Ongoing COVID-19 has taken its toll on the avitourism sector. Sunita Gurung, a tourist guide, who helps tourists to watch and understand about birds, is nowadays almost jobless due to the infection, having spent her 17 years of life in the profession.
She relishes her job but the virus has affected it. “Many tourist guides who help tourists to watch and understand about birds, are jobless at present. Most of them are getting it hard to even support for their family without income sources,” she shared.
It requires strong willpower, patience, identify and efficiency for the job, she said. Apart from the adverse impact of COVID-19 pandemic on tourism, another worrying point is that the habitats of birds have been destroyed in the name of development, she rued. Pokhara is a tourist destination for avitourism, said tourism entrepreneurs.
The Seti River, Phusre River and Suraudi River here are considered as better habitats for birds in the district. Pokhara is a good habitat for birds due to several water resources near to it including the Kali Gandaki River
The data suggests that eight per cent of all tourists visiting Nepal arrive for the bird watching. The visitors for ‘avitourism’ in Nepal are primarily from abroad and with the outbreak of coronavirus, the arrivals have sharply dropped, leaving bird guides almost without work.
Raju Acharya, executive director at Friends of Nature (FoN), Nepal said lakes, ponds and marshlands have already welcomed the migratory birds arriving here to avoid cold. Phewa Lake, Begnas Lake and Rupa Lake here invite birds from China, Magnolia and Siberia.
Besides the major lakes in the district, Khaste, Kamalpokhari, Gude, Niureni, Dipang and Maidi Lake and areas surroundings the Seti River have started offering the views of winter migratory birds.
But, it is said the number of migratory birds arriving here in winter is gradually decreasing. The research shows that increasing environmental pollution and human encroachment on wetlands have led to the fall in the arrivals of migratory birds.
The bird population has been declining every year due to the shrinking of the wetlands for lack of conservation, construction of physical structures in the bird habitat and decline in the fish and aquatic animals in rivers, rivulets and water bodies.
As per the bird census conducted in and around the Phewa Lake here in 2017, birds of 42 species were counted. This has decreased to 39 at present. A study shows that the bird population has decreased by 50 per cent in a gap of few years.
Pokhara Valley is home to 467 species of birds. Study, research and bird identification programmes have also been conducted along with the increasing attraction towards bird watching tourism.
Director Acharya said that this year also they are going to organise training on wildlife research at Rangbhang Bhainsegauda which lies along the Millennium Trail at the initiatives of an organisation called Friends of Nature.
As Acharya said 137 species of birds are found along the 72-kilometre-long Millennium Trail that connects Dulegauda of Tanahu and Rambachha of Syangja district. The Spiny Babbler, which is only found in Nepal can be spotted at various places along this trail.
Source: National News Agency Nepal