversity and Environmental Sustainability (BEST), India
A small group of birders and researchers in the Indian part of the Himalayas is trying to make a difference by working hard and combining our efforts to collect baseline data of bird abundance, richness and community composition in human dominated landscapes (towns and cities). The data collected will be used to inform and train local school students and young individuals regarding their rich avian diversity in their respective regions. This will enable us to make a network of youth in the Indian Himalayas which will later provide us bird count data. So far, 200 local students were engaged and participated in our bird monitoring programs.
To promote this work, this citizen science project was submitted for presentation IOCongress2018 in Vancouver, Canada. The International Ornithological Congress is the largest gathering of ornithologists in the world and is of international repute. However, attending IOCongress2018 incurs heavy expenditure, especially for someone based in (New Delhi) India. Many who work in conservation biology are aware of the how hard it is to find funding to attending these major conferences. This is further challenging if you are in the early stage of your career.
A ray of hope came from far north west of India i.e. Great Britain, when I received an e-newsletter from British Ornithologists Union (BOU) mentioning that they were offering travel grants for BOU ECR members wanting to present their research at the IOCongress2018. I’ve been a BOU ECR member for some years, so I now had the opportunity to apply for the travel grant.
A dream came true when the BOU’s Steve Dudley emailed to me the news that my application for a BOU ECR travel grant had been accepted. I now had the chance to showcase my research at the IOCongress2018.
I presented my work in the form of traditional poster on 25 August. The poster was well received and appreciated by an international audience including researchers and academics from many different countries. The poster was displayed as part of the Nature and Bird Expo hall, which further attracted a larger audience. During the congress, I made many new connections including an invitation to write a book on Himalayan birds. All of these new contacts will be useful for my future research and career.
All this was made possible because the BOU supported me to attend the congress. I strongly believe nature conservation organisations should consider supporting ECRs and developing nation naturalist/ornithologists for future conferences. It will definitely make conferences even more international.
About the author
Virat Jolli is President of Biodiversity and Environmental Sustainability (BEST) based in New Delhi, India. He is involved in the monitoring of Himalayan birds and has been working to establish a community based monitoring scheme in the Himalayas. His research interest includes, avian conservation, citizen science and urban ecology. He also teaches environmental science to undergraduate courses at the University of Delhi.
Follow Virat on Twitter @jollivirat
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