Bhubaneswar: The 2nd National Chilika Bird Festival began at Mangalajodi, about 70 km from here, on Sunday with the aim to promote eco-tourism and preservation of birds in Odisha.
Around 145 bird watchers from all over India participated in the two-day festival which includes photo exhibitions, seminars and a visit to Nalabana Island.
Millions of migratory birds congregate during different parts of the year at Chilika Lake, the largest brackish water lagoon in Asia. Winter witnesses the highest gathering of more than 10 lakh birds.
“We want to promote and raise awareness about Chilika being the largest repository of migratory birds in Asia. Our focus is to make Odisha one of the hotspots for eco-tourism. We plan to make this event bigger and better in future,” said Tourism Secretary Vishal Dev.
Forest and Environment Secretary Suresh Mohapatra said “We are extremely happy to have participants from all over the country. This year, we have around one million migratory birds present in Chilika. We are recognising the efforts by the locals in preserving Chilika Lake and want to empower them by helping them with livelihood in the form of sustainable tourism. Every participant of the Chilika National Bird Festival is an ambassador of this place and we hope the message spreads.”
Tourism Minister Ashok Chandra Panda inaugurated the event being organised by Odisha Tourism, Forest and Environment Department and the Chilika Development Authority.
Andrew Sebastian, co-founder of Asian Birds Fair, was the first technical speaker who enlightened the audience about the importance of preserving birds and praised the government for organising the festival.
The National Chilika Bird Festival Award was given to Mangalajodi Eco-tourism Group for their active involvement in bird protection.